BrightHaus Digital Marketing Agency

How to Determine Which Website version to use: WWW or non-WWW

October 16, 2012

Okay folks, we’re about to get a little technical here, so hold on tight…

Many websites have two different versions:  www and a non-www.  So how do you determine which one to keep and which one to 301-redirect?  When we have both of these versions present, it could cause issues with your overall website rankings.  In essence, you are carrying two websites with duplicate content, a big no no in the land of Google.

The preferred domain is the one that you would liked used to index your site’s pages (sometimes this is referred to as the canonical domain). Links may point to your site using both the www and non-www versions of the URL (for instance, and The preferred domain is the version that you want used for your site in the search results.

If you are looking to re-direct one version to the other, you have to ask yourself, which one is getting more hits and which one has more backlinks?  It should be obvious, but the one with the most backlinks is the better (we’re assuming here that those backlinks are of good quality of course).  For example:  if is coming up with 3,000 backlinks while is coming up with 4,000 backlinks, it would be wise to canonicalize the websites to the non-www version.

The other thing to consider? Which site is already being recognized through Google?   The best way to do this is to simply run a search under your business name.

Once you have figured out which version to use, you’re going to want to enter a code into your .htaccess file to either redirect the www version to the non-www version, or vice versa.  A .htaccess file is a directory file that allows the management of web server configuration.  One of the benefits of these files – it’s read everyday so any changes that are made are immediate.  Your web programmer should be able to help you get your site from a www to a non-www site or vice versa.

Of course, we can do that for you too.