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I set up a site 3 weeks ago, but I believe I've made the mistake (Is it a mistake?) to get a few inbound links to "example.com" instead of "WWW.example.com".
I then changed the preferred Domain on Google Webmaster Tools to the "example.com" option.
I had about 10 pages indexed by google already. Some of the pages come us a "WWW.example.com" some as only "example.com".
I have not set up a 301 redirect yet. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but after reading a few posts here, it seems that I should do it the other way around:
Set up "WWW.example.com" as the preferred domain on Google and then redirect from "Example.com" to the WWW version.
How will this change affect:
1) my current Inbound Links to "example.com"?
2) my search results on google?
It's okay to go either with or without the www. as long as things are consistent.
Set up a 301 to your preferred version, make sure all your internal linking uses your preferred version, and cultivate links to your preferred version.
It's probably a better use of your time as well as better public relations to work on getting new links rather than asking other webmasters to change links that they've just given you. You'll never achieve 100% consistency in any case, and Google does pretty well at sorting things out, so don't worry about a few links to the "wrong" version.
I prefer not use the www. on my own sites, and setting up the 301 is one of the first things I do when setting up a new site. My only site that uses the www. is one that already had a strong legacy of www. links when I took it over.
Beyond that, for me it's a question of user friendliness and personal preference. For user friendliness, I prefer using the "www" subdomain, because it works better with most browsers and for most users.
Most users can successfully type in www.example.com and get to your site.
Entering http://example.com is a little more challenging for many.
The "www" is also assumed by many non-techies... and if you're putting your web address in print or, say, on a billboard or TV commercial, www.example.com, IMO, is going to be remembered correctly more often, and it's sort of easier to say.
On the other hand, from a purist technical standpoint, example.com is your base domain, and the www is a subdomain. Your .htaccess file, if you're using Apache, should be set up to redirect the variant urls that might identify your default page all to your preferred "canonical."
My preferred canonical is generally...
Internet Explorer is set up to request the www subdomain of example.com when you put "example" into your address bar and hit Ctrl-Enter, so if you're not setting up .htaccess rewrites, that's another reason to use the www variant.
PS: Similarly, lots of software that will get you to www.example.com (email, text editors, etc) will not get you to just example.com (ie, the latter, without www, would require
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:56 am (utc) on July 31, 2007]
Considering the site is all templates from website tonight and that I have about 30 pages up.....how easy would it be to change?