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Better to link "Home" to www. or home.?

     
5:52 pm on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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My site is setup using sub-domains and my "homepage" is actually located at home.example.com.

www.example.com has a PHP location: redirect to home.example.com and google has always had www.example.com as the "homepage". It properly indexes everything and I have the same PR on www., home., and without the www so I'm not concerned about the PR.

What I'm curious about is, should my "Home" link in my nav link to home.example.com or www.example.com (the URL google has indexed as "Home"). It's currently linked to home.example.com.

Thoughts? Opinions? Rants? Thanks!

7:05 pm on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So, you are saying you have duplicate information on www.example.com, example.com and home.example.com, but you are not worried about a penalty or canonical issues?

That takes some guts...

I highly recommend you read up on canonical problems and penalties, as well as duplicate content problems and penalties, associated with domain/sub-domain content duplication and pick a single version of your domain to host your site.

Justin

EDITED: Clarity

7:12 pm on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi Justin

My first post.

I'd love to read more - Do you have any specific links that you could recommend to read up on these problems/penalties?

> read up on canonical problems and penalties, as well as duplicate content problems and penalties, associated with domain/sub-domain content duplication <

Chris

7:26 pm on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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You have a redirect.

Does that redirect work for all pages of the site, or just for the root index page?

Does that redirect issue a status code of "301" or "302"? Use WebBug to check it.

7:34 pm on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Justin, the homepage physically resides at home.example.com. There is no duplicate content, in fact I have a TON of stuff blocked in my robots.txt since the site is forum based.

If you hit example.com or www.example.com you are directed to home.example.com where the homepage is.

Here are the response codes:

#1 Server Response: http://www.example.com
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Location: [home.example.com...]
Redirect Target: [home.example.com...]

#2 Server Response: [home.example.com...]
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 200 OK

I'm just wondering if, since google lists www.example.com as the homepage, I should follow their lead and link to www.example.com and just let it redirect to home.example.com.

7:39 pm on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Welcome Chris! Just try this search at google:

site:webmasterworld.com canonical

9:27 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi Craig_F

Thanks for the tip.

I tried that but all I got was ton of threads that referred to canonical but I haven't found what a canonical is.

Does it mean someone who is breaking the search engine rules or is there something specific that is done to make the action "canonical"?

I even checked out the Webmasterworld glossary.

I'm sorry for the rookie question.

C

10:18 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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redirect to home.example.com and google has always had www.example.com as the "homepage"

You're giving them a temp 302, so not surprising. Try changing it to a 301 (much safer too).

ADDED: That is, if you intend the hompage to always be the "home" sudomain. Of course, you could drop in the serps while G digests the permanent 301 redirect, so maybe, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

[edited by: Stefan at 10:24 pm (utc) on Jan. 28, 2006]

10:22 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sky, I always write out the whole url for index pages as they seem to be the most vulnerable. Be sure to put the / at the end. Be sure to put www if that is what you are going with. If Google is seeing www as your main page I'd go with it.

The problem is not that you actually have duplicate copy but that Google can 'think' you do if you have two or more urls going the same place

Boston, You are right, there are so many messages that talk about canonical problems and it's very hard to find one that explains it. I know there have been some but I sure can't find any now.

Try searching 'canonical google' on the web in general, not just webmaster world, and hopefully you can find the information you need.

10:38 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Chris,

The canonical domain is the "usual and proper" or "correct" single domain name for a given site.

If your server allows your site to be directly accessed under multiple domains (e.g. example.com, home.example.com, and www.example.com as discussed in this thread), then you risk the so-called "duplicate-content penalty" at worst, and mixed-up and confused search results for your site at best. The "duplicate-content penalty" is, in all but the most egregious cases, probably just a result of allowing a page's PageRank and/or Link Popularity to be split across multiple domains -- The search engines see them as separate pages, one in each domain, in other words.

For best results, you want your site to return 200-OK status for requests only for pages in the canonical domain. Requests for pages in other domains that resolve to your server should result in the server responding with a 301-Moved Permanently redirect to the same page in the canonical domain. No other response should be allowed if you want 'optimal' results. If a host can't/won't support this function, then move to a new host.

If a new site is configured from the very start with this mechanism in place, then many ranking and some "hijacking" problems [webmasterworld.com] can be avoided.

More here [webmasterworld.com].

Jim

5:06 pm on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Funny to read these surprised posts. Yes, Google sometimes can handle redirects properly! You have 302 redirect so Google took www.example.com as canonical, not home.example.com. That's the meaning of 302 - fetch content from new address but keep refering with the old one. There's nothing wrong if site ranks as it should.

But if Google lists www.example.com as canonical page, this is the URL you should link to. Linking to home.example.com could start canonical problems.

You should consider changing the configuration so the home page were always at www.example.com without using home. subdomain and the redirect, but I wouldn't change the redirect to 301, because it would force Google to change the URL it thinks to be canonical, and such changes might hurt ranking for a period of time.

7:31 pm on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Set the domain name that you want to be the one appearing in search results by using the <base> tag on all of your pages, and then set up a 301 redirect for all of the other domains.

Using the 302 redirect will harm your site in the long term.