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WWW vs. non-WWW For SEO

By December 26, 2017February 27th, 2018SEO, Technical SEO

There is no SEO benefit to WWW URLs vs non-WWW URLs. Best practice is to pick one as the preferred version and use server-side redirects to ensure all visitors (human and search engine) end up on one single preferred version of the URL.

What Is WWW?

First let’s start with URL structure:

In the URL above, there are three parts:

  • Protocol
  • Subdomain
  • Domain name

Protocol is a topic for another time, but WWW is technically a subdomain. Websites often use multiple subdomains for different purposes: one for email, one for intranet access, etc. The www subdomain has traditionally been used as the designated subdomain for public-facing websites.

Which Is Better For SEO?

As noted, there is no benefit for SEO purposes. You don’t actually need a subdomain. It’s perfectly fine not to use it and there is zero functional difference for SEO purposes. However, you DO need to pick one version and use it consistently.

Server-Side Redirects

Once a preferred version has been chosen, the other version needs to be 301-redirected at the server level. If it isn’t, it might result in:

  1. Non-preferred URLs returning 404 errors.
  2. The website rendering pages in both variations.

Configuring the server to redirect non-preferred versions to preferred versions ensures that ALL URLs will be redirected automatically.

Configuring Google Search Console

Additionally, it’s recommended to configure Search Console to indicate the preferred version as well. In the top right corner, click the gear icon and select Site Settings. There you’ll see the option to set a preferred version of the URL:

Chris Berkley

Chris is a digital marketing consultant specializing in SEO and Analytics across industries including healthcare, education, finance and others.

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