Clients have been asking us if they should set up a www.domain.com or a domain.com website. Here is some information you may find useful.
www.yourdomainname.com or yourdomainname.com, which one should you choose? The short answer to this question is: it doesn’t matter. It makes no difference for your site development, SEO, or user experience. Google confirms that it’s only a matter of personal preference. What is very important though is that you stay consistent with your web domain. Once you’re set, you should not change your site URL.
Your full domain name (www.yourbrandname.com or yourbrandname.com) is called your canonical web location. A domain name without www is referred to as a "naked domain".
Once you tell Google your preferred domain name, Google uses this information for all future crawls of your site and indexing refreshes. All your absolute links should use it; this means referring to the chosen domain and always sharing links (by email/social networks, etc.) to the same domain. It will make your website appear more consistent with your users and to search engines.
When you add www in front of a site, it acts as a hostname. This can help your flexibility with DNS, your ability to restrict cookies when using multiple subdomains, and more. The naked domains do not have this advantage. If you expect your website to grow into a very large-scale site, consider adding www to your domain name. If your website receives millions of page views a day, your website host provider will need to make sure it can redirect traffic from a failing server to a healthy server, which is not as easy to do with naked domains.
Which One Should You Pick?
Choosing to add "www" can help you grow your website beyond a single server. On the other hand, smaller businesses probably never need to worry about millions of hits a day. The advantage of a naked website is that is it shorter to type, takes up less space in your marketing print, and makes your brand name stand out.
Some agencies say that switching over to a naked domain has a positive effect on SEO. From experience, we do not think so. Once more, consistency with using your web name and the correct redirect options are far more important than the name itself.
There are ways to set up your website so that it is clear for your users and search engines, which domain is the canonical one, while still allowing the non-canonical domain to provide the expected pages.
Once you've set your preferred domain, you can add a special HTML element to your home to indicate that this is the canonical address of the page. This will have no impact on human readers but will help search engine crawlers find where the page actually lives. This way you will avoid search engine confusion or indexing for the same page several times (which can lead to potential duplicate content considered as spam; thus potentially lowering your page in the search results).
You should use a 301 redirect, to redirect traffic from your preferred to your non-preferred domain. Redirection ensures that visitors will find your site no matter which addresses they type in the URL field. It also ensures that search engines index your canonical URLs properly.
Do you need help with redesigning your website, setting up your redirect options, or creating an interactive campaign? Just say firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you boost your sales and brand recognition.