Making Communications Buzz

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"www" in a website address: Why it matters to website success

"" and "" -- what's the difference? None, right? Put either one in your browser's address window and you go to the same website.

No. Not exactly.

Business owners and others who want to be found on the Web should be aware that although and take you to the same website, and are, strictly speaking, different domains.

Strange as this may sound, here is why it matters to web marketing & website success. The two domains can have different rankings in a search engine like Google. Not only that, one can actually detract from the rank of the other.

How? Because when another website links to yours, it will either use or in the link URL (the web address).

Incoming links are a critical part, some would say the most critical part, of a web page's ranking in Google.

So, if half of the sites that link to yours use "www." and half do not, the positive effect on your site's ranking will be divided between the two domains.

Put another way, if all of the sites that link to your website use "www." in the link URL ( instead of, say), then all of the positive effect on your site's ranking will be assigned to and its subpages.

There are several ways to make sure that visitors to your site all go to the same domain. You can start by making sure that you, or whoever works on your website, is consistent in creating URLs for the site. That way you ensure, at least to a significant degree, that incoming links to your site will all have the same form.

There are also some technical solutions you can use to change non-www. addresses into www. addresses on your website's host server. These are slightly complicated, "don't-try-this-at-home" kinds of things that I will write more about in the future. In the meantime, contact me through the McBuzz Communications Web site and I will help you with those. No purchase necessary.

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  • For those of you interested in modifying the .htaccess file yourself, here is the code.

    # If an address without the "www." prefix is entered, this will redirect to the page with the "www." prefix.
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.%{HTTP_HOST}/$1 [R=301,L]

    And a good resource:

    By Blogger Mark McLaren, at 6:08 PM  

  • I had underestimated the impact of the www Mark, thanks for sharing your research with us. I am going with the www! :)


    By Anonymous Avinash Kaushik, at 1:01 AM  

  • Thank you for the feedback, Avinash! And thanks for reading.

    By Blogger Mark McLaren, at 1:29 AM  

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