How do you access your website? With www as prefix or without it?
Usually, any site that is not using redirection from www to non-www or vice-versa is creating a duplicate copy of the site. This creates duplicate content issue & your site is penalized in search engine. It’s your job to ensure only one URL is accessible & other one is redirected.
Ex: My Website address is www.ShoutMeLoud.com
when you type http://ShoutMeLoud.com it will automatically redirected to www.shoutmeloud.com, which is how every website should be.
Usually, webmasters set 301 redirections or use canonicalization to set their preferred domain. Here I’m sharing one more way by which you can tell Google, which is your preferred domain. Usually, you don’t have to worry much about this setting if you are using WordPress, but again it’s always a good idea to configure this setting at Google Search console.
If you are not sure you are making the same mistake by offering two different links for the same content, try to open your site with and without www. If both of them redirects to one URL, you need not need to worry about, else you should make sure that both the URL should redirect to one URL only.
What is Preferred domain setting?
As the name suggests, you can tell Google, which URL ( www or Non-www) you would like Google to index. Though this
You can treat your domain like http://shoutmeloud.com or http://www.shoutmeloud.com. If you don’t set your preferred domain style, chances of getting penalize for duplication of content by Google is very high.
This is what Google talk about preferred domain:
The preferred domain is the one that you would like used to index your site’s pages. If you specify your preferred domain as http://www.example.com and we find a link to your site that is formatted as http://example.com, we’ll treat that link as if it was http://www.example.com . In addition, we’ll take your preference into account when displaying URLs in our search results. It may take some time for changes to be reflected in our index.
You can read more about preferred domain here on Google official page.
How can you set up your preferred domain using Google webmaster tool?
To configure this setting, you need to verify domain ownership of your domain with www and without www. You can use the same meta verification to verify your ownership or upload the verification file offered by Google Webmaster tool when you submit your website. Once you have verified the ownership, login to your website dashboard under Google webmaster tool and click on the gear icon on the right and click on site settings.
From there you can set your preferred domain settings. As I mentioned above, you need to add www and non-www version of your domain.
Though if you have set proper 301 redirection, which usually any WordPress blog does by default, you can skip this step. Once you are configuring Webmaster tool for your blog, you might like to set it too.
Do let us know which domain URL do you prefer, www or non-www? And which method do you prefer to set you preferred domain URL?