One of the first steps to creating a website for your small business is choosing the right domain name. But when considering WWW vs. non-WWW, which format should you use? And which is better for search engine optimization (SEO)?
In today’s internet landscape, you can usually enter a website with or without using a WWW prefix, and still reach the same site. So what is the difference, and how and why were the two different domain styles created?
A company’s domain name does not traditionally refer to its World Wide Web address, but rather, to its overall server. For example, businessname.com would function as a company’s overall domain. Putting a WWW in front of that domain — http://www.businessname.com — would indicate that the files are shared on the web. In contrast, http://ftp.businessname.com would indicate that the files are only shared internally.
Today the term “domain” is often used to refer to your World Wide Web address, and not to your company server. You can choose to use a WWW domain or a non-WWW domain, sometimes referred to as a naked domain.
You don’t have to choose between WWW and non-WWW domain names — you can actually use both. This is a great option if you’re worried about losing customers who type in your web address incorrectly, and cannot find you as a result.
If you’re using both WWW and non-WWW options, you will want to set one as your primary domain. The primary domain is also sometimes called a preferred domain or canonical URL. Your primary domain is the one that all others redirect to. If you don’t set a primary domain, Google will either decide for you, or weigh the pages equally. Setting a primary domain prevents your website from competing against itself, which would affect your SEO.
Beyond WWW vs. non-WWW domains, you might also want to purchase common misspellings of your business name. If you’re building your website using WordPress.com and you already own a domain name purchased through a different provider, don’t worry. You can connect the two using domain mapping.
When deciding between a WWW website and a naked domain, go with your gut and whatever you think customers will remember more easily. If you ultimately purchase both, be sure to set a canonical URL to avoid any potential SEO issues.
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