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Google: ‘www’ in URLs Doesn’t Affect SEO Ranking

'SEO Ranking'
‘SEO Ranking’

In a potentially game-changing revelation, John Mueller of Google made clear on January 15, 2024, that the alteration of a website’s domain from www to non-www does not heavily sway its prominence in search engine rankings. According to him, Google’s algorithms possess sufficient sophistication to interpret the structure of a domain whether it includes ‘www’ or not.

However, Mueller asserted the significance of appropriately optimizing other critical SEO factors like meta-tags, site speed, and cross-linking, as they continue to have a basic role in the website ranking. While offering advice on an online forum, he emphasized that the switch from www to non-www would neither positively nor negatively influence a site’s primary ranking metrics.

According to Mueller, Google’s algorithms are competent enough to distinguish content irrespective of the presence of headers. He further encouraged focusing on fabricating high-quality, relevant content that provides value to the user, sidelining the use of headers. Google’s systems are promptly calibrated to adjust to alterations like these, ensuring that the ranking remains relatively stable.

The algorithm is designed to quickly respond and adapt to new information, to maintain a certain level of reliability and steadiness in rankings. Thus, even when modifications such as the removal of headers are made, Google can recalibrate its settings, restricting any major disruption in the ranking.

In response to a worried user who reported a slight drop in their website’s ranking after modifying their domain URL to exclude the ‘www’, Mueller stressed that such fluctuations are common and not a sign of a serious problem. Google’s algorithms interpret a change in the domain URL as a site migration, which temporarily affects site rankings until the system fully understands the changes.

This change was made using a 301 redirect via User Agent “Mozilla”, raising concerns about Google’s interpretation of such a redirect in regard to page ranking. However, Google has already explained that it treats 301 redirects the same way it treats any other general site movements. Google evaluates how these changes impact the user experience but doesn’t consider the specific method used.

Offering reassurance, Mueller asserted that server-side redirects, like 301, usually don’t involve user-agents. These redirects are typically managed at the server level, automatically directing site traffic to a different page or website, enabling a smoother user experience as the redirection process is seamless without any additional procedures for the user.

He affirmed that switching between www and non-www typically causes only minor modifications. He emphasized that patience is essential, as these changes take time to become apparent. However, any perceived negative effect is usually transient and the overall SEO ranking remains mostly unchanged.

Should users notice larger fluctuations, Mueller suggested these are likely due to different factors. He recommended beginning troubleshooting by identifying recent changes to the site (content, layout, updates in Google’s search algorithms) that could have caused these shifts.

Broadly speaking, Mueller suggested that Google promptly picks up on changes from HTTP to HTTPS or WWW to non-WWW. However, alterations like URL and URL structures may require a longer adjustment period by the search engine giant. This process involves Google’s crawlers re-indexing the new URL structures and understanding the changes in the website’s overall layout, which could also initially impact SEO rankings.

In conclusion, transitioning your website’s domain from www to non-www is unlikely to substantially affect its search ranking. Any observed changes are most likely due to other elements. The choice between www and non-www is largely a matter of personal preference, not a technical necessity for better SEO.

The key factor for a successful website always remains its content and user experience. Thus, always aim at offering valuable, unique, and engaging material to your readers.

First Reported on: seroundtable.com

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