Apologies in advance if this is a noob question, but while I'm very good at writing code, SEO is pretty much a mystery to me :).
I've acquired a web property recently and am putting it through a pretty significant overhaul - site is live but in beta currently. Out of curiousity, I checked to see what Google had indexed using site:www. thewebsite .com. My heart sank when I saw that nothing was indexed. However, when doing a check for site:thewebsite.com, there are lots of pages indexed by Google. The site in question does have a current Page Rank of 2.
Does it matter whether Google indexes as www. thewebsite .com or website.com? Is one better than the other?
(spacing inserted in the URL on purpose to avoid hyperlinking, obviously thewebsite.com is not the name of the site :))
Thanks for any guidance you may be able to provide.
I may be wrong, but when using a "site:" search in Google, I didn't think you were meant to use www. anyhow. All the same, yes, it's best to decide whether you want your site to appear at http://www.yoursite.com or just http://yoursite.com. If you allow both (which is often the default) then you end up with duplicate content. The common approach is to set a rule in a .htaccess file that either redirect the www version to the non-www version or vice versa.
In my own opinion, I don't think it matters. At times when I visit my website, it does not show www in the URL address and at times it shows it.
Please make me correct if i'm wrong on my views.....Actually using www and without www in a url does matter as search engine will take them as two websites and this might be taken as duplicacy. This is not a major problem but why to take it when we have a solution for that. You can rectify this issue with the help of Webmaster Tool.
ralph.m is right - it's better to decide on one version and stick to it, to avoid the issue of apparent duplicate content. As well as setting up your .htaccess file to redirect one to the other, you can tell Google which version to use, via Webmaster Tools. If you don't already have an account, sign up for one, then follow the instructions to verify both the www. version and non-www. version of your site. Then under Configuration>Settings you'll find the option to specify your preferred domain - with or without the www.
Thanks guys for the feedback and advice. The .htaccess file is set up to redirect as well, I was just wondering if Google penalizes for one vs. the other. I appreciate the thorough responses.
No probs. These days I prefer to leave off the www bit, as it's a bit "last century", so to speak, and not really cool any more.
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