The Great Debate: Does “WWW” Really Make a Difference?

Picture this: A website we had spent months working on has just gone live. We’re scanning through for any glitches and visual issues to make sure everything was working properly. While communicating with our client about design and user interface, we were asked this question: Does it make a difference if “www” is displayed in the URL? Does it effect SEO in any way?”

So we asked ourselves, does it?

While there are technical differences between the two, neither of them affect SEO, but rather how visitors access your website. When you add “www.” in front of a URL, it acts as a hostname and can help with DNS flexibility and cookie restrictions when using different subdomains. For example, let’s say you have a subdomain for static content on your website. When using “www.”, your site’s cookies won’t be sent to the subdomain with static content. However, if you are not using www, then the cookies are sent to all subdomains, which can slow down access to static content and eventually cause caching problems on your website. On a smaller scale this may not seem like much, but if your website grows to receive millions or more visitors per day, then it’s best to have “www.” so your site is more accessible across all types of domains and clouds.

While it does not make a difference from an SEO perspective, having a website that loads and redirects quickly helps keeps visitors on for longer to decrease bounce rates and increase session times.

Convinced that you should change your URL to have www.? Here’s the most important thing: don’t change your site URL to add or remove it. You can simply let Google know by going to your site’s settings in Google Webmaster Tools. From there, you choose your preferred domain. If you’re using WordPress, the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin will automatically set a canonical URL in your site header to make Google aware of your personal preference.

For a more in-depth reasoning of why or why not to use it, click here.

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