www vs non-www
What’s the difference? Why does it matter? Which is better for SEO? How should this be handled?
These are common questions in digital marketing land. Here we’ll attempt to answer them in simple non-computer-geek English.
What’s the difference?
There is a technical difference, but really only concerns GIANT sites with millions of visitors, across multiple subdomains, hosted on multiple servers. For most small businesses, there’s really no difference. If you’d like to dig deeper into the technical considerations, go here: http://www.yes-www.org/why-use-www/
Why does it matter?
For your visitors it won’t matter, but in the eyes of the GOOGLE it does. The problem comes down to what is called ‘canonical urls’ – technically, the Search Engines consider these to be three different websites:
This creates a dilemma for them – which do they rank? It creates a dilemma for you because your link building efforts may be diluted across multiple domains… AND you have a duplicate content issue.
Which is better for SEO?
There’s no difference. Even Google says so. The importance is to pick one, stick to it, and build your internal links, and inbound links (when you’re able) accordingly.
We generally prefer the non-www version because it’s easier to say, write, and print. WWW feels clunky to branding and a bit antiquated – no one says “word wide web” anymore, so why use the abbreviation? That’s just us.
How should this be handled?
- If you’ve specified and used one version in the past then stick with it. Don’t change.
- If you’ve not specified or are just getting started with a domain then tell Google which you prefer. Set up a Google Search Console account, verify both the www and non-www versions of your site, and then set your ‘Preferred Domain’ under ‘Site Settings’.
- 301 Redirect the www version to non-www version