Messed up url's and SEO - help needed


Well-known member
This is more an SEO question and it relates to my first forum which has been running a few years and doing well. I stopped bothering to use Google Analtics and search console quite some time ago. I have another forum as well but with this first one I hadn't a clue what I was doing when I first set it up (it's been a learning curve) and that's now coming back to bite me.

So I decided to start having adsense ads on it, and set up search console first. So this is where the problem started. The results in search console were good but when I pasted the odd url to be checked, it kept coming up it was a duplicate so couldn't be registered.

Turns out Google has the canonical url as https only without the www. And all my forum links are with the www.

So I should have left well alone but my attempts to get the www links searched/inspected started causing issues and I was trying to find out how to change Google's selected canonical url.

Found it was because I had the https: only set in the board so I changed it to the one with www in the board. The result of that means google now says neither are the canonical url and all my results have gone from search console.

I did have a good placement on google on the first page (which I know notice was an https only link) but none of the other pages come up because they were all www links.

So firstly I have probably messed up my google rankings, secondly I don't seem to have a canonical url now and nothing is being indexed at all in search console and thirdly adsense isn't actually placing under ads (stuck at "not ready" or something) - presumably because it sees issues with the site.

I had just set up search console and adsense for my second forum without a hitch so seems it's an issue with the canonical url's and indexing. I've now changed the board index back to https only. And not sure what to do now!
I read something about setting up a 301 redirect. So maybe I should leave the canonical url in the board as https only and set up a 301 redirect for https://www to the https url - and hope google eventually gets the picture. Does that sound like a plan? Except I've no idea how to set up a 301 redirect. Searched on here - something about ht.access?

Or other ideas or suggestions gratefully received. It's not the forum in my signature by the way, it's another one.
First make a decision www or not www and stick with it. I personally prefer with www because it brings with it some technical benefits if the site ever expands and you want or need to use an additional subdomain(s).

Once you decide which way you want to go, I can give you some .htaccess examples to force your site urls to the right canonical. Once that is done it can take some time for Google to reindex, during that time I would not expect your AdSense issues to clear up. How much time? A few weeks to a couple months.

Send me DM with your site info so I can see how the urls are now.
You can set the canonical in ACP > Options > Basic Options

put the URL you want there, be it with or without www.

Tick Enable board URL canonicalization

That should handle the redirects without any extra stuff in .htaccess and this will make Google happy (assuming it's the same as you have in GSC). It can take a few days/weeks for Google to pick up on it.
Top Bottom