During the Q&A in John Mueller’s hangout on 09/24/2021, one webmaster was concerned about a site migration. Their site is number one on Google, both pages and posts.
They asked about moving a site that’s on non-www to www and how to do it without affecting SEO.
John explained that doing site migrations according to Google’s guidelines for site moves is the best option. By the way, you can find their guidelines for site migrations here.
He believes that a move from non-www to www is something that should happen fairly smoothly.
We agree. In most cases, changing from non-www to www is going to have very little impact on SEO. But also keep in mind that moving from non-www to www is actually going to make the URL longer, which is something you don’t want. You want to keep the URL as short as possible.
This exchange happens at 37:48 in the video.
John Mueller 09/24/2021 Hangout Transcript
My website is on non-www, which is ranked number one on Google, both pages and posts. I want to switch from the non-www version to the www version. What’s the best way to do it without affecting SEO? And is there any risk of changing when you do that?
John (Answer) 38:13
So the best way to do this is to follow the normal site move guidelines that we have.
And essentially everything is outlined there. So with regards to tracking the URLs that you have previously, to kind of the following through with a redirect and making sure that all of that is set up properly, I would follow those things. My feeling is that overall, a move within the same domain where you’re just changing essentially, a different subdomain is something that is fairly unproblematic and should happen, essentially, fairly smoothly. And if you set up the redirects properly, if you’re not blocking things in any specific way, then I would imagine that this is something that is processed within a week or so even for a medium-sized website, it should be like a fairly straightforward move just from one subdomain to another. Moving between domains is a little bit trickier. Moving or kind of splitting or merging websites, that’s a lot trickier.
But this kind of move from one version to another version is usually totally unproblematic. And it’s also something where, if it were to take a little bit longer, it doesn’t change anything for the user, because they would click on the old link and just end up on the new page. And it would all just work. So I think this is totally unproblematic and probably something that’s easily doable.
The main thing I would think about here, though, is that this is always like a site move kind of situation where you have a lot of work that’s involved. So I would kind of consider what are you really trying to do by moving like this? What is the problem that you’re trying to fix? Because it might be that you do all of this stuff and essentially everything is the same in the end if you get it right. But if everything’s the same in the end, why are you even doing it? So that’s kind of the direction I would look at there. Yeah, and Michael just asked the same question as well, kind of like why would you do this? I could imagine there might be situations where you have a CDN where you need to do that to have kind of a separate hostname. But if there is no strong technical reason to do it, I would just keep it as it is.