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Beyond WWW: Websites without the ‘www’ Prefix

Prefix 'www' on a block with reading glass


In the ever-evolving digital landscape, it’s essential to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to new trends. One such trend is websites ditching the traditional “www” prefix in their domain names.

But what does this mean for website owners, and how does it impact user experience and search engine optimization (SEO)? In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the world of non-www domains – exploring their origins, benefits, potential drawbacks, and everything you need to know to make an informed decision about your own site’s address.

Key Takeaways

  • The ‘www’ prefix in website domain names is no longer mandatory, and many popular websites have dropped it for a cleaner and more concise URL.
  • Choosing to omit the ‘www’ prefix can benefit the branding and user experience of your website by creating consistency across online platforms. However, potential issues with cookies and traffic handling require proper implementation.
  • Consistency is crucial when choosing between ‘www’ or non-domains for SEO purposes. Server-side redirects or canonical tags are useful tools for indicating a preferred site version and avoiding duplicate content issues. Ultimately, the decision on whether to include “www” or exclude it should be based on what works best for your website goals and audience preferences.

Understanding The ‘www’ Prefix

Prefix 'www' with reading glass graphics

The ‘www’ prefix is a common part of website domain names and was originally used to distinguish between different services on the same server, but it has since become more of a convention than a necessity.

History And Purpose Of ‘www’

The ‘www’ prefix, short for World Wide Web, traces its origins back to the early days of the Internet when Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented it as a way to differentiate web addresses from other types of services.

Its primary purpose was to indicate that a URL would direct users to a website hosted on the burgeoning global network.

As time went on and the internet evolved into the multimedia platform we know today, the use of these additional prefixes began fading away until eventually ‘www’ became synonymous with websites themselves.

And while using this prefix is still largely considered by many as a standard practice due to tradition and habit, its necessity has diminished significantly over time.

How It Affects Website Navigation

Navigating websites with the ‘www’ prefix may seem like a standard practice, but it can have certain implications on user experience and website accessibility. For instance, typing a URL without including the ‘www’ prefix might lead to an error message if proper redirects are not in place.

On the other hand, removing the ‘www’ prefix can create a clean and modern look for your domain name, enhancing branding efforts and making it more memorable for your target audience.

In terms of SEO implications, however, consistency is key when choosing between using or omitting this prefix since search engines view each version as a separate entity.

Misconfigurations in server-side redirects or canonical tags could lead to issues such as duplicate content penalties or reduced crawling budget allocation from search engines like Google.

Websites Without The ‘www’ Prefix

No limits on a fake computer screen

Discover popular websites that function differently without ‘www’ and how omitting it can benefit your branding and user experience.

Examples Of Popular Websites Without ‘www’

It’s becoming increasingly common for well-known websites to drop the ‘www’ prefix from their domain names, opting for a cleaner and more user-friendly appearance. Some notable examples of popular websites without the ‘www’ prefix include:

  1. Server Fault (serverfault.com) – A question-and-answer site for system administrators and network professionals.
  2. Stack Overflow (stackoverflow.com) – A platform that provides solutions and support for developers worldwide.
  3. Facebook (facebook.com) – One of the largest social media platforms on the internet today, with billions of users globally.
  4. Dropbox (dropbox.com) – A file hosting service that allows users to store, share, and synchronize files across multiple devices.
  5. Slack (slack.com) – A messaging and collaboration tool designed to simplify team communication in various industries.
  6. LinkedIn (linkedin.com) – The world’s largest professional network with millions of members from diverse industries.
  7. GitHub (github.com) – A web-based hosting service for version control using Git, catering to software developers.
  8. Medium (medium.com) – An online publishing platform where anyone can write and share articles or stories.

These websites demonstrate that omitting the ‘www’ prefix can work seamlessly while maintaining excellent functionality and performance across a wide range of industries and purposes

How They Function Differently

Websites without the ‘www’ prefix function similarly to their ‘www’ counterparts but differ in terms of how they’re accessed and displayed on web browsers. For example, when you enter a URL without the ‘www’, your web browser will assume that it’s an HTTP request and try to connect to the server directly.

Some popular websites that have dropped the ‘www’ include Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. By omitting ‘www’, these websites have created shorter URLs for branding purposes and improved user experience by making it easier to remember their domain names.

However, there may be potential issues with cookies and traffic handling if not set up correctly.

Pros And Cons Of Omitting ‘www’

'http://www' on graphics.

– Omitting ‘www’ can benefit branding and user experience, but it may also cause potential issues with cookies and traffic handling.

Benefits Of Branding And User Experience

Choosing to omit the “www” prefix can have several benefits for branding and user experience. For one, it creates a shorter and more concise URL that is easier to remember and type in.

This can make it more memorable for users, which may lead to increased traffic over time.

From a branding perspective, having a non-www domain name can help create consistency across your online presence. It allows you to use the same brand name across all social media platforms without having to modify it with “www”.

Overall, opting out of using “www” in your domain name may provide several advantages for both branding and user experience.

Potential Issues With Cookies And Traffic Handling

Choosing between a www or non-www domain can affect website performance and security due to cookies. Cookies are small files that websites send to a user’s computer to remember their preferences and login information.

If a site uses subdomains, then the cookies will be shared across all subdomains under the same root domain unless they have been specifically configured not to share.

An example of this is if a user logs in on ‘www.example.com’ but clicks on a link leading them to ‘example.com’, where they are logged out due to cookie sharing limitations.

Additionally, using too many cookies can slow down site loading times, affecting website performance negatively.

SEO Considerations For ‘www’ Vs. Non-‘www’ Domains

Showing a word SEO inside the cloud.

It’s crucial to maintain consistency in your domain name to avoid SEO issues caused by duplicate content and crawling budget waste. Discover the benefits of using ‘www’ vs.

non-‘www,’ and how canonical tags or server-side redirects can help you choose the best option for your website’s needs.

Importance Of Consistency

Consistency is crucial when it comes to choosing between the www and non-www domain versions. Search engines view these as different websites and failure to specify your preference can negatively impact your SEO efforts.

Inconsistency in website URLs can lead to duplicate content issues, potentially impacting the crawling budget and backlink value. A server-side redirect or canonical tag helps avoid this problem by signaling your preferred site version consistently across all platforms and communicating with search engines.

Redirects And Canonical Tags

To specify a preferred domain name and avoid issues with duplicate content, website owners have two main options: redirects and canonical tags. A server-side 301 redirect can be used to permanently redirect all traffic from one version of the site (www or non-www) to the other.

This approach is SEO-friendly and ensures that backlink value is consolidated under one URL.

For example, if your website has both www and non-www versions that are accessible to users but serve identical content, you could use a canonical tag on every page of your non-preferred domain (let’s say it’s non-www) pointing to the equivalent page on your preferred domain (which would be www).

This will tell search engines which page should get credit for any links or ranking signals associated with either page.

In summary, whether you choose redirects or canonical tags depends largely on your goals and preferences, as well as technical considerations like server access and coding abilities.

How To Choose Between ‘www’ And Non-‘www’ For Your Website

A person writing on graphics of 'www'

Consider the factors that matter to your website’s branding, user experience, and technical requirements when choosing between ‘www’ and non-‘www’, and ensure consistency across all pages of your site.

Factors To Consider

When choosing between using “www” or omitting it from your domain name, there are several factors to consider as mentioned before. These include:

  1. Branding: Consider the branding and aesthetics of your website URL with and without “www”. Which version looks more visually pleasing and aligns better with your brand image?
  2. User Experience: The non-www” URL is shorter and can make it easier for users to remember and type in directly. However, some users may still expect the “www” prefix and could potentially have difficulty reaching your site if it’s omitted.
  3. SEO: Both www and non-www versions require separate DNS records, so consistency is essential when linking back to your website. Choose one preferred option (with or without “www”) to avoid duplicate content issues that can negatively impact SEO.
  4. Technical considerations: When implementing redirects or canonical tags, be aware of any technical limitations within your web hosting environment that may affect implementation.
  5. Security: Websites without the “www” prefix are susceptible to cookie-related security risks such as session hijacking or cross-site scripting attacks.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision about whether to include “www” in your domain name or not, taking into account the benefits of branding, user experience, SEO, technical considerations, and security risks associated with each option.

Setting Up Your Website Without The ‘www’ Prefix

Graphical representation of Domain name server and many other domain matters.

To set up your website without the ‘www’ prefix, you will need to configure domain settings and implement redirects for a seamless user experience.

Configuring Domain Settings

To configure your domain settings for a non-www URL, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your domain registrar account.
  2. Locate the DNS settings for your domain.
  3. Create an A record that points to your IP address or server for the non-www URL.
  4. Create a CNAME record that redirects requests from the www URL to the non-www URL.
  5. Set up a 301 redirect from www to non-www using server-side redirection or a .htaccess file.
  6. Inform search engines about your preferred domain name using Google Search Console or other webmaster tools.
  7. Update internal links on your website to reflect the change to the non-www URL.

Remember, it’s important to ensure consistency between URLs and inform search engines about your preferred domain name variation to avoid duplicate content issues and being indexed as separate websites. Configuring domain settings correctly can also impact website performance and security by preventing cookie waste and improving website speed and user experience.

Implementing Redirects For A Seamless User Experience

To ensure a smooth user experience and avoid confusing search engines, implementing the proper redirects is crucial when choosing between ‘www’ and non-www domains. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Set a preferred domain in Google Search Console or other webmaster tools.
  2. Use a 301 redirect from the non-preferred version to the preferred version of the site.
  3. Ensure that all internal links point to the preferred version of the site.
  4. Update any backlinks to point directly to the preferred version of the site.
  5. Monitor website traffic after implementing redirects to ensure there are no issues.

By implementing proper redirects, you can avoid duplicate content issues, pass link equity, and create a seamless user experience for visitors to your website. Remember to regularly monitor your website’s performance and make adjustments as necessary to maintain optimal functionality.


In conclusion, the use of “www” in a website’s domain name is not mandatory. While it may impact user experience, branding, and security in some cases, omitting it offers benefits such as simplicity and ease of use.

When choosing between ‘www’ or non-www,’ it’s essential to consider SEO implications carefully. Redirects and canonical tags are helpful tools for indicating your preferred site version and avoiding duplicate content issues.

Remember to monitor your website’s health regularly to ensure technical bugs don’t affect your SEO performance negatively.


Are there any potential drawbacks to omitting the ‘www’ prefix in my website’s domain name?
While omitting the ‘www’ prefix can lead to a cleaner URL, there can be potential drawbacks. It could potentially lead to issues with cookie handling, particularly if you have subdomains. Also, traffic management could become more complicated. Both these issues require proper technical implementation to overcome.

How does choosing between ‘www’ or non-www domains impact SEO?

Whether you choose a ‘www’ or non-www domain doesn’t directly impact SEO. However, consistency is crucial. Server-side redirects or canonical tags are useful for indicating your preferred site version and avoiding duplicate content issues. Whichever option you choose, it should be used consistently across your site to maintain SEO efficacy.


By Aleyna Akarsu – The Expert in Web Development, Marketing, and Online Business.

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