Root Domains and SSL

by Brian Toomey, JB Analytics CEO

There are several common configuration options that can lead to issues if not addressed and made consistent.

www vs. non-www

Both a www and non-www version of pages can be live and accessible.

  1. Subdomain =
  2. Root (aka “naked”) Domain =

It doesn’t typically matter which version is used as long as one is selected and made canonical. In cases where both are/have been in use, prior to standardizing this, check to see which version holds greater domain authority and inbound links.

Why it matters

Having multiple versions of your content makes it hard for search engines to decide which one to show, and sometimes leads to internal competition. Having all the authority of a piece of content concentrated in one URL means it has a better chance of showing up. 

Messy URL structure can also be a negative quality signal, something that tells search engines that the site in question isn’t as neat and tidy as it could be.

What to do

  • 301 redirect all non-www URLs to the www equivalent or vice versa.
  • Replace internal links to non-www content with the www equivalent or vice-versa.

Which version to choose can depend on a number of factors, such as which is most commonly linked to externally or used in promotional materials. 

JB analytics combines a passion for data and disciplined research with a hard-nosed obsession with driving real business results. We use them for testing, analytics, and search acquisition digital strategy, and recommend them strongly.

http vs. https

What it is

The “s” in https:// signals a secure connection via SSL. It is possible for sites to make both http and https versions of html content accessible.

Why it matters

  • SSL is a best practice and should be implemented on your site. 
  • Not only does Google treat this as a quality signal, Google and other major search engines treat http and https URLs separately and differently. Running both http and https will, in effect, show two copies of pages and split search authority between them. 
  • Inconsistently applied https can also contribute to insecure content warnings showing up in browsers.

What to do

  • Implement SSL on your site
  • If you are implementing SSL for the first time on an existing website, consult with an SEO professional
    • SSL implementations commonly result in issues like: content duplication, redirect chains, and broken links.
  • Redirecting all http pages to https (establish consistency)
  • Replacing any internal links to http content with the https equivalent (secure content).

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