A few technical elements determine your website’s domain and overall URL structure. In this article, we’ll look at whether using www or non-www in your website’s URL is better for SEO.
Both www and non-www have advantages and disadvantages, but you must understand the implications of your choice. If you’re not careful, you might end up with duplicate versions of your website, which can harm your SEO and ranking in the SERPs. Here’s how a properly configured website URL can help you keep the visitors coming.
Understanding the URL Structure
It is critical to understand that many seemingly insignificant details go into creating your website’s URL. Each of these details affects the location of your website as well as how search engines such as Google crawl and index it.
HTTP and HTTPS
HTTP is a standard language protocol that allows browsers to communicate with clients and servers. Most URLs begin with http://. If your site has an SSL Certificate or Transport Layer Security (TLS), the URL will begin with https:// rather than http://.
Domain names are an important part of the internet because they allow users to navigate between websites. Domain names serve as human-readable (and easily remembered!) addresses. We’d be surfing the web memorising IP numbers instead of company and brand names if we didn’t have them. WWW Domain Prefix
The WWW prefix is used to aid in the identification of a web address or location. It is essentially a subdomain (similar to ftp.domainname or blog.domainname) that is used to identify a more specific location. This is typically found on larger websites.
However, unlike traditional subdomains, including the WWW prefix is no longer required unless there is a compelling reason to do so.
The www prefix comes before the domain name in a URL:
What are WWW and non-WWW?
When we talk about www vs non-www, we’re referring to whether the www prefix appears in the domain name.
Here’s an example of a www domain:
Here’s a non-www domain:
The WWW (“World Wide Web”) prefix has traditionally denoted websites that can be accessed via the internet. For most of the internet’s history, most websites used a “www” prefix followed by a domain name. It is now treated as a subdomain, making it optional for those who want to simplify their URL with a non-www version of their domain.
WWW vs. non-WWW Differences: Pros and Cons
The internet is a unique environment. In terms of web standards, at least.
Because there are billions of internet users, the adoption of new ways of doing things is slow, and breaking the internet is in no one’s best interests. The distinction between www and non-www domains may fade away someday, but there are some user experience and technical differences to be aware of right now.
To begin, it is critical to understand that a website URL containing WWW is technically in a different location than a website URL containing non-WWW.
As an example:
https://www.hosting-australia.com will take you somewhere other than https://hosting-australia.com.
WWW’s Cookie Handling
Cookies, once a staple of the internet, function similarly whether you use www or non-www on your website.
Except for one exception. Cookies are prevented from transferring across many sub-domains when websites use www.
So, if your website has multiple sub-domains (app.domainname.com, login.domainname.com, or help.example.com) and you want cookies to be unique for each sub-domain, use the www prefix.
Configuration of the WWW CDN
On the end-user side, using non-www domains is more intuitive. Non-www websites are frequently typed in by internet users by accident (even for websites that use www). This means that using non-www URLs for sites with a lot of direct traffic results in fewer redirects. When discussing or referencing URLs, most people ignore “www.” prefixes.
How Browsers handle WWW
Furthermore, modern browsers are beginning to hide the www part of website URLs in the search bar, resulting in a cleaner look at the site URL. The browser does not remove the www from the URL. It simply does not appear until the user clicks into the URL bar to edit or change the URL.
Is concealing that element a portent of things to come? Perhaps, but for the time being, browsers are focused on making things as simple as possible for the average internet user. They aren’t concerned about displaying the www prefix because there is no technical difference between displaying it and not.
SEO Advantages of Using WWW vs. Non-WWW
Search engines do not prefer www or non-www and do not use it as a ranking factor. Choosing one over the other isn’t important for SEO. What matters is that ONE of the options is configured correctly — never both. SEO penalties can result from incorrectly configuring www or non-www.
Duplicate Content Poses an SEO Risk
Duplicate content can be considered as having both www and non-www URL versions of a page or post, which can harm SEO.
Duplicate content is content that appears multiple times on the same website (and in some cases other websites). On any website, some content overlap is unavoidable. Using both www and non-www, on the other hand, generates two full, exact versions of each page, post, and archive location. This effectively duplicates your entire website—one at www.example.com and one at example.com. This becomes more complicated if you allow both HTTP and HTTPS protocols on your website.
This may not appear to be a major issue, but it can have serious consequences. Simply put, having two versions of your website will cause search engines to become confused. Some of your pages will be indexed by search engines on the www domain, while others will be indexed on the non-www domain.
You don’t want half of your domain authority to be built on one of two different versions of your base URL. It will not only be perplexing as to which version to index and rank, but it may also penalise both versions and tank your rankings. As a result, your website’s search traffic and performance will suffer.
If you have both or are concerned, you can use 301 redirects. This can cause the unwanted URL version to be redirected to the desired version. Many hosting providers will have a redirect to the WWW version of your domain set up by default for non-WWW domains to avoid any conflict. If not, you can always use a plugin to perform the necessary redirects.
Which Should I Use: WWW or Non-WWW?
In terms of SEO, we’ve discovered a deadlock. Using a www or non-www URL has no effect on your site’s SEO. Using a www URL may have some technical advantages in a few areas, and for that reason, it should be preferred over non-www URLs. The most important thing is to use it consistently. Once you’ve decided whether to use www, stick with it.
SEO is an important factor to consider for any website owner. The use of www vs. non-www in your URL isn’t a major ranking factor for your site. Simply remember to follow the best practices listed above, and you’ll be able to concentrate on other aspects of SEO.