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Technical SEO : What is a Preferred Domain?

What is a Preferred Domain?

A preferred domain is the version (www or non-www) of your domain that you want to show in search results. A preferred domain is also the domain that you want your users to be redirected to whether they type in www or not.

When setting up your website or blog, you need to specify your preferred domain. By doing so you instruct search engines as to which variation of the domain you want to use throughout the lifetime of your website.

A website by default is accessible with www and without www in front of a domain name.

For example, if my domain is my website can be accessed by both and (i.e. without the www).

While this is ok for users, it is confusing for search engines because they consider these as two different websites.

This means that you may encounter indexing issues, duplicate content problems and loss of page rank.

To solve this problem, you need to set your preferred domain and inform search engines about your choice.

Which Should be your Preferred Domain: WWW or Non-WWW?

One of the questions many people have is whether to use www in front of their domain or to go with the non-www version.

There is no SEO advantage from choosing the one format over the other, it’s a matter of personal preference.

I prefer to have www in front of my domains because it seems more natural to me but there is nothing wrong if you decide to go with the http version.

In case you change your mind, you can use 301 redirections to switch between the different formats, but this is not recommended because there is always a risk from making domain migrations.

Popular websites that use www domains are:
Some reasons to use the non-www version as your preferred domain are as follows:
  • To shorten the length of your website URL.
  • User experience; many users type the URL without the www.
Popular websites that do not use www domains are:

How to set your preferred domain?

In the past, the setting to specify your preferred domain was available in Google Search Console.

Insert the following code in the .htaccess file on cPanel (www to non-www)

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

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