Many people are asking about which domain is better, www or non-www. They want to know the difference to decide on what they should choose for their websites. If you want to perform a great job on your SEO, then you are probably interested in this topic.
If you are a small business owner, there is no difference if you choose either of the two. The domain you want will depend on your personal preference.
These two might have technical differences, which we will further discuss in this article, but the choice of a domain for some people is not a big deal.
What is a domain name?
Before starting the discussion about www vs. non-www, let us define first what a domain name is and its function.
The domain name is the first substring that follows https:// or http:// in an HTTP URL. It is hosted on a particular server where your document resides.
Take note that a server is not a physical machine. Several servers can be on one physical device. Moreover, one server can also be managed by different machines.
The one thing that you need to remember about domain names is that one single server is represented by one domain name.
What are the effects of these domain names to your site?
According to experts, there is nothing special about choosing either. Even Google will tell you that domain names depend entirely on your personal preference.
The only thing that you need to remember is consistency. You should stay with the same domain that you started using since day one. To make it simple: Never change the URL of your site or delete www from it.
Fortunately, you can tell Google about your preferred domain, and it will be honored. Just go to Google Webmaster Tools account and enter the name of your site.
However, if you haven’t added your site yet to Google Webmaster tool, then you might want to add it first.
If you have successfully added your site, you can click the gear icon on your screen’s top right corner. Choose site settings then select your domain.
However, if you are using WordPress SEO by Yoast, you do not have to perform those steps as your WP has already set a canonical URL for your site.
WWW vs. Non-WWW: Technical Difference
Adding www to your site helps your site to have flexibility with the DNS and the www also acts as your site’s hostname. Moreover, it can restrict cookies when multiple subdomains use it.
The non-www domain is also called the naked domain. It does not have any technical disadvantages.
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Do I need to choose between the two domains?
There are two answers to this question, and we’ll explain each answer to you below.
Yes, you must choose between www and non-www domain then stick with it. You have the power to decide which will be your canonical location but make sure that you will be consistent with your choice. Having consistency will have a positive impact to search engines and users.
If you need to link your site, make sure to use your chosen domain in the link. It goes the same with sharing your site’s link to social networks or via email.
No, you can have both domains. However, if you want to have both, you need to have a consistency about which one is the official domain of your site. Your official domain is also known as canonical name.
All your links should use the official domain of your site. You can still link the other domain, but you must use HTTP 301 redirect. With the 301 redirects, even if the user chooses the other domain, it will still be redirected to your canonical or official domain.
What are the benefits of WWW?
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Even though experts claim that there is no difference between www and non-www, believe us, there is a difference. The www domain is a better choice if you want to have a better SEO.
Here are the benefits of the www domain:
Performance and Speed
A Great site to test site speed (https://gtmetrix.com/)
These two have a significant role in your website’s SEO. In connection to that, sites with www domain have advantages over naked URLs about that matter.
The first advantage is with cookies. If you are using a naked URL, all cookies will be sent to all your site’s subdomains. While if you use a www domain, the cookies will not be sent to other subdomains.
The second advantage is with the CNAME records. Hosting providers do not recommend naked URLs. This is because having a www domain can give the hosting provider flexibility on redirecting traffic by using the DNS CNAME records.
Users usually type www when they want to go to a specific site. It doesn’t matter if the canonical domain of the URL includes www or not. Fortunately, no matter what domain the user enters, it will still be directed to the official domain.
However, it can affect your Page Rank. A direct link can add more page rank than links that are only redirected.
Your preferred domain name does not have SEO difference. However, if users see a www, the first thing that comes to their mind is it is a website.
Google uses www
If you ask for advice from different experts, they will give you varying answers. It is better to base your choice from brands that are at the top of search engine ranks like Bing, Yahoo, and Google. Those three are using the www domain, and that means something.
Should I make the switch?
Upon reading the above advantages of a www domain, you might have concluded that you should switch from a naked URL to a www domain. Please do not do that.
If you have started your site on a naked URL, it is better to stick with it. Since users are already familiar with your domain name, switching to a www domain can affect your page rank. All your efforts for your site will be wasted if you change your domain now.
You can always choose a www domain if you build a new website.
Both domains would do well for your website as long as it helps with your page rank. It may be a cliché, but consistency is the key.