I use a company that “specializes” in mortgage sites and hosting. Since I am in the process of applying everything I am learning, I saw fit to have my site graded by one of the many online tools available.
The tool showed that my site is coming up for both the www and non www versions of my domain. When I enquired with my host about doing a 301 for my domain to one version, they said
“There is nothing we or you can reset on the Xsites as this is beyond anything we have control over. We do not support any of this nor have the capability for any one else to have it”.
How much is it going to hurt me in SEO if I don’t get this fixed like the site grader suggested?
What you’re referring to here is domain canonicalization.
Search engines can sometimes index both www and non www versions of your domain, creating duplicate content headaches for you and also link popularity dilution. Therefore, it’s best for SEO purposes if you can stick with one version of your domain and make sure all links point to that version. The www version is my recommendation because most sites will link to you using that version anyway.
Judging by the response you got from your hosts, it sounds like they’re not familiar with the issue of domain canonicalization, which is concerning. If your site host won’t allow you to use a 301 to create a conditional redirect to your preferred version, you probably need to get a new host!
Alternatively, you can use the Canonical Link Element. You can also specify your preferred URL version in Google Webmaster Tools.
My blog post Does the canonicalization of my URL impact my search engine rankings? might also be of interest.
Kalena & Alex, I believe Google and other search engines have their own way of detecting the really deserving content. And if it is not happening for your site, then you are doing something wrong. But, you have to show them that the www site is more important than the other.
Another strategy I’d suggest, is the use of absolute URLs. i.e. instead of using /blog/index.html in links, use http://www.example.com/blog/index.html. So that the non-www version also carries the links to the www site.
I’ve always found specifying your preferred URL in Google Webmaster Tools works best, this is something I always do when setting up a new website to avoid this problem.
Also as Asif said above, using absolute URLs is another great way of combating the problem.
BTW great post