Preferred Domain Version

When it comes to SEO, domain names can get complicated. Typically, there are multiple versions of a domain that can be used and as an SEO, we have to choose just one that we are going to use permanently.

URL Anatomy

It’s important to understand the basic parts of a URL before we get started.


Different Versions of Domains

There are usually two versions of a domain name to choose from. You can either have a www subdomain or no subdomain.

Example: and

If the site has an SSL certificate installed, then there can be up to four versions of a domain name. This will include the two listed above, plus the two additional listed below:

Example: and

Table of Possible Domain Versions

Protocol With Subdomain Without Subdomain

Setting The Preferred Version

Once you have decided which version you are going to stick with, the preferred version should be the same in all the tools listed below.

Item Where to Access
WordPress Admin* General Settings
Google Analytics Property Settings
Google Search Console Site Settings
Redirects .htaccess file, cPanel, plugins, etc.

*If the site is not WordPress, the CMS you are using should have some area where you can choose the preferred domain.

WordPress Admin

You can log into WordPress and click on Settings > General. Here you can see what the preferred version is.


Google Analytics

If you go to the Property Settings in Google Analytics, you can see which version is being tracked. If you make any changes here, make sure to view live traffic data to make sure Google Analytics is still tracking properly.


Google Search Console

Go into Google Search Console and make sure each version is verified using “Domain” or “URL Prefix” method.



You should try to access each version of the domain in your web browser by typing it in manually into the address bar. The preferred version should give you a 200 HTTP status code. The other versions should all 301 redirect to the preferred version. Here’s an example of what should happen if was the preferred version:

Notes Version HTTP Status Code Redirects To 301 301 301
Preferred Version 200 Does not redirect

TIP: Here is a great Chrome extension that will show you the HTTP status codes.

If the domain is not redirecting properly, you will have to contact the hosting company for help or an experienced web developer. If you are super experienced in this area yourself, then you can try to fix this in the .htacess file, in cPanel or via a WordPress plugin.