Have you ever wondered about the difference between a www website and a non-www website with the same TLD (Tertiary level domain) and (Secondary level domain) SLD? As you might have noticed, both of them direct you to the same website. If then, is there any real difference between the two? In fact, there is no difference between www and non-www websites as a user is concerned, but search engines treat them as a duplicate copy of the website.
Here is a detailed analysis of the technical difference between the two URLs, the pros and cons of one over the other, and how you can gain an upper hand in SEO with the right domain URL. This would benefit you a great deal, especially f you are planning to launch a new website.Technical Differences between www and non-www
During the early years of the internet, website URLs began with www, which was just another sub-domain. Over time, people started typing website names without the www when they searched for a website online, as an easy approach. From a practical viewpoint, there is no difference between a www and a non-www URL, though technically there is a slight difference between the two.
Website names are handled by the Domain Name System (DNS) and the www name and non-www name are, in fact, considered as two different sites. For example, Google recognizes www.abc.com and abc.com as two different websites. This can cause issues of content duplication and make your website rank lower on search engines. In such cases, Google prioritizes one website, mostly the one with www, but the user will get the same result while clicking both links.
If you want to solve this issue, you can redirect one URL to the other (canonical domain) with the help of Google Webmaster Tools. A canonical domain is the one you select to use as your official domain from the perspective of search engines. Choosing one format and sticking to it creates a more consistent and authoritative image about your website, for search engines as well as for users.Pros and Cons of www
There are certain advantages and disadvantages of using www.Pros
- A www URL gives you more control over cookies for your specific subdomain. For example, if you have a www.abc.com domain for which you set cookies, those cookies will pass down to all the subdomains like x.www.abc.com and y.www.abc.com.
- As search engines consider www as more authentic than the other, it is better to follow it to get a higher rank on the search page.
- Another advantage of using www is that www subdomains are more flexible when it comes to DNS. This helps you to use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) in a much better way.
Pros and Cons of non-www
- It is more difficult for users to type while searching for your website. People always prefer easier versions.
- There are chances of it becoming obsolete in the future as users prefer the shorter version.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of non-www URLs.Pros
- Non-www URL is easier to recollect and simpler to type and search for, which increases chances for more traffic.
- It might become more prominent in the future, if more people prefer it over typing www.
- If you don’t need to restrict your cookies, then you can opt for a non-www URL.
Which is better?
- There is no option to restrict cookies just to the root domain in case of non-www URLs.
- With non-www domains, you can’t redirect traffic from one server to another. This functionality is useful when one server gets overloaded, and you need to redirect traffic to a healthy server.
To conclude, www domains do have certain inherent advantages over non-www domains. But these benefits mostly apply in the case of large websites that have multiple subdomains and servers. In the case of a small website, the most important benefit www offers is by supporting search engine optimization.