Setting Preferred Domain In Google Webmaster Tools

February 16th, 2010 | 14 Comments | Posted in Internet by bharath

The Problem: I use Google Webmaster Tools(GWT) for my website “example.com”.I want my Preferred domain to be “www.example.com”.I tried to set the preferred domain in Webmaster Tools but an error message

Display URLs as  “www.example.com” and hit save, then I get this error: “Part of the process of setting a preferred domain is to verify that you own http://example.com/. Please verify http://example.com/.”

keeps coming and I don’t have no idea what this error is !! So how to set preferred domain in Google Webmaster Tools?

Google Webmaster Tools Logo

The Solution:

Well, this very common question that many webmasters (or at least beginners I would say)  keep asking in various webmaster forums.You have a website example.com and you want Google to pass all your link juice to www version of your site, www.example.com.So you go to Google Webmaster Tools and you verify your GWT account for www.example.com either by using an HTML meta tag or using HTML file upload method.Then you go to “Settings” under “Site Configuration” and tries to change “Preferred domain” settings (www or non-www).

You keep the option “Display URLs as www.example.com” and tries to save the settings, and you get the above mentioned error message.[See the pic below ]

Preferred domain settings in GWT

You might not understand what it means at the first sight, like me :) .What it means is that you need to verify the non-www version of your website as well. Even though it may look a bit weird to you, just go ahead, start adding “example.com” (non-www version of your site) in your GWT.

non www version in GWT

Please note that you need not re-verify your website in GWT, when you are asked to verify your site, select the verification method that you had earlier used for verifying your www-version of site, www.example.com and hit “Verify” .Your website would be automatically verified and would be added to your sites in GWT.

Now go to Preferred domain from “example.com” settings and select “Display URLs as www.example.com “ and press save.

successful preferred domain change

Now you have successfully set your preferred domain as “www.example.com” i.e to the www-version of your website.Now Google restricts all link juice to  non-www version of your website.

Note:

  • Here I’ve randomly chosen www version  as preferred domain it can be opposite case also, you can choose non-www version of your site also as preferred domain, but the procedure still remains the same.
  • You must first have already verified your preferred domain in your Google Webmaster Tools  profile.
  • Even though you have set your preferred domain, it’s always a best practice to use one type of links only, either www version based or non-www version based.Avoid using mix of them (like example.com/123.htm at one page and www.example.com/123.htm on another page).
  • You may want to use a 301 redirect to redirect traffic from your non-preferred domain once you have chosen your preferred domain in GWT.
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14 Responses to “Setting Preferred Domain In Google Webmaster Tools”

  1. Vance Sova Says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for posting this. It’s a very sad state of affairs that Google doesn’t post this information in their help section.
    Since this is quite common question, they should have an answer to it. Doing what they say in their help leads to being caught up in the loop.
    Vance

  2. bharath Says:

    @Vance Sova

    Glad it helped you!

  3. Rosh Says:

    Hi, after verifying the non www version as well is it ok to delete the profile it creates or should it be kept as know there are two sets of crawling data for the same site.

  4. bharath Says:

    @Rosh

    You need to have both the versions verified under your profile. So keep the non-www version as such don’t delete it, it won’t do any harm

  5. Rosh Says:

    Thanks Bharath I’ll give it a go. The problem I have been having is that the non www version of my domain is showing in google despite setting the preferred version in GWT and also having a 301 redirect in place. It had been fine for the last few years and then just randomly changed last month for the root of the domain (all other pages show the www version). Anyway, I’ll wait and see if keeping both verified versions under the profile changes it back.
    Cheers
    Rosh

  6. INFOCPNSBUMN Says:

    best answers.. thank

  7. Wobble Says:

    Thanks so much for this. Google’s instructions here are woeful. “Verify domain ownership” implies ownership of the top-level domain, surely. Why on earth should I verify the “www” subdomain when Google has already verified my ownership of the TLD… and if I do, why keep that fairly key bit of knowledge a secret? Madness.

  8. Steve Says:

    Thanks! that was a thousand times clearer than anything on Google’s pages. Much Appreciated.

  9. Fz Ak Says:

    Thanks, it work on WMT. I face this problem since the new version of WMT and i found the answer here. Thanks admin for this info

  10. Alex Says:

    Thanks! Very clear and helpful.

  11. Taimur Rehman Says:

    Very helpful, thanks Bharath.

  12. Evan Says:

    Great time saver! Thank you

  13. Evan Says:

    Thanks for this great timesaver, much apprecaited!

  14. Larry James Says:

    Thank you for your instructions, they worked perfectly for me. Of all the domains I have verified in GWT, only 1 have I had this problem with. I feel it is because it is a GoDaddy domain redirected to blogger. I also had issues with getting the non www version of the domain to work with Blogger. It is all working now, thanks again.

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