Search Marketing

It Really Does Matter: www or non-www

Did you know that www is really just a subdomain? It is. And subdomains actually garner their own authority with search engines!

While www was commonplace throughout the world wide web, nowadays many companies are dropping it on their core site and just listing their address as http://yourdomain.com. That’s fine, but the problem is that most companies start up their site and you can get to the site with or without the www. If visitors can do that, then search engines can… and your optimization may be skewed by it.

The problem lies in authority. As your site becomes popular and press releases point to it, news articles point to it, and blog posts point to it, your domain (or subdomain) grows in popularity. Those links build the authority of your site and, ultimately, your ranking on search engines. Because of this, it’s important that you pick a path and run with it!

Google Webmasters allows you to select which version is the preferred – or canonical path:

Choose wisely and stick with it! Open Site Explorer can provide you with which path has the most authority. You should select the path that has the most authority and redirect the other path to it.

This redirection is fairly simple. If you’re on an Apache server, you can modify your .htaccess file and add a redirect. The 301 designation tells the search engines to also push the authority in that direction:

Redirect www to non-www:


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

Redirect non-www to www:


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

You’ll also want to ensure that your content management system has the domain set properly, as well as any references in your CSS, your robots.txt file, your sitemap, etc. And absolutely make sure that your marketing department publishes any branding, collateral, blog posts, press releases, business cards, etc. point to the preferred path. Read more about selecting a preferred domain at Google Help.

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