www and non-www domains – is one better than the other for SEO?

www and non-www domains – is one better than the other for SEO?

The next in my series of quick and easy SEO Question and Answer blogs: this one from Linda, a recent attendee at my SEO workshop.

SEO question:

“When it comes to www and non-www domains, is one better than the other from an SEO point of view?”

Short answer:

No. Choosing to with go www or without www in your domain name won’t make any difference in terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Long answer:

Whether you choose to have www at the start of your domain or go with the non-www option is a matter of personal preference.

Personally I prefer to include www in my domain. Why? Well I want to just to differentiate from all the other branded sites I have, like:

  • @katetooncopy for Twitter
  • katetoon+ for Google

For me having the www says ‘this is my WEB address, okay?’
(Quite a lot of web users are as thick as a bag of hair and any help I can give them to find my site, makes life easier.)

Others think non-www is cleaner and that www is a big fat waste of time.

According to Dan Petrovic

“www is silly and should be abolished. Do your part.”

Or in the satirical words of Perry Bernard

“www is pointless wasted letters and just a ploy by “w” key manufacturers to get you to wear it out so you have to buy a new one.”

Put simply: Your website should rank whether you use www or not.

But once you have made a choice please be consistent:

  • Make sure your site appears the same way across the web – otherwise Google will consider it two different versions and your page rank will be divided between them).
  • Set up automatic forwarding/redirecting using 301 redirects.
  • Make sure you redirect using canonical URLS
  • And set which one you use in Google Webmaster tools (thanks Matt Hoff for that tip)

One possible SEO issue would be if you already have a large number of links pointing to the non-www and www domains and they haven’t been correctly 301ed to you preferred versions.

So, it might be an idea to check which domain has the most links pointing at it and use this as the basis for your decision.

Jan-Willem Bobbink advised me that one small consideration is that some external platforms like social media, automatically make domains with www clickable and non-www not. And Terry Van Horne pointed out that some directories want the www and an / at the end of a submitted URL.

So there you go. Make your choice and do what needs doing but don’t fret from an SEO point of view.

Further reading:

How to set your preferred domain

Thanks to everyone mentioned above and James Norquay, Doc Sheldon and Ken Rohrer for their helpful answers.

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