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I'm not an advocate of the no-www movement. I like the www because it adds as a buffer to distinguish between our public and private/static sites.

The problem is that with one of our sites, our traffic is split pretty much 50/50 between those that use our www and those that don't.

Should I bother rewriting those who hit our non-www site to our WWW site? Or should I just leave them alone? All our google SEO whatnot is on our www site, so I'm not concerned about any of that, only about user perception.

Has anyone here had this problem before? I'm not concerned about the technial aspect (that's easy with a quick rewrite rule), primarily the social side.

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When you enter http://google.com it redirects to http://WWW.google.com –  Marco Demaio Nov 30 '12 at 11:17

4 Answers 4

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Either way is fine from a user perspective, as long as both work when you type them in the address bar. The problem is having both without redirecting one to the other. Google and other search engines will count www.example.com and example.com as two different URLS. This, along with inconsistently ordered URL parameters, is one of the major causes of duplicate content. If people are linking to both the www and non-www versions of pages, you're effectively diluting your PageRank between two different pages with the same content.

Since most of your Google traffic is coming through the www version, I'd 301 redirect the non-www to the www URLs. By doing it that way, you lose less potential PageRank through the 301 than you would the other way around.

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1  
+1 Agree 100%. Pick one format (doesn't matter which really) and make sure that the other redirects to it. That way both work as far as the user is concerned without any chance of confusing robots. –  Kris Jul 30 '10 at 15:42
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+1 - make sure that the response code sent back for the redirect is 301 (moved permanently) and not one of the other 30x codes (see RFC2616 or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HTTP_status_codes) otherwise the robots feeding search engines may still assume that content at the two addresses are being unique and distinct. –  David Spillett Aug 8 '10 at 11:02

I think folks are pretty-much used to it, especially those typing in URLs. I modified my primary hobby site to redirect from non-www to www a few years ago and didn't see any negative impact in traffic or user comments. YMMV of course ;)

One comment on the rewrite rule. Be careful if you are rewriting at multiple levels of your site with .htaccess files. I learned the hard way (split PR) that although some .htaccess rules inherit, mod_rewrite doesn't (at least not by default).

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I find that for questions like these a good option is to see how the big boys do it. Go visit sites like Google, Amazon, Yahoo, MSN, and so forth.

What I've found is that every one of these types of sites goes with the www. I'd recommend doing the same.

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I would recommend redirecting all users to www. If you ever want to do any static file hosting then you don't have to worry about cookies.

I've have a few clients who advertise their site without www, but I redirect the users to www and have Google index with www. I haven't had anyone complain.

Here is what I've put in my .htaccess files:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
    # for www
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}   !^www\.example\.com [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)          http://www.example.com/$1 [L,R]
</IfModule>

I haven't had any problems with this yet.

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Having a cookie free domain for static content is rarely a significant issue. Even if it becomes an issue you can set up another TLD for your static content. DotComs are pretty cheap. I'd say, pick whichever you prefer and if the marketing is very heavily without the WWW, then that is preferable. –  Kris Jul 30 '10 at 15:46
    
I've always tested for a non-empty HTTP_HOST string in my (identical) recipe before applying the redirect to avoid loops for HTTP/1.0 clients, but I'm not sure if this is important. –  JasonBirch Jul 31 '10 at 1:13
    
Yup, I also believe it's better to make it a R=301, to indicate that the redirect should be considered permanent. –  Bobby Jack Aug 3 '10 at 14:44
    
1+ for a 301 redirect. +-1 for another domain which which serves static contents because every domain needs a DNS lookup. OK, in nowadays that isn't a great issue...and every popular site, like Facebook, MySpace, etc. do it... ;-) –  fwaechter Aug 8 '10 at 10:51

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