www Vs. Non-www URLs
When building a website the question often gets brought up, “should you use www URL’s or non-www URL’s?”. Boiling Point Media is here to offer an answer to that question to make it easier for web developers and SEO professionals to make an educated decision with their link building and web development. Even if you already have an existing site, this article will help you avoid costly mistakes that could affect page rank or even worse, your hard-earned traffic.
Differences Between www and Non-www URL’s : :
So you’ve stumbled across this article in search of a clear-cut answer that tells you why you should or shouldn’t use a URL like www.boilingpointmedia.com vs. boilingpointmedia.com. I will tell you that it’s not as clear cut as you might think. Google recognizes them both as the same, so why do they matter? Non-www URL’s/domains are also referred to as Naked URL’s/Naked Domains due to the lack of the www prefix in the URL. SEO professionals should note that www URL’s (www.boilingpointmedia.com) are equal to Naked URL’s (boilingpointmedia.com) in terms of importance and benefits in most cases. Google has mentioned that it is up to the preference of the web developer to choose whether www URL’s or Non-www URL’s are used.
Canonical Domains & Subdomains : :
Cookieless Subdomains : :
One web developer best practice is serving static content from a subdomain, like static.boilingpointmedia.com. Many developers serve images from a static subdomain. One specific case in which www URL’s are beneficial and should be used, is when a website serves static content from a subdomain, like images.static.boilingpointmedia.com. Having that www is beneficial because when naked URL’s (aka naked domains) are used, the naked URL is the canonical domain and it passes all cookies to all subdomains of the naked domain, including images.static.boilingpointmedia.com, which does not use information from cookies. By using www.images.static.boilingpointmedia.com, the subdomain the canonical domain and will not send cookie information to other subdomains.
Style : :
Another factor that many web developers and website owners consider is the aesthetic of the URL. A naked URL is seen as a cleaner, more modern look for web addresses, but can sometimes be overlooked by users. www URL’s are seen as more traditional and clearly define that the user is looking at a website address.
Consistency : :
Consistency is the most important factor to consider when choosing whether to create www URL’s or non-www URL’s as many web developers and SEO’s will mention. If a website is currently built and public, it is encouraged to not switch the URL prefix as this could affect Page Rank as you would have to create redirects, and 10-15% of page rank is lost through a redirect according to Google. The best time to choose the URL prefix is when the website is being built and once the decision is made, it needs to be consistently implemented.
What Does Google See?
So you may be worried about what Google will interpret if a user types in www.boilingpointmedia.com vs boilingpointmedia.com and vice versa. There is no need to worry as Google themselves have said that both www and non-www queries will give the same results and both can be used to recognize and access websites in the same fashion. It all comes down to how much control you want over your domain’s cookies and what you want or don’t want the aesthetic to be for your website URL.
Following The Leaders : :
Many SEO’s and web developers have pointed out that Google, Bing, and Yahoo all still use the www prefix, and use this as reasoning for sticking to using www URL’s. To each their own, but if you are willing to trust search engine giants like Google enough to build your website around their preferences, it makes sense to follow what they are doing regarding URL structure.
THE BOTTOM LINE : :
- If you currently have an operational and publicly indexed website, continue using your current URL structure consistently, and if you really must change your URL structure, please research ways to do proper sitewide 301 redirects.
**Note that you will still lose up to 15% of your Page Rank through those redirects according to google; you have been warned!
- If you are building a website that is serving static content and need a cookieless subdomain, use the www URL prefix.
- If you are building a website that needs to share cookies across all subdomains, use a naked URL.
- If you are building a website and just want to have a streamlined URL, use a naked URL.
- If you are building a website and want to have an easily recognizable web address, use a www URL.
- Andrew, “3 Reasons www URLs Are Better Than Non www URLs For SEO …But Don’t Go Switching Just Yet”, Solid Stratagems, 1 Aug. 2017, www.solidstratagems.com/www-vs-non-www-url/.
- Halasz, Jenny, “www vs. non-www: which is better for SEO?”, Search Engine Journal, 2 Oct. 2018, www.searchenginejournal.com/www-vs-non-www-seo/272043/#close.
- Kinsella, Jack, “WWW Vs. Naked Domain?”, Jack Kinsella, www.jackkinsella.ie/articles/www-vs-naked-domain