Did you know there might be a copy of your website on the Internet?

Each website has two domains, a WWW version and a non-WWW version. For example, you could find Boostability’s website at www.boostability.com or www.boostability.com.

The preferred domain is the version you choose for users and search engines to view. Some people also refer to preferred domains as “canonical domains,” but the technically correct term is a preferred domain. It’s also the term that Google uses.

This blog post will teach you what domain name to use, how to set your preferred domain, and why any of this information matters in the first place.

Which One Do I Choose?

If you are a small business owner or have a new website it probably doesn’t matter, and you can choose whichever domain looks better. If you are a larger company with preexisting authority built toward the website, find out which version has more authority.

Input your website into Majestic.com with both the non-WWW and WWW forms, and compare the results.

Majestic.com non-www results

Majestic.com www results

Why Does It Matter?

Google will not penalize your website for a lack of a preferred domain. However, if your website keeps both the non-WWW and WWW versions active, then search engines will consider one of them as duplicate, and Google does not want to have a duplicate page show up in their search results.

Keeping both versions active presents a problem if you build authority to one version of your website while Google values the other.

How Do I Set My Preferred Domain?

Set your preferred domain in Search Console (a free tool through Google).

  1. In Search Console, click the gear box at the top right of the screen, and select “Site Settings.”Search Console site settings
  2. Select which domain you would like to display.Site Settings

This process will only let Google know which version of your website it should value.

You should also call your hosting company and let them know which domain to display to your visitors. To check if the URLs are properly displaying, type the non-preferred domain into a browser and see if it resolves to your preferred domain.

For example, if I type in www.boostability.com, I am redirected to https://www.boostability.com/.

Compared to other aspects of SEO, setting a preferred domain is quick and relatively painless, and it brings you one step closer to search engine visibility.




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