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In Terms Of WWW vs Non-WWW: Which One Is Best When It Comes To SEO?

Is there an impact when you use WWW vs non-WWW on your SEO? Which is the preferred one for search engines? While optimizing your website or surfing the net, you may have stumbled upon sites that don’t use the prefix WWW, they instead go for a non-WWW like the examples below.

Example 1- WWW URLs:

  • http://www.example1.com
  • https://www.example1.com

Example 2- non-WWW URLs:

  • http://example2.com
  • https://example2.com

Does it impact SEO when you use WWW or no-WWWW? Does it matter at all? Before getting into all that, let’s look at the definition of each. 

What Are They?

It’s very often described with ‘WWW’ if a URL includes The World Wide Web, or not. What this means is- when using the internet, what collection of multimedia and text files can be accessed. 

In order to serve the website, your browser must connect to it, therefore, the web address/URL is translated into an IP address from the name server so that the page you’re trying to reach can be served.

All domains were started with WWW when the internet first started, but as it grew more and more domains started to go with non-WWW. Why? Because behavior changes and so does user behavior. We’re living in a world with ever-evolving tech.

Fun fact: A domain that is non-WWW is often referred to as a ‘naked’ URL.

Which One Is Better For SEO?

From an SEO perspective, it doesn’t really matter which one you’re using. However, there are pros and cons for both. If your preferred version of your site is non-WWW, the WWW domain must not be indexed.

For example, if you have a non-www domain and it’s ‘https://example.com’, that’s 100% fine, because if you type in ‘https://www.example.com’ it will automatically give you 301 and redirect you to the correct/preferred page, which is the non-WWW one.

If you should have both versions indexed, it will potentially cause an issue with duplicate content and spread link equity across both versions of the websites. It will be seen that the WWW version has far less organic traffic and referring domains. The reason for this is because it’s redirected to the non-WWW domain version.

The correct thing to do is stick with one version, and go with that one. If you really want to use both, ensure that you don’t set up 302 redirects and 301 to the preferred version instead. 

The reason for this is, 302 redirects don’t transfer your PageRank to the page/domain that it’s redirected to as well as 301s do. 

You create a seamless experience for your users when you set up redirects. Google will immediately recognize the domain and accordingly spread the link authority, and so will other search engines.

Which One Should Be Used?

Whichever one you choose, however, there’s a possibility that WWW domains will eventually become obsolete/non-existent because users don’t bother with putting them in when searching for a desired website/domain.

It’s becoming more common on both desktop and mobile sites like Google Chrome, where the WWW is automatically hidden in the browser by default, which can be an indication of WWW becoming obsolete in the near future. 

Can Both Versions Be Used In My Domain?

It can yes, however it’s not recommended to use both WWW and non-WWW.  Google will simply see it as two separate sites. With both versions indexed, you will be required to maintain both in the Google search console and potentially face content issues with duplicates.

This can lead to affecting your search engine rankings in a negative way, so it would be best to choose only one and run with it. In a previous article, we discussed canonical tags. These tags can be used if you have a technical issue with setting up 301 redirects, sending a signal to Google that you know there’s a duplicate page and the canonical tag indicates the preferred one. (The WWW version on the non-WWW domain.)

Again, it’s important to keep in mind that Google treats canonical tags, not as an instruction, but rather as a recommendation.