Saturday, February 06, 2010

Your Blog, Schizophrenia, And The Search Engines

One of my most intriguing subjects (to me, anyway) examines the differences between the "root" alias of a BlogSpot blog, and the "www" alias (ie, "bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com" and "www.bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com").

The fact that they are separately stored in browser cache will cause mysterious results, when the blog is viewed alternately using the two different aliases.

This is not a terrible problem for your readers, when they simply read the blog. It can cause problems with the search engines, though, as they index your blog based upon inlinks from your readers.

When you publicise your BlogSpot blog, you are hopefully careful to use only one of the aliases, consistently.

If this blog was published only to "bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com", that is the URL that I would use. But there are reasons why Blogger provides us with the use of the "www" alias too, and that has very likely spawned a community of bloggers who refer to their blogs using the "www" alias.

If your blog is inlinked by a blogger of the latter community, I will bet that some of them are similarly inlinking to the "www" alias on your blog. So now, you are going to have some readers inlinking to the "root" of your blog, and others inlinking to the "www" alias.

What do the search engines do? They index based upon the inlinks, then they see duplicated content between the two diferent addresses, and they levy the infamous "duplicated content" penalty. Worse yet - because of the asynchronous cache issue, they're going to also index different content occasionally.

Google has provided us with a solution to this "split personality" problem. If you setup Google Webmaster Tools for your blog, click on the "gear" icon, and select "Site Settings". For "Preferred domain", you'll have the choice to have your blog indexed consistently, as either the "root" or the "www" alias.
If you specify your preferred domain as http://www.example.com and we find a link to your site that is formatted as http://example.com, we'll treat that link as if it was http://www.example.com.

You should note that, if you're using a custom domain published blog, as in "www.example.com", this option is more likely to work if you setup the domain DNS properly.

A very simple setting, easy to make, and with apparently magical results. No more schizophrenic indexing. Simple, no?
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8 comments:

Dudel said...

Note: You must verify BOTH addresses with Webmaster Tools as alternate websites otherwise you can't select which you prefer.

This took myself a bit of thinking, sadly.

Chuck said...

Dudel,

An interesting conclusion. Two problems:
1. You can only verify URLs that are published. GWT entries have to equal, precisely, each blog published URL. You cannot publish a blog to both the root, and "www" alias.
2. I have yet to add GWT for both the root and "www" alias, for any blog. I have most of my blogs, now, set for "Preferred domain". I checked for both BlogSpot and custom domain published blogs, and I have some of each, all using a set "Preferred domain".

So, we have to figure out how you got to this point.

Dudel said...

All I know is that it worked! XD

I registered both unamusement.blogspot.com and www.unamusement.blogspot.com as different blogs which I had to verify I owned (Meaning I've both verify tags on my HTML template).

Webmaster tools gave me an error while only having unamusement.blogspot.com saying www.unamusement.blogspot.com had to be verified... this can't be done without the meta tag and using the alternate address option. So after a bit of going "But that doesn't seem right from everything I've hard" and "but I don't wanna" I just shrugged and decided to go with it.

Now it works.

That means I probably messed up somewhere. Probably in dropping the "http://"

Chuck said...

Well, I see 2 verification tags, in the HTML.
1. <meta content='yadda yadda' name='verify-v1'/>
2. <meta content='blah blah' name='google-site-verification'/>

Why Google Sites?

Dudel said...

That is simply the meta tag which I was given while using my Google account with Blogger, Webtools, etc.

Perhaps the issue is that I use my yahoo email instead of something 100% Google? O.o

Again, I don't know... it simply works. *shrugs*

Noor said...

excelent explanation, :D not schezoid at all

Livestreampro.com said...

Hi, Thank you for your Post. I followed the steps you told me on my blog http://livestreampro.blogspot.com/

When I went to the Preferred domain tab under the Site Configuration> Settings, it says 'Restricted to root level domains only'.. and no option to select.

Please can you help. How do I put the 301 redirect on my blogspot.

Chuck said...

Live,

I think this is where I suggest that you post this query in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, so we can diagnose the problem interactively.