To www, or not to www, that is the SEO question


Image from SXC.hu

I was recently asked, does it matter if I don’t use www and are there any benefits from a search engine optimisation point-of-view?

To be completely honest, I would say no, but there are a few things to consider when choosing to have the www vs. non-www.

1) Redirects

To set non-www to redirect to www, you should apply the following code to your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

This will then force ‘example.com’ to go to ‘www.example.com’. Doing this will tell Google what is important and what to display in search results. You can also define this in Webmaster Tools.

You can read more about redirects in this post by SEOmoz.

2) Internal Linking

Google wrote about Webmaster tools and they mentioned www and non-www internal and external links within the post. Whilst there view is they are treated the same, I’d say you could loose some internal link juice. So define what you are going to do and stick to it throughout the site.

3) Canonical Tag

If you are having problems with both of the above or non-www and www pages ranking, you might want to consider using the canonical tag, below is an example:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com”/>

As you can see, you can tell Google this is the primary page and other variations should be ignored. Below are some video around this:

4) URL Length

If you have a fairly long domain name, and I would categorise long domains as 10 characters or more, you might want to consider dropping the www’s – this is purely a vanity exercise.

and finally…

My take would be not too worry to much and concentrate on things that really matter like content and your social presence.

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