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To www or not www the domain*com
Twitter got me thinking
walkman




msg:4049137
 4:33 am on Dec 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

so is it www.webmasterworld.com or webmasterworld.com?

Twitter and the short-link focus has got me thinking. My domain is about as long as WebmasterWorld so I don't know. Google rankings and possibility of change is another factor but that aside, what do you think, www or just domain*com?

 

surrealillusions




msg:4049398
 9:42 pm on Dec 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

I dont really have a preference, but as long as both work. Either the www redirects the non-www or vica versa, then its fine.

I suppose people are more familiar with the 'www' bit on web addresses so I tend to side with that. But whatever you choose, make sure both work and that one only ends up in the users address bar which ever they type.

I believe Google also see's (or at least used to) 2 different sites in the www and non-www, so its best to prevent any duplication penalties that may be imposed. However, this info may be out of date given that Google have said duplication is not a huge factor in the rankings..but I may be wrong or misheard what Google said.

:)

MichaelBluejay




msg:4049738
 10:58 pm on Dec 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think WWW is an annoyance and serves no purpose, so I've been using .htaccess code to remove the WWW for about ten years now.

Of course, half the people who link to me put the WWW in their link anyway, even though they never saw it on my site.

If your site accepts both, I think Google is likely smart enough to know that a WWW and non-WWW page is the same page. I mean, if Google is smart enough to search a gazillion pages in 0.16 seconds, I think they're smart enough to understand www/no www! But if you install code to either force the WWW or remove the WWW, then it's not an issue, because then the SE's will always see your site one way, no matter how people link to it.

Swanny007




msg:4049742
 11:27 pm on Dec 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Personally I prefer the www being there and non-www users being redirected (301). However whenever I have the domain name listed on the site (in a logo for example) there is no www.

jdMorgan




msg:4049762
 1:22 am on Dec 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

> Google is likely smart enough to know that a WWW and non-WWW page is the same page.

Google is likely smart enough to know that example.com/ and www.example.com/ are two different URLs, and therefore *are not* necessarily the same page. Like most other major search engines, Google does run a back-end de-duplication routine --occasionally buggy-- if and when they get the time to do so. I prefer not to depend on their 'kindness' to do this, though.

"www" is a subdomain, just like any other subdomain. So it might be "www" or "search" or whatever. But in no case is any subdomain necessarily the same thing as the main domain or any other subdomain. Search engines' basic unit of identity is the URL, not the 'page' and certainly not the 'file.' If so much as one character is different, then two strings do not represent the same URL. The content returned for requests for those two URLs then might be the same, or it might not.

The main advantage of non-www is brevity -- possibly important if you get a lot of type-in mobile traffic. And using non-www may save you several bytes per page load if you use canonical URLs in links on your pages.

The main advantage of "www" is that it serves as a visual and auditory "heads up" that a Web address immediately follows in print, radio, and TV advertising. You'll also notice that many people think that *all* Web site URLs start with "www" -- as in the occasional "www.whatever-I-am-searching-for-here.com" referrerals you may get from search engines and DNS-failure search 'services'.

If you've got a major/recognizable brand, the leading "www" isn't so important. But if you're not yet famous and you're competing for revenue with others in your space using print and media ads, then that "www" may be important.

Also, if you might 'make it really big' some day, it's somewhat easier to add server load balancing if you've left the root domain free.

Pick www or non-www as you see fit, and then 301-redirect the non-preferred 'flavor' to the one you prefer.

Jim

walkman




msg:4049828
 7:56 am on Dec 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Good points to all. I have the www and 301 redirect which with jdMorgan's help on Apache forums was made bullet proof so maybe I'll use a domain/url for twitter etc and that will send it right over the www.domain/url. For now people expect the www IMO, the address seems naked even to me an avid web user without the www...

Das Capitolin




msg:4050928
 6:07 pm on Dec 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google Webmaster Tools has a feature for deciding on www or non-canonical, and you'd be a fool to think Google will do all of your work for you. JD was dead on with advice, and I would add that using www of not is a decision based on your visitors.

For example, tech-savvy people know you don't need www for 99.99% of the websites out there. When they enter an address in their browser, it is usually without www. This means that a tech-focused website could get away without the subdomain www. On the other hand, if you're running a cookbook site, it might make users feel more confortable with the www in the address.

Either way, a 301 can fix your decision.

johnnie




msg:4051096
 1:02 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

I for one support the 'www'. A domain is more than just a website; it can have dedicated mail servers, ftp, www, workstations and whatnot. The 'www' is a specific designation pointing your users to the web server in your domain. Much like the 'mail', 'pop' and 'smtp' subdomains are used for e-mail and the 'ftp' subdomain is used for accessing your files. And even if all these services are hosted on one IP address; when was the last time you FTP'd to mail.example.com?

Whilst 'www' may not be the most keyword-dense way of doing things, it certainly is the most user-friendly.

Robert Charlton




msg:4051117
 1:51 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

I strongly favor the www, not only for the comfort level, but also because of the implementation of hypertext links in a lot of software.

Many text editors, email clients, and word processors will generate hypertext links if you've used the www (as in www.example.com), but will not link out if you've typed example.com.

Also, verbally, if you're talking instead of typing, you could say "http - colon - double-slash", but most non-technical people will get that wrong, whereas they're familiar enough with "www" to get it right, and even put in the dot unprompted. ;)

KenB




msg:4051141
 2:17 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

WWW. is an obsolete and unnecessary piece of detritus. It should have never existed in the first place. Do you need somename@mail.example.com when you send an email? Why should you need http://www.example.com to access a website? the HTTP protocol makes the intention pretty obvious.

I personally 301 redirect www. requests to my sites to the sans-www. version of the domain and have been doing so for years.

This makes me think, I wonder how many terabytes of data transfer could be saved across the entire Internet each year if everyone stopped using www.? ;)

phranque




msg:4051149
 2:32 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

A domain is more than just a website; it can have dedicated mail servers, ftp, www, workstations and whatnot. The 'www' is a specific designation pointing your users to the web server in your domain.

the part of the url that specifically points a user to your web server is the schema which is http: (or https: for secure servers).
this schema is provided by default for web (enabled) clients.
there is nothing preventing you from having a web-based subdomain such as [ftp.example.com...] which is completely distinct from a ftp server address such as ftp://example.com/.

Many text editors, email clients, and word processors will generate hypertext links if you've used the www (as in www.example.com), but will not link out if you've typed example.com.

sometimes a domain name is just a domain name and you don't want it linked so i see this as detrimental behavior.
if you really want it linked by such clients you should provide a fully qualified url such as http://example.com/ which these clients will typically respect as a url.

Also, verbally, if you're talking instead of typing, you could say "http - colon - double-slash", but most non-technical people will get that wrong, whereas they're familiar enough with "www" to get it right, and even put in the dot unprompted.

other than a very few specific cases such as the load balancing requirement jdMorgan described, i see the "www." as a 10-syllable speed bump and 4 characters of waste/noise/redundancy.

johnnie




msg:4051154
 2:40 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)


the part of the url that specifically points a user to your web server is the schema which is http: (or https: for secure servers).
this schema is provided by default for web (enabled) clients.
there is nothing preventing you from having a web-based subdomain such as [ftp.example.com...] which is completely distinct from a ftp server address such as ftp://example.com/.
I understand that you can add or edit subdomains at your discretion, but the 'www' has become more or less convention in reference to a web server. It tells the user he or she is visiting a web server. Much like the 'mail' subdomain is often used to inform the user he or she is making use of a pop/smtp server. If we don't take the user into consideration when naming our (sub-)domains, we might as well revert to using bare IP addresses.

The schema part in a URI is there to tell your client software which 'language' to speak. It is my understanding that it refers to a service, not a server.

pageoneresults




msg:4051166
 3:11 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

All new sites launching without www. I made the decision, I'm sticking to it. I've watched enough folks type domains into the address bar, search box, etc. to know that the www. is not needed. Watch a mobile user. ;)

No More WWW
I'm through with it and good riddance!
2008-01-06 - [WebmasterWorld.com...]

These types of topics always seem to appear at about the same time of the year. :)

AZEvil




msg:4051174
 3:20 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

What people in this industry tend to forget is that the average joe may recognize a website in print more easily with the www, so that has to be taken into consideration. I know several people who say the www when giving someone the address of something because they feel like it's more obvious that it's for a website. It's just normal for them and to try and change that may be counter productive. I know...everyone has an opinion, and I agree with the fact that technically, it's not really necessary, but too many people think that just because they're technical, their opinion is what matters for the consumer. Feel free to do it without the www, but consider your audience first or you may end up hurting your branding.

graywolf




msg:4051189
 3:47 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

>the average joe may recognize a website in print more easily with the www

I think the .com, .net, .org, or even .mobi acts as enough of a clue that it's a website for the overwhelming majority.

phranque




msg:4051251
 7:28 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

It tells the user he or she is visiting a web server.

clicking on a http link in a web client tells the user it's a web address.

Much like the 'mail' subdomain is often used to inform the user he or she is making use of a pop/smtp server.

as KenB pointed out, when was the last time you emailed somename@mail.example.com?
pop3 figures that out for you.

Feel free to do it without the www, but consider your audience first or you may end up hurting your branding.

your branding is in the domain.
if your branding is so tied to the "www." then you have nothing to distinguish you from millions of other domains.

the "dot" between the domain and the cctld tells 99% of all users and readers that it is a domain name and the context (protocol) tells you when it is a web site.
it's almost 2010 now - the www is obsolete.
it's like "trolley tracks" laid across the "information superhighway".
useless for protocol, abysmal for vox, marginal for print, ignored for mobile web ...

wildbest




msg:4051299
 10:02 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

A domain is more than just a website; it can have dedicated mail servers, ftp, www, workstations and whatnot. The 'www' is a specific designation pointing your users to the web server in your domain.

I'm using 'www' and fully agree with said above. A domain is more than just a website... I'm using and I'll continue to use my domain for different services including hosting my website. And the address where my World Wide Web site is hosted is www.example.com!

when was the last time you emailed somename@mail.example.com

May be it's time for a change? May be we should already think about emailing at somename.mail.example.com!?

phranque




msg:4051313
 10:37 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

just to be clear, i wouldn't suggest that www.example.com is categorically wrong and in some cases might even counsel against retroactively changing an existing site.
however, i would strongly suggest or insist that new sites go www-less with extremely rare exceptions.
either way you go, you must canonicalize your domain so that it doesn't matter which is typed, linked, read or spoken.
301 to your preferred (sub)domain.

regarding email addresses:
perhaps you weren't serious, but you might want to read these and figure out how your suggestion would handle all the use cases supported by the current standards and protocols:
[tools.ietf.org...]
[tools.ietf.org...]

wildbest




msg:4051329
 11:00 am on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

in some cases might even counsel against retroactively changing an existing site

In some cases some people prefer to use hammer instead of a stone... The stone, however, is a universal tool and is much more available as a resource in nature. Certainly, using a stone requires much more skills and develops creativity and ingenuity of the individual that is using this tool. But instead of a stone I'd personally prefer to use a hammer, and different sizes shapes and structures of hammers depending on the task to be solved, of course!

regarding email addresses:
perhaps you weren't serious, but you might want to read these and figure out how your suggestion would handle all the use cases supported by the current standards and protocols:
[tools.ietf.org...]
[tools.ietf.org...]

Well, I guess you weren't serious? :)

KenB




msg:4051365
 1:19 pm on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

The really bad thing about www. and why it should be relegated to the dust bin of history is that users often times think that it should be appended to the beginning of all web addresses. Just the other day I had an engineer complaining that he couldn't use his BlackBerry to access a web application I have been building for a project he is working on. I knew darn well that there was no technical reason why he couldn't access the site so I asked him to show me what he did. What I discovered was that he was appending www. to the subdomain the app was on (e.g. www.subdomain.example.com), which was totally wrong. He should have only been using subdomain.example.com. Actually he should have been using subdomain.example.org but that is a different matter.

The point is there are times when www. must not be used to access a website but there should NEVER be a time when the www. can't be left off and the user just use example.com instead.

We really need to get away from www. for the very reason that users don't understand it isn't necessary and that there are times that is must not be used. The best way to teach users that www. isn't needed or to get them to forget about it is to 301 redirect our sites from the www. to the non-www. version of the domain. In time users will begin to forget about www. or realize it isn't needed. Using and promoting www. just reinforces a misunderstanding about how the web works.

The only valid argument I have seen above for using www. is on legacy websites that were canonicalized to the www. version for a very long time. Even at that, properly canonicalizing the webaddress using 301 redirects to go to the non-www. version of the domain and telling the various search engines via their webmaster control panels to use the non-www. version should mitigate the SERP hit from making the change.

pageoneresults




msg:4051396
 2:49 pm on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've made it a habit over the years to observe people while they are browsing the web. I do quite a few GoToMeetings and am able to see browsing habits through that medium. I really don't remember the last time I've seen anyone type the www. when entering a web address. Many people still use the search box as their address bar, scary thought huh?

In that 2008 topic I reference earlier, I was convinced that maybe my choice to strip the www was an incorrect one. Well, I ended up flipping again and chose to go without it. I've not looked back since. URI brevity is very important these days and in all fairness, it has been since the dawn of the Internet. Removing those 4 characters allows for a bit more breathing room in the overall scheme of intuitive URIs.

Want to really see an eye opener? Watch folks use the mobile web. They don't know what www is. :)

KenB




msg:4051418
 3:11 pm on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

Want to really see an eye opener? Watch folks use the mobile web. They don't know what www is. :)

Well maybe except for the engineer in my example who was putting www. in front of a subdomain (e.g. www.subdomain.example.com) ;)

wildbest




msg:4051501
 5:03 pm on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

We really need to get away from www.

What for? The only valid argument I have seen above for not using www is brevity. In general, brevity is important when resources are scarce. It was very important in the beginning when using the World Wide Web was a luxury and traffic thru dial up connections was very expensive. Now we are past this starting point. Now order and clarity on the Web are much more important than brevity! Marking a part of your domain with www means you designate this part to be accessed and used by general public.

Common people have common sense. That is why they use www!

Watch folks use the mobile web. They don't know what www is. :)

Mobile devices are primitive, resources are scarce, traffic expensive... like what I said above. But that will change in near future!

We are very close to the point when every-word-can-be-domain without .com, .net, .org, etc. When this becomes a reality you'll see how important is the 'www' label for marking a World Wide Web resource!

pageoneresults




msg:4051543
 5:48 pm on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

so is it www.webmasterworld.com or webmasterworld.com?

My preference?

WebmasterWorld.com

Don't forget proper casing in the domain (PascalCasing). How many times have you had to look at a domain to read the words? Not to mention all the domain bloopers we've seen over the years due to concatenation. :)

bwnbwn




msg:4051653
 9:15 pm on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

www non www is either or. Those that want it 301 the non www those that don't want it 301 the www to the non www case closed.

I like it www but type in a domain name with out the www matter of fact I type the domain name without the http: so do we forget it as well?

pinterface




msg:4051806
 1:48 am on Dec 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

I prefer to lobby for a "WX" DNS record to parallel the MX record which gets used for mail servers. That solves all problems! ;) When I'm feeling more practical, and it's up to me, I use "web" instead of "www". Much easier to pronounce.

But really, short of a study of user behavior when provided with different domain names showing significant differences in user experience, it's an argument about the color of bikesheds. Flip a coin to pick the canonical one, make the other redirect there, and move on.

g1smd




msg:4051945
 8:36 am on Dec 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you use
www then the two searches site:www.example.com and site:example.com -inurl:www very quickly show if you have Duplicate Content issues with subdomains other than www being listed.

Make sure the non-www always 301 redirects to the www instead of not resolving at all.

httpwebwitch




msg:4051951
 8:42 am on Dec 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm still forcing www on my sites. I guess it's just a canonicalization habit I'm not inclined to let go of. I know there are compelling arguments either way, but I really don't think it matters.

I also like coffee with a little cream and no sugar, and I dip grilled cheese sandwiches in ketchup. FYI.

nickreynolds




msg:4051980
 10:46 am on Dec 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

>I really don't remember the last time I've seen anyone type the www. when entering a web address.<

I see a lot of people doing that. They think www.example.com is the web address so they type it.

I don't see a lot of capitalizing in web addresses - I think people are suspicious that it might not work.
NewWidgets.com is clearer than newwidgets.com - I guss some people might think they're two different domains!

pageoneresults




msg:4051988
 11:06 am on Dec 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Out with the old.

www.webmasterworld.com

In with the new.

WebmasterWorld.com

I'm looking at a site now that we relaunched with non www and short URI constructs. Thousands of pages, not a single URI is truncating in the SERPs, not even close. Talk about clean.

So tell me, does everyone still say dub-dub-dub when giving out web addresses verbally? Come on now, fess up! ;)

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