There’s a lot of confusion surrounding www vs non www. You might have heard people compare these two domains. While both versions of websites are valid, is there any slight difference that you should consider?

If you’re wondering if using a “non-www” domain name for your site is better than using a “www” domain name, then this article is for you. So, let’s talk about it!

WWW vs Non WWW: What Happens When Your Website Uses Both

At the beginning of the Internet, each URL began with just a “www.” Over time, URLs were being generated without the “www,” which could be attributed to the fact that people did not always enter “www” when they searched for a website.

As a result, when both of these websites work, Google treats them as two separate websites. The resulting problem is that Google thinks they are two different websites, when in fact, they are one site.

The Nitty-Gritty of WWW vs Non WWW

Ever wonder why you need to add (or not to add) the www prefix when accessing websites from a browser? Why do such domain styles need to be understood from the SEO perspective? Before we begin to understand the SEO side of www vs non www website URLs, let’s take a look at what these two styles are and their pros and cons.

From an SEO perspective, the www preferred version of the domain gives a marginal improvement in website performance. This translates into delivering a better user experience which improves your site’s search engine ranking.

What Are Non-WWW URLs?

A non-www domain, also called naked domain or naked URL, refers to a domain name without a web server. They are often considered to be the most basic form of domain names. People commonly used them before the introduction of WWW. Naked domains are mostly free to register and do not require request verification of ownership.

What is a WWW Domain?

Websites with a www URL can adjust to the Domain Name System (DNS) so that they don’t accept cookies if they are being utilized across different domains. Non-www websites do not offer this capability.

Another of the biggest advantages of having a WWW domain is its positive impact on your rankings in search results. Search engines such as Bing and Google prefer pages with a www domain, thus making sure they appear higher in search term rankings than those with just a standard domain.

Even though they’re virtually identical, search engines regard the www and non-www versions of a site differently. As such, an issue regarding duplicate content happens.

WWW vs Non WWW: Can You Use Both for SEO?

In the SEO technical sense, you can use both www and non-www domain names; it brings down to your personal preference, although it’s not recommended. A preferred domain with the prefix www gives you a slight advantage over using a standard type of domain name without the “www.”

Here are things you must remember:

  • You should use only one preferred version and be consistent with it across every page, including those in subdomains. Otherwise, Google may treat this as two different domains.
  • If you want to host both pages, then you’ll have to index both URLs (one per page) in Google Search Console; otherwise, you’ll have duplicate content issues, and you’ll lose some of your internal link equity. So you either have to go with one URL (for SEO reasons) or use a different preferred domain name.
  • Most use the “www” preferred version of website naming overusing simple URLs because most modern sites tend to be linked through “www,” and if a site links to you, they generally link to the “www” version since the “www” is easier to remember.
  • You can also tell Google which URL they should consider a non-canonical domain if they find it when searching for content on your website. This way, you tell Google, “I know there are two separate sites hosted at my domain name  These two pages are duplicates with different locations, but I want them to be treated as if they were the same page.”
  • If you need subdomain websites, you might want to make them different enough from your main website so they can be distinguished. For example, you could call the blog “www.myblog.com/blog” instead of just “blog” or “mysite.com/blog.” You might also want to use a different hostname for each separate domain, such as “www.mysite.com” vs “mysite.com.”
  • With some effort, you can replicate the benefits of www domains without having them. These benefits include limiting cookies for static content, which may be useful for protecting against third-party tracking. The bottom line is, whether you use WWW or non-WWW, the most important thing is that you retain good performance.

Why Choosing WWW URLs Is a Great SEO Benefit for Your Website

Setting your website’s preferred domain name properly is very important for a great user experience. This is why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) always includes using the right domain protocol format, e.g., www.

Links

Links play a big role in a website’s ability to rank, and direct links add more ranking capacity than links to permanent redirects, which can be achieved via a 301 redirect. Often, web admins link to websites using the www prefix, whether they are a non-canonical domain or not, and often do so without realizing this may cause them problems later.

Performance and Speed

As websites get ever larger, performance and speed become increasingly important. Websites can use the www type of URL to improve the speed and experience of their pages.

CNAME Records

Some hosting providers do not recommend naked domain names. The primary reason for this recommendation is that you can use DNS CNAME records to redirect traffic from a failed single server.

For websites that include webpages served from a different address (e.g., static.domain.com), a good practice is to use a “cookieless” domain name (e.g., static.domain.com) so that cookies do not transfer across domains.

As noted above, if you are going to use a naked domain as your canonical domain, you should make sure that the additional cookies are disabled on your static subdomain so that they don’t end up being sent to other parts of your site.

Google Uses the WWW

If you want to know how to optimize your site, there are hundreds of people who will tell you exactly what you need to do. They are so numerous that you would be wise to follow the advice that they provide simply.

But if you want to find out how to make your website work better for you, you should pay attention to the top three search engine rankings. They all use the www version of your domain name. This means that you should always put www in front of every domain in your website address.

Why You Need to Choose One Domain As a Primary Domain

Set one domain as your primary domain choice. Doing so redirects other domains to a particular address instead of your default domain. This helps prevent any problems that may arise from duplicate content within your site.

You should always remember that your website needs to have only one URL so that people can get to your site easily. In addition, your URL needs to be consistent with the URL structure you originally chose while setting up your website.

If you created your website using www, then do not change it to a non-www version. If you did this, visitors might find it difficult to reach your site.

Why You Need Choose Which to Index (While You Still Can)

If you do not want the www version of your site indexed, you must remove the www domain address from your web server configuration. In addition, indexing two different pages for the same URL can cause problems such as duplicate content, so if you’re going to do that, make sure you also check for URLs that might be “duplicates” before indexing them.

When Google detects multiple identical pages on a website, it can either remove the site altogether (excluding it from search) or punish it by excluding it from search results.

If you have noticed duplicate versions of your site, such as www and non-www, then you should make sure that a 301 redirect happens from one version to the other so that search engines can index both pages correctly.

Why Non-WWW Domains Can Be an Organizational Disaster

Using the WWW hostname allows for easy segregation in the file structure of your web pages. All files under the WWW directory are directly related to serving the page to the public. This allows for simple root-level site organization, such as having a dev directory and another subdirectory for your development site.

To End

The short answer to the www vs non www issue is that there is no major technical difference, but there are small benefits. But if you probe deeper, you will realize that www domains have some slight technical benefits that improve a website’s performance. Do you need help improving your SEO rankings? Our SEO specialists can help you! Contact us now.

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