- Ecommerce Optimization & Marketing - http://www.zencartoptimization.com -

Are You Losing Google Page Rank Because You Forgot the WWW?

There are many reasons why you should remain consistent with your naming conventions on the Internet, especially when it comes to your domain name.

One reason is for the dreaded “duplicate content” hit you might take with a site that is indexed with both the “www” and the “non-www” form of the domain name. Another, and the one I will focus on here is the fact that you could be cheating yourself out of higher Page Rank from Google by actually “splitting it across two domains”.

What do I mean by “splitting” Google Page Rank?

First off, let me explain in short what Page Rank really is. “Page Rank” really is a measure of the incoming links to your website. Also understand that just “getting links” is not going to necessarily increase your Page Rank. The links must contain relevant content to what you offer in order to give you the most benefit. Naturally speaking then, it would make sense that the more relevant links you have coming to your website (from other similar sites), the higher your Page Rank will be.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let me present you with the following.

Have you ever noticed that when you go to your site using a url like http://www.yoursite.com (with the “www”) you see your Google Page Rank as one number (out of 10) and when you view your site as http://yoursite.com (without the “www”) you see a different Page Rank number (out of 10)?

Or, have you ever performed a Google search for your site as follows on http://www.yoursite.com and on http://yoursite.com and noticed that you are indexed by Google under both the “www” variation and the “non-www” variation?

If so, you are a victim of Canonical naming conventions at work, and you could be losing Page Rank because of it.

Why is this important and what does it all mean? Well, it’s important because if you want to follow better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices, and get maximum benefit of your possible total Page Rank, then you need to pay attention to the way your site is indexed.

What does it mean? I’ll give you an example of what it can mean to you (for illustrative purposes only.) If your site has a possible (or potential) total Page Rank of 6 out of 10, and you are indexed with both the “www” and the “non-www” form of your domain name, then your Page Rank could be split to just 3 out of 10!

Much different than a 6 out of 10 right?

So how could it be just 3 out of 10 when its full potential is 6? Well remember, in our example, Google has you indexed as “2 different domains” (by Canonical naming conventions) even though you are the same website. Google has to allocate the incoming links to your site and give them a Page Rank accordingly so it “splits the links” across the two different domains. This split is not always “50 / 50”, but in our example I use that for ease of understanding.

It takes the portion of the links that point to your site’s “www” form (www.yoursite.com) and gives them a portion of the total Page Rank. It then takes the remaining links that point to the “non-www” form (yoursite.com) of your domain name and allocates them a Page Rank. This example assumes that 50% of the incoming links point to one domain form, and 50% to the other form.

Now does it make more sense? Google took the possible “6 out of 10” Page Rank and split it into two equal halves of “3 for one domain”, and “3 for the other domain form”.

The result — instead of having a Page Rank “6 out of 10”, you now have a Page Rank “3 out of 10”.

You can’t control how others link to you (the “www” vs. “non-www” form of your domain — although you can try), but you can control what happens once they arrive at your site.

So you know you are a victim, what can you do to fix it?

In a previous post I talked very briefly about how I used a 301 redirect to move content from my old site to this; then new, domain.

You can use the same concept to redirect requests from your “non-www” domain to your “www” domain and vice versa. Just be consistent with which version you choose.

Quickly, let me show you one more example to demonstrate what the proper setup for your site gets you. In this case, I’ll use my domain (zencartoptimization.com).

The following are two examples that get you the same “common” end result.

Click on http://www.zencartoptimization.com/ (a new window will open). What do you see in the address bar of your browser? You should see the “www” version of the domain name.

Now, click on http://zencartoptimization.com/ (a new window will again open). What do you see this time in your address bar? Right! You again should see the “www” version of the domain name even though the link points to the “non-www” version!

So now we have “Canonical naming” consistency and our Google Page Rank will be combined into one final value.

Now, try the same thing for your own site. Type it with the “www” and without the “www”. See what end result you get.

If you do not get a consistent result (either both “www” url’s in the end or both “non-www” url’s in the end — whichever route you choose,) then you may want to consider adding a few lines of code to your .htaccess file (make sure it is located in your website’s root directory) to correct the situation.

Dynamic 301 Redirects Correct the www/non-www Canonical Issue

If you use the www version use this code

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomainhere(.*)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomainhere.com/$1 [R=301,L]

If you are using the Zen Cart Search Engine Friendly URLS Contribution, this still can be added as well (it’s not automatically included in the module, you have to add it yourself). In that case, you simply add the following to the bottom section of the .htaccess file that came with the module install.

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomainhere(.*)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomainhere.com/$1 [R=301,L]

The code above will 301 redirect the non-www version to the www version. Remember to replace “yourdomainhere” with your own domain name.

If you use the non-www version use this code

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.yourdomainhere.(.*)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://yourdomainhere.com/$1 [R=301,L]

The code above will 301 redirect the www version to the non-www version. Remember to replace “yourdomainhere” with your own domain name.

So now you should know why it is important to be consistent in your naming conventions. A slight oversight could be costing your Zen store valuable Page Rank.

Got a different method to achieve the same effect? Let me know.

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