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For purely cosmetic reasons I'd like to change the redirect on my domain from www.example.com to example.com. There's plenty of SEO advice floating around on the internet, but in 2015 is this something that's considered to harm search rankings? Are there any other major drawbacks of doing this?

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If you take all the right steps, there isn't a lot to worry about.

  • 301 all existing pages (This is the major step!)
  • Set all you canonical tags right (This is your 2nd most important step)

You will lose a little PageRank for the redirect, but we're talking minimal amount here, nothing a little time won't fix.

Just read up on how to migrate sites (which is, from a bots point of view, what you're doing) and you'll be fine.

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As long as you have a 301 redirect from the www subdomain you're fine.

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If you don't use www, then I think you'll have a problem with having clients sending extra unnecessary data when fetching resources that don't require cookies such as images unless you use a completely new domain name for your resources other than the HTML itself. See:

http://www.phpied.com/www-vs-no-www-and-cookies/
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  • Important line from source: ..., if you're planning to use any other sub-domains and you want them cookie-free. – Martijn May 19 '15 at 7:05

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