So much of what the internet does is a mystery. Was it a harmless glitch that made your algorithm send you an advert for nappies despite not having kids, or simply a mystery of the universe? Like most things that require a software developer, the people using the software are often left to grapple with what it all means. YouTubers have spent years understanding the censorship algorithm and what can be monetised and what can’t and TikTok creators have ran with the idea that all topics that aren’t child-friendly should simply be replaced with another random term. A question among digital marketing teams is what the effect the various elements of data analysis have on the SEO. Like the rest of the examples above, the approach has been trial and error. So, for the latest, what is best for SEO: www or non-www.
What Are WWW and Non-WWW?
The simple answer is that a website URL can either contain, or not, the “www” that would stand for World Wide Web. A websites URL is translated into an IP address, which your browser will connect to in order to reach the chosen webpage.
Since the mainstream adoption of the internet, fewer and fewer sites are bothering with the “www” in their domains, going instead for the “naked URL”. This, less face it, was attractive to those of us who don’t want to waste good finger energy on it.
Which Is Better?
There are pros and cons to using either, but ultimately it doesn’t matter from a SEO perspective.
Non-www users should not have the www domain indexed, so that if a user were to add the “www” when trying to access the website, it would automatically redirect them to the non-www version. However, if you have both versions indexed, you could potentially be duplicating your site, which each has its own SEO to be maintained, splitting your traffic. This could potentially harm your search engine rankings.
To avoid this, make sure that you set up 301 redirects to the preferred version of your site. Do not set up 302 redirects, because they don’t transfer PageRank over to the redirected domain or page as well and you will probably lose some link authority and traffic.
Luckily, Google and other search engines will recognise which site you prefer and will spread the link authority accordingly, regardless of a user will type to reach your site.
What Should I Use?
From an SEO point of view, either is fine. However, it is possible that the “www” will soon die out. Most users already don’t bother using them when typing in a website, either being redirected to the site they are looking for anyway, or to a search engine that will offer it as its first option.
Plus, browsers across devices are automatically hiding the “www”, prompting the idea that they could eventually be made redundant.
So, use either, but make sure that not only are all your sitemap URLs and internal links headed towards your preferred version, but your backlinks are consistent too.