How to Set Preferred Domain (www or non-www) In Webmaster Tool

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.

site settings Webmaster tool

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.

preferred domain name

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?

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Article By
Harsh Agrawal is a blog scientist and a passionate blogger. He is blogging since 2008 & writes about Blogging, SEO, Make money online & tech. His blog, ShoutMeLoud receives 1 million Pageviews/month and have over 700K subscribers.

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COMMENTs ( 23 )

  1. says

    Thanks Harsh for the nice guide. Please advise whether we need to submit sitemap on both www and now-www version, or submitting to preferred version only is ok?

  2. Joao says

    Hi, do I have to delete www version in google masters after setting up no www version?

    Regards,
    Joao

    • says

      @Joao
      You don’t have to delete the www version. You can add it along with non www, and after that you will be able to set the preferred domain setting.

  3. Adesanmi Adedotun says

    After chosen a prefer domain (www) version of my domain, Googlebot stop indexing my blog, please what can I do about this?

  4. Avneesh Sachdeva says

    I have set 301 from www to naked domain. But i want google to display search results for WWW domain. Is this possible by setting domain preference as WWW in webmaster tools?
    Also do I need to add and verify both domains (www and naked) in webmasters??

    • santosh says

      According to SEO Expert NON-www is more powerful than www. So you can go with non-www according to me. As your preference you can set WWW versions in webmaster tools and check both non-www and www version in browser, if both points to same location then you are done.

  5. scott says

    I am getting this verify issue as well.
    The first thing I did, was I verified my site by uploading the file.
    Google then verified.
    When I try to change my preferred domain, it will not allow me.

    I don’t see how/why I need to add the site, when its already added..

    P.S. I did add the site again anyway, and it didn’t work =(

  6. vasvi gupt says

    hie friends,

    My website is verified in google webmaster tool but I am unable set preffered domain with www . it shows error “Part of the process of setting a preferred domain is to verify that you own http://example.com/. Please verify http://example.com/.” but My website is verified with www
    How can I do this??

  7. Puneett says

    Harsh I tried it. But after setting preferred domain it asks me to verify domain. How to do that? Try to reply ASAP

    • says

      Puneet that’s the first thing you have done after putting your domain into Google webmaster tool…
      There are two ways to verify Google webmaster tool..
      1. meta tag
      2. Upload a HTML file
      You can use any of these method..

  8. Nimit kashyap says

    wordpress already has this option enabled,anyways nice article for those who aren’t working on wordpress platform :)

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