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However, due to other issues, I'm moving to a new host that does not provide 301 redirects. Therefore, there is no way to do the above redirect.
However, I'm now aware that I can use Google webmaster tools to tell Google directly to use www.example.com which some have argued adequately addresses the issue.
Still, however, when I visit any major site and type in example.com, I'm always redirected to www.example.com.
So, I ask your opinion: In February 2008, do you feel I would be making a mistake to show both example.com and www.example.com (ie no redirect) and just use Google webmaster tools to report that I want to go with www.example.com, or is there some other reason or something I am overlooking whereby I would be better off simply finding another host willing to do the redirect?
[edited by: tedster at 5:45 pm (utc) on Feb. 18, 2008]
[edit reason] switch to example.com - it can never be owned [/edit]
If your domain is moving to another host but it has a good current situation with Google's indexing, then by choosing the prefered domain in Webmaster Tools, there's a very good chance that everything will remain on an even keel for you.
A lot depends on how important this domain is for you. When I work a domain that is "mission critical", I always insist on a 301 canonical fix. So if that's your situation, I'd say find a hosting situation where you can do the canonical 301 fix.
Did you notice my weasel words in the second sentence - "a very good chance"? Let's take a look at a statment from Google's Webmaster Tools blog, and be on the lookout for the weasel that may be hiding.
Is the preferred domain feature a filter or a redirect?
...The preferred domain feature is not a filter. When you set a preference, we:
Consider all links that point to the site (whether those links use the www version or the non-www version) to be pointing at the version you prefer. This helps us more accurately determine PageRank for your pages.
Once we know that both versions of a URL point to the same page, we try to select the preferred version for future crawls.
Index pages of your site using the version you prefer. If some pages of your site are indexed using the www version and other pages are indexed using the non-www version, then over time, you should see a shift to the preference you've set.
Let's look at some recommmendations from Matt Cutts:
For the people who want to make sure that all their webmaster ducks are in a row on this topic, here’s my two-minute advice:
- Pick one way of writing all your urls and use that consistently in your pages and your links.
- If you pick (say) www.example.com as your preferred root page, make sure that you have a permanent (301) redirect from pages such as example.com to www.example.com...
- To be extra safe, feel free to use Google’s webmaster console to specify the preferred root page of your domain (www.example.com vs. example.com).
So consider both the risk factor (dwindling but not gone) and your needs.
[edited by: tedster at 2:31 am (utc) on Feb. 20, 2008]
But alas for our opening poster, if the hosting service will not allow a canonical 301 fix, they're not at all likely to install a new third-party module like ISAPI Rewrite.