Google says my site Doesn't Exist!

It has become the trend over the past year for major search engines to only list the domain searched for in search results rather than all pages relating to that specific domain. On Google, Alltheweb, MSN and Altavista when you search for on Google you will see only our listing rather than millions of web pages that contain the phrase or pages on
This is all well and good if it also included variants such as but it doesn’t. If you type into Google it says the web site doesn’t exist.

This is because our DNS redirects all requests to the www. subdomain. This means that if you type directly into your browser you will be sent to and this is where all search engine crawlers are sent. We could fix this by changing our servers to redirect all requests directly to the requested files but this causes duplication issues on Google. How ridiculous is that?
As www. is thought of as a subdomain, and are seen by the majority of major search engines as being two separate domains the same as and are.

This means that even if you have been building a great linking structure to your www. version of the domain, if Google were to view the www as a duplicate of the non-www version then the www version would be dropped and the non-www version would be included in the search results.
This of course means that you have no inbound links to your non-www domain and you are dropped in ranking. Also, any PageRank Google attributes to the www version of the domain is not passed to the non-www version. All Clear?

This spreads to every page on your site, if you change your servers to show files for both www and non-www requests then you will basically have an exact copy of your web site. For example, these pages:

on our site would have exact copies on:

As other sites link directly to the www versions, if GoogleBot were to assume that the non-www versions were the originals and the www versions were duplicates then the www versions would be dropped from the rankings and replaced by the non-www version. This means that all the inbound links to www versions are worth nothing and will not affect our ranking.

As far as I know, there are no ways around this. Meta refresh scripts, Javascripts, 301 or 302 redirects will all result in duplicate pages being created in the Google index. The only thing that can work is to create framed pages for the non-www domain that include framesets of the www versions. This will allow search engines to show that the non-www version of your site exists without duplicating content and your framed pages will never replace your content pages.

Personally, I feel that if you are not showing up for non-www searches on search engines such as Google, Alltheweb, Altavista or MSN it is best just to put up with it. Hopefully your customers will be smart enough to try again with the www infront rather than believing that the site no longer exists.

Written by Michael Beverley
Director, Internet Heaven

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