Google and the 'www.' subdomain

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Yesterday's post on Coding Horror got me wondering how Google deals with
the "www." subdomain these days.  The prevailing wisdom is that Google
considers and as essentially two separate
sites; one should redirect users from to, or
vice-versa, so that a site's incoming links will not be split between
the two representations, as that would harm the site's search engine

But is this still true?  I ask because Google's webmaster tools has an
option to set either or as a site's
canonical domain for search results.  This would seem to imply that
Google now treats the two forms as conceptually the same site (with,
presumably although not necessarily, unified page ranks), at least as
far as search results go.

Any thoughts?

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Re: Google and the 'www.' subdomain

Quoted text here. Click to load it

No, it's google recognising that there are (to Google) *potentially* two
entities, and giving you the opportunity to reduce that by 50%.

And it works - but only for Google, of course.

The 301 solution works for any SE that now or ever has that problem.

And it is not always a problem for Google; there are many sites without the
301 that have always existed as either www or non-www; it's only when
someone links to the 'wrong' one, that it comes into existence in the serps.

It even happens to subdomains, if some well-meaning person adds the www in
case you forgot. And, of course similar 'ghosts' appear in forum URLs, and
machine generated pages, where multiple URLs are all possible, but only an
issue if someone uses them.

If Google finds a working link to a working URL, then that URL is added to
the index, if it is not already there.

The fact that Google recognises it and offers a workaround really changes



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