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question on how to handle a 301 redirect
should i even mess w/ it or not, and what is the best way

 3:07 pm on Jan 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I had a really hard time deciding what section of the forum to post this in. Mods feel free to move this to a more appropriate subforum.

also, i know this issue has probably been rehashed a lot as I found many links to other threads, but the trouble is there is just so much info on it i am flooded.

I used a tool to analyze one of my sites, and it give me the following suggestion:

Permanent Redirect Not Found

Search engines may think example.com and www.example.com are two different sites.You should set up a permanent redirect (technically called a "301 redirect") between these sites. Once you do that, you will get full search engine credit for your work on these sites.
"end quote"

Now, I found this other thread on webmasterworld:


and after reading it i'm scared poopless about even messing with it at all. However i dont want to leave anything on the table when it comes to SEO.

looking for advice on how best to handle this.

some other details that may be helpful to know:

- I have a webmaster central account, but for this domain i havnt yet selected the 'preferred domain' whether www or non-www.

- I have been dropping all of my links (e.g. in blog comments) as www.example.com

- However i have been branding my site as Example.com

I appreciate any and all feedback. Thanks!



 11:55 am on Jan 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

the type of redirect you are talking about is used for domain canonicalization and is absolutely a good idea for SEO and without any negative ramifications.

you should try to implement this so that if you have any other redirects that are necessary for your urls, you simultaneously canonicalize the domain so that you redirect to the ultimate url in one step instead of chaining redirects.

where you really need to be careful is when you are using a 301 to redirect to another domain.

the "preferred domain" setting in GWT is helpful if you cannot implement the redirect on your server but if you are using 301 for canonicalization it's not really necessary to set the "preferred domain".

it is highly recommended that your internal navigation links to the canonical domain.
this is less important but still helpful for your inbound links.
your branding may affect how people link to you but the 301 still provides the strongest signal.

this recent WebmasterWorld Featured Home Page Discussion discusses many of these issues and you will hear opinions across the board on the issue regarding preference, but once you decide on the canonical domain, use your server technology to enforce your preference:
To www or not www the domain*com [webmasterworld.com]


 5:24 pm on Jan 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

thanks for that. i read through the other thread. good background info. ive decided to redirect non-www to the www.

i have cpanel for hosting, and it has an option for setting the 301 redirect there. one thing i'm not sure of is what checkbox to check for this option:

www redirection:
- Only redirect with www.
- Redirect with or without www.
- Do Not Redirect www.
- Wild Card Redirect

.... which option would i want for setting example.com to redirect to www.example.com?



 2:18 pm on Jan 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, i just tried and failed.

i tried with a test domain to forward to another domain, using the default which was 'redirect with or without www' and it did not work.

when i typed in the domain into the address bar instead of redirecting it gave an error page.

now i do not want to risk trying it with my main site. i would really appreciate if anyone who is familiar with cPanel (or not) could advise how to set this option. thanks!


 4:41 pm on Jan 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

what error did you get and did you check your server error log for clues?


 5:03 pm on Jan 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

sorry but honestly i dont remember. all i know is the domain did not redirect and went to a blank white page w/ some error message


 2:11 pm on Jan 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

most logs have a timestamp on every entry and typically hang around for more than 24 hours...


 5:54 pm on Jan 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

i tried to replicate it by doing it again. then i got on the chat support with my host. there was some rewrite error, so he advised to enter the following code into .htaccess which worked.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www.example.com$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.example.com/$1 [R=301]

question is, does this type of method for redirect give me the SEO benefit i am looking for? (i.e. does it indicate to the search engines not to index both the http:// and the www ?)

thank again for the help

[edited by: engine at 2:50 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2010]
[edit reason] Please use example.com [/edit]


 2:51 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

that .htaccess code assumes you prefer the www. version and will externally redirect this request:
to this url:
therefore only http://www.example.com/red-widgets will be indexed.
if http://example.com/red-widgets is already indexed it should eventually get dropped in favor of the canonical http://www.example.com/red-widgets url.


 3:42 pm on Feb 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

perfect. then consider this topic resolved. thank you for the advice

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