Last updated on: November 15, 2023 at 1:00 pm

Why Choosing Between WWW and Non-WWW Domain Names Still Matters in 2023

  • by
  • Published Date:
  • 5 min read
  • SEO
WWW and Non-WWW

If you thought that the prefix “www” before a domain name was merely an ornamental touch left over from the internet’s early days, it’s time for a reality check.

Modern web browsers like Google Chrome and Safari may quietly omit this seemingly antiquated trio of letters, but your decision to use or forgo “www” has deeper implications than you’d expect. From impacting your website’s SEO to affecting branding and user experience, this minor detail is more significant than it appears.

In this guide, we will provide an exhaustive look at why choosing between “www” and “non-www” remains a pivotal point and help you navigate this decision with the information you need.

Why the “WWW” Versus “Non-WWW” Decision Matters in SEO: A Crucial Fork in Your Ranking Road

Let’s kick things off by dispelling a widespread myth: Contrary to popular belief, neither Google nor any other search engine has a native preference for “www” over “non-www” URLs, or vice versa. But while search engines might not display favoritism, they certainly do care about clarity and uniformity.

Search engines see the “www” and “non-www” versions of your site as separate entities. In the absence of clear directives from your end, a myriad of complications can arise:

  • Duplicate Content Dilemma: Search engines prioritize unique and valuable content. If both “www” and “non-www” versions of your site contain identical material, you’re unintentionally creating a duplicate content issue. This scenario confuses search engines, causing them to waver on which version of your site deserves higher ranking.
  • Inefficient Web Crawling: Search engines allocate a specific budget for crawling sites. If both versions of your website are active, you’re effectively forcing search engines to allocate twice the effort, which can result in some of your crucial pages remaining unindexed.
  • Diluted Backlink Juice: Backlinks play a vital role in determining your website’s search engine rankings. If your site accrues backlinks across both versions, the value of these links is split, thereby diluting your website’s SEO impact.

Redirect vs Canonical Tag: Signposting the Search Engines

Once you’ve grasped the SEO-related risks of not specifying a preferred domain version, the next logical step is to guide search engines appropriately. There are two primary ways to do this: the 301 redirect and the canonical tag.

The 301 Redirect: The Surefire Strategy

A 301 redirect is a permanent, unequivocal directive that automatically guides users and search engines alike to your chosen domain version.

Implementing a 301 redirect typically involves editing your website’s .htaccess file—an operation further simplified by many contemporary content management systems.

The chief benefit of using a 301 redirect is its decisiveness: you’re consolidating all your SEO gains, such as backlink value, to one preferred version of your site.

Canonical Tags: The Gentle Nudge

Alternatively, you can employ canonical tags. Unlike a 301 redirect, a canonical tag doesn’t physically send users to a particular version of the page; rather, it signals to search engines which version should be considered authoritative.

While implementing canonical tags may be less complex, it leaves some room for interpretation. Search engines view these tags as advisory rather than obligatory, creating a potential margin of error.

WWW vs Non-WWW: The Pros, The Cons, and The Whys

Before cementing your decision, let’s examine what each option brings to the table in terms of benefits and constraints.

Advantages of Using WWW

  • Robust Traffic Management: Larger websites handling a considerable volume of traffic often find the “www” prefix beneficial for efficiently distributing server load and managing DNS settings.
  • Cookie Control: Opting for “www” allows you to specify cookies to particular subdomains, which is particularly handy for large-scale websites operating across various subdomains.

Advantages of Using Non-WWW

  • Streamlined Branding: For smaller businesses or personal blogs, a non-www URL offers a cleaner, more memorable web address.
  • Ease of Configuration: Choosing to forgo “www” often means fewer setup steps, thus streamlining the process for those who may not be as technically inclined.

Staying Vigilant: Monitoring Your Choice Over Time

Once you’ve made your choice and implemented either 301 redirects or canonical tags, it’s not a “set it and forget it” affair. Continual monitoring is essential for ensuring that your setup functions as intended over time.

Tools for Tracking Your Setup

There are various tools available, such as Semrush or Ahref Website Audit, to help you stay on top of your website’s health. These platforms scrutinize your website for SEO effectiveness, detect any duplication issues, and ensure that your choice between “www” and “non-www” hasn’t unintentionally led to any ranking or crawling problems.

Conclusion: The Decision That’s More Than Just Cosmetic

Selecting between “www” and “non-www” is not merely a question of aesthetics or outdated conventions. It’s analogous to choosing the right oil for your car’s engine; no, the wrong choice won’t lead to catastrophic failure, but it could affect performance over the long haul.

In the context of SEO, it’s essential that you don’t leave this choice to chance. Opt for “www” if your website demands robust traffic management and precise cookie control. Alternatively, go for “non-www” if you value simplified branding and easier setup. Regardless of your choice, ensure that you utilize either 301 redirects or canonical tags to convey your preference to search engines clearly.

This isn’t just a trivial decision; it’s an integral part of laying a robust foundation for your website’s future performance and success. By considering these multiple angles, you’re not merely making a choice—you’re investing in the long-term efficacy of your online presence.


jay kang

An entrepreneur and SEO expert, is the driving force behind innovative platforms like, and more. Committed to empowering marketers, Jay continues to make a positive impact in the digital marketing space.

Leave a Reply

© Copyright 2023. A Product by  SEO RANK SERP LLC | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Return Policy

Other products we’ve made:  SEO RANK SERP Affiliate WordPress Theme | Product Review Tools | Page Optimized (Coming Soon) | PolicyPal (Coming Soon)  | Oracle Desk (Coming Soon) and MORE COMING!

2055 Limestone Rd STE 200-C Wilmington, DE 19808 United States