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To Have WWW or Not To Have WWW – That is the Question

Over time, I’ve become a fan of the No-WWW Initiative.

What is that, you might ask? It’s a simple proposal for sites to do away with using the WWW-dot-domainname format for URLs, and to instead go with the non-WWW version of domains instead. Managing your site’s main domain/subdomain name is one basic piece of search engine optimization, and this initiative can be a guide for how to decide which domain name will become the dominant one for a site. Read on for more info…


I think there are strong arguments in favor of dropping the “dub-dub-dub” because use of a domain with it is not really necessary. Most sites are set up so that either primary domain name will resolve to the same pages.

http://www.example.com/

http://example.com/

Removal of the WWW can help streamline pagecode which can reduce data transfer and speed up page load times. (Admittedly, the removal of the WWWs only improves data transfer and page load by relatively insignificant amounts in the majority of cases, but such seemingly minor changes could have very large impacts for large-scale sites which deliver millions of pages per day, and the cumulative reduction of data transferred might even result in some tiny reduction in one’s ISP hosting service costs.) And, it is visually cleaner to lose the WWW when citing a company’s URL in print and other marketing collateral where the domain or URL needs to be displayed.

Since the major search engines have been handling both types of URLs relatively consistently, I think it might be useful to use the No-WWW philosophy when you work on canonicalizing your WWW/No-WWW domain names. As you may be aware, many sites have both the WWW and non-WWW versions of their URLs in play simultaneously. For purposes of SEO, one should have one redirect to the other so that you have one primary, or “canonical” version of your main domain, and all your PageRank can be applied to pages delivered on that domain instead of being spread thinner across both versions. But, which version — with WWW, or without WWW — should be your primary? The No-WWW initiative provides a good reason to choose one above the other.

If you’re considering joining this effort, there’s no reason to do this in a costly manner. Your IT support personnel can typically set up redirection with relatively minor effort, so beginning the conversion process to drop the WWWs from all page code and application interfaces doesn’t have to be done in sync. Using 301 redirects will work for SEO and insure that all the legacy URLs will continue to work for users. Then, over time, convert the URLs in your interfaces as that code is touched when working on other projects.

The WWW subdomains are unnecessary and should be deprecated. Join the effort to simplify!

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