Should I Use the www. or non-www. Version of my Website?
You can choose to display your website with the ‘www.’ or without. If you’re thinking about how this might affect your performance in search engines then there’s good news! It doesn’t make much difference to search engines so the choice is yours!
The important thing to consider when it comes to SEO is that you only want one version of your website. If both versions exists and both are used, then you could be diluting the authority of every page on your website and your domain as a whole by half.
What Is a www. and non-www. Version of my Website?
It’s as simple as it sounds. The www. version includes the www. at the beginning:
And the non-www. version does not:
Each of these are technically different pages (even if they look the same).
Which One is Better for SEO?
Though neither is better than the other in terms of SEO, you should make a choice and stick to it.
It is also worth thinking about the impact it could have for you later down the line. For example, if you choose the non-www. version, it could cause some issues later if you wanted to set different cookie settings for other subdomains as some will automatically apply to all subdomains if they apply to the non-www. version of your website.
If you choose to go with the ‘www.’ version, you should redirect any ‘non-www.’ versions of your pages to the ‘www.’ version.
If you allow the ‘www.’ version and the ‘non-www.’ version of your website to co-exist, this leaves you with what are effectively two duplicate websites.
Search engines understand the individual pages of your website and assign trust and authority to each of these. If you have two pages for every page of your website, you would be sharing the trust and authority assigned between two, rather than consolidating it all into the one version of each page.
Now do I know if I have a non-www. to www. redirect in place?
You can easily check whether you have a redirect like this in place by typing your web address into your browser.
Here, I’ve typed in ‘bbc.co.uk’
When I press ‘Enter’, the ‘bbc.co.uk’ I’ve typed in is redirected to ‘www.bbc.co.uk’
This means that the BBC has a non-www. to www. redirect in place.
If I type in ‘www.twitter.com’, however:
I am redirected to a non-www. version.
This means that Twitter has a www. to non-www. redirect in place (the opposite way to the BBC).
Either of the above is absolutely fine.
You can also check the http status of any page on your website with this http status code checker. It’ll tell you type of redirect (you want a 301, if there is one).
The real problem is when the URL does not change in either case. If you typed in ‘www.bbc.co.uk’ and that loaded and stayed as ‘www.’ and then you typed ‘bbc.co.uk’ into your address bar and it loaded and stayed as ‘non-www.’, then you have a problem. If both versions seem to work, then it’s likely that you have a problem.
If you notice a mixture between www. And non-www. Versions of your website in the Google search results then you really do have a problem.
How Can I Redirect one version to the other?
You’re best off with a site-wide fix, that will automatically redirect any page on your website to your preferred version (which ever way around that is).
This is something that your web developer can help you with or, if you’re going it alone, this blog from stackoverflow gives you ways to set the site-wide redirect through your .htaccess file.