How to Set a Preferred Domain in Google Webmaster Tools?

Preferred domain?

Mutually Preferred domain is considered to be a domain which is used to index your site’s pages. A preferred domain is the version of your domain (www and non www) that you want to be shown in search results. In some cases it is also identified as “canonical domain”.

Why should you set a preferred domain?

Both www and non www versions of the website are treated as separate websites by the search engines and this makes search engines to index both the versions which cause duplicity. Therefore, we need to tell a search engine which is the main domain that we prefer to be indexed and shown in SERP’s.

For Google it can be set from Google Webmaster Tools.

Set preferred domain from Google Webmaster Tools

Set www or non www as a preferred domain

But some time it generates some unusual problems while you attempt to set it. One of my friends had also been facing problem in fixing his preferred domain in Google webmaster tools.

Below is the screen shot of the issues twirled his head.

How to Set a Preferred Domain in Google Webmaster Tools

Question1: Why am I unable to set my preferred domain as example.com?

Question2: I have actually verified my website using all 4 methods required by Google yet it is still asking me to verify the website. Why?

Question3: Why is it showing the domain as http://www.example.com? I am under the impression my website is http://example.com.

There is a one simple answer to all these questions.

Answer 1,2,3: You facing all these issues because your website with www (http://www.example.com) version is not yet verified. This means we have to verify both the versions of the website before setting a preferred domain.

In Google words:
”You may need to reverify ownership of your sites. Because setting a preferred domain impacts both crawling and indexing, we need to ensure that you own both versions.”

Things to keep in mind while setting any of the versions (www or non www) of the website as a preferred domain

  • Add and verify both versions (with www & without www) of the website in Google webmaster from same account.
  • Add & verify both the versions treating them as a new website.
  • Choose the same verification method for both the versions.
  • Once both the versions get verified set any of www or non www versions of the website that you like as a preferred domain.

Below is the screen shot

Preferred domain set to non www version

You will also receive a message from Google as a confirmation that your preferred domain is set and updated.

The issues my friend faced in creating his preferred domain are common to everyone but he managed to get rid of this successfully, implementing above discussed points. If you are one among them who has the same issues just go through with this entire process and fix your preferred domain without any hassle.