Changing to force non-www...bad idea?

mikey3times

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I think www is kind of outdated and unnecessary at this point. My newest site is non-www, but my 9-year-old site forces www through htaccess. I'm thinking of changing the htaccess file to force non-www.

Before I do that, does anyone see any ranking concerns (short-term or long-term) with this?

I don't think there should be any since I'm not 301 redirecting anything...it will just be through htaccess. I believe I just have to make sure the canonical link is set to non-www. Eventually, google will pick up the new URLs, but in the meantime everything will automatically change. All my backlinks and any internal absolute links will still work.

I did notice that Google forces www. Not sure that should necessarily factor into the decision, but it is worth considering.
 

CCarter

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Just an FYI - www.example.com and example.com are considered 2 different pages. Just like https:// and http:// are considered 2 different pages.

Choosing between "www" versus "non-www" should be thought of when you built the site, just like "https" and "http" - cause all the waste in time and resources switching back and forth doesn't add any revenue or anything positive and can lead to only negative outcomes - at least in the short term. I chose "www" in my scenario cause I need "api.example.com" and potentially other subdomains in the future. So that's something to think about way before the project launches.

However this is a no-money project - but more importantly since you are employing a 301 redirect you'll be losing ~15% of the link juice that comes with it. All 301 redirects lose some juice. All for what? Cause you think "www" is outdated? Seriously?

There is only down side to this and zero upside. And if a majority of your traffic is not type in and Google traffic anyways, what's the point?

This is another form of procrastination.
 

mikey3times

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This came up because I was setting up a staging sub-domain and it kept going to www.test.example.com. I realized I had turned on force www in my CMS. So I have to turn that off so I can work in test.example.com...that means I have to remember to turn it back on when I merge back into the main site.

I’ve always made changes to a live site and I’m trying to set up a proper staging setup. So, yeah, I think it is outdated, but it is also one less thing on the checklist for when I’m staging.

Also, I now see that the htaccess does use 301, so it would be a loss of link juice. Amateur mistake.

I’ll stick with www and keep that switch on the staging checklist since it only takes a few seconds before re-merging.
 

Ryuzaki

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Doing something like this carries nothing but risk and volatility with zero benefit other than vanity satiation.

By the way, Google claims 301's don't lose any link juice now. They had to make that change when they pushed for everyone to switch to HTTPS.

I'm with you. I don't use www any more either. But I don't recommend going back and changing old and established sites. Just let them keep making money.

Regarding your sub-domain issue on the staging server, I recommend using a sub-folder rather than a sub-domain (perhaps a sub-folder on a domain meant for staging all of your sites). This is easier to manage with relative URLs or using functions designed to spit out the path to homepage or theme folder, etc. Using those and never hardcoding a full file path makes it a piece of cake.

For sites that I need constant staging access to, I just buy a cheap $1.99 per year .info or whatever, it doesn't matter. $0.99 .xyz even. Then I block all traffic to it but my own IP address and do everything through SFTP.
 

mikey3times

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For sites that I need constant staging access to, I just buy a cheap $1.99 per year .info or whatever, it doesn't matter. $0.99 .xyz even. Then I block all traffic to it but my own IP address and do everything through SFTP.
Nice idea. So then you just manually copy everything back and forth? I find it takes 20 minutes to copy all the files over and update the database. Softaculous takes about 1 minute. (I try to avoid maintenance mode.)
 

Ryuzaki

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Nice idea. So then you just manually copy everything back and forth? I find it takes 20 minutes to copy all the files over and update the database. Softaculous takes about 1 minute. (I try to avoid maintenance mode.)
It depends on the size of the changes. If it's just a template or two I'll copy only those over. If it's the database then you can create a new database and copy it into there, then tell your CMS to use the "new" database. If you do substantial changes to your theme you can get it installed and ready, then just change themes. There's lots of little tricks to move around with minimal down time that also allow you to switch back in a heartbeat if something went wrong.
 

Steve

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What's your CMS? It's probably possible to set up a git deploy workflow, which makes staging very simple and smooth (push from dev, pull on staging to test, pull on live).