More To WWW or not to WWW that is the duplicate content question!

See my first post on the subject here: http://www.craigharris.org/2011/03/18/to-www-or-not-to-www-that-is-the-duplicate-content-question/ about the importance of using only one URL for web content to avoid duplicate content and resulting penalization in search results.

Which URL do you choose? WWW ie: http://www.craigharris.org or non-WWW ie: http://craigharris.org? There is a lot on the web about the Canonical URLs but there is very little info about which version you should use other than it doesn’t make any difference to search rankings. Jump to the end of this article if you want the quick and easy answer.

A little background. Today most everyone thinks that the Internet and the World Wide Web are one and the same and that everything on the Internet exists on websites. While it sometimes may seem that way it just isn’t true. The Internet is a network for connecting may types of services. Each service is typically accessed by a sub-domain: www, ftp, gopher, news, mail, archie, veronica, WAIS, irc, etc. Today the World Wide Web (WWW) dominates the Internet. While many of the old services such as Gopher and Archie have been absorbed into the WWW and have disappeared others such as mail and new remain and are likely to for stay with us for some time. I use mail.craigharris.org to access my email.

When I had to make the choice for my websites I went back and forth between the two. WWW has been the standard but non-WWW looks better and is easier to type for us lazy people. Ultimately I looked at my sites and found that the majority of the links used were in the WWW format so that is what I went with. But what if you have a shiny new domain name with no existing links? Which do you choose?

I decided to see what the big boys were using. I made a list of the 25 biggest sites I could think of took a look to see if I was directed to a WWW URL a non-WWW URL or if both versions worked. Here is a chart of what I found:

URL Choice of 25 Popular Websites
WWW non-WWW Both WWW and non-WWW
www.Google.com
www.Bing.com
www.Yahoo.com
www.Newegg.com
www.Ask.com
www.DMOZ.org
www.Facebook.com
www.YouTube.com
www.Wikipedia.org
www.MSN.com
www.Adobe.com
www.Microsoft.com
www.Amazon.com
www.Apple.com
www.Ebay.com
www.About.com
www.Paypal.com
www.MySpace.com
www.cnet.com
www.AOL.com
www.CNN.com
www.Priceline.com
twitter.com
WordPress.com
Photobucket.com
(none)

You can click on these links and try them with both a www. and with out to see how the redirection works.

The overwhelming majority of large websites redirect all requests to the WWW version of their site. This alone should show you what the accepted standard is. None of the sites I polled allowed the use of both WWW and non-WWW. This should tell you just how important it is to choose one and redirect all your traffic to it. Most of these sites use the correct 301 redirect but some such as Newegg use a 302 redirect. I’d really like to know why?

The short quick answer is to use: WWW or not if you like.

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