Which is more important, with www or without?

www.mysite.com vs. mysite.com
You should use a 301 redirect mysite.com to www.mysite.com to avoid duplicate content penalty from google (probably not though according to google engineers) and google prefers the www address to be canonical, but you can make any of your URLs the canonical one such as:

  • mysite.com
  • www.mysite.com
  • mysite.com/index.html
  • www.mysite.com/index.html

A 302 redirect is temporary, and a 301 redirect is permanent. An authoritative writeup of Canonicalization and 301 vs. 302 redirects can be found at Matt Cutts blog who works at Google as a webspam expert.

Google will handle a 301 redirect by putting the URL that is redirected to into their index. So if someone searches for a term on your website, Google will show the one Canonical URL.

It is important that you setup the redirect first before publishing your website and certainly before adding your URL to Google. Google’s search index may not allow your non www URL to drop out of their index for as long as 6 months. If you do not have a redirect setup and do not want to you can also fix the multiple domain problem by using Google Webmaster Tools. Once you have your account setup then you go to “Dashboard -> Tools -> Set preferred domain”

Duplicate content is determined by a page hash algorithm at Google. The common guess is that Google may penalize your website if you have more than 2 URLs containing the same page content. If you do need to have several URLs it would be a good idea to point all the non canonical ones to point to the one you want to market and publish via 301 redirects.

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