What is a Preferred Domain?
First let’s understand what a preferred domain is exactly. Your url/domain name can start with https://www. or without (Https://. domain). A preferred domain is a domain you have chosen as the one that you prefer the user to be shown in search results and in the display area of their browser. A preferred domain is also the domain that you want your users to be redirected to whether they type in www or not. Most companies find the value in branding their site without the www for brand recognicion, similar to https://message.io/ or https://dev.io/.
What do Preferred Domains Have to do with Search Engine Optization?
Many search engines see a domain with a www and without a www as two separate domains, even when the resolved url is identical, this can split your market share/ value in the results. With this understanding if you look at www.mail.com it also opens up when someone types mail.com, search engines may crawl both domains or only one or the other of them. Giving each subdomain or domain alternate values. This means that sometimes search engines will crawl and index the main domain that is not preferred, increasing it’s value. If this happens you may think that your site has not been indexed by search engines when actually the non-preferred URL has been indexed, due to search engines considering the www and the non-www domains as separate web addresses.
How to ensure Duplicate Content isn’t an issue:
You must make preferred domains known to search engines (via Webmaster Tools for Bing, google, and yahoo) to avoid duplicate content issues. If search engines crawl and index both the www and non-www versions of your site, they will consider these to be two separate pages but will notice that they have identical content. This may cause your site to face duplicate content issues. Even though when researched the sitemap url links and main domain are the same for each of the crawled versions.
Which should you choose for your Preferred Domain, WWW or Non-WWW:
This really boils down to your individual preference. You could choose based on which one aligns with your other forms of marketing, is most often bookmarked by your users, or which one is most often used to link to your website (this should be based on your history of share url links). Some technical reasons for using the www version may include default linking structures, many platforms only output links with www.domain.com, which can cause you to become restricted in your affiliate link building strategies. Don’t forget to run a database find and replace update to all of your internal links to point to the correct version, once your have decided to use or not use www!
Popular websites that use www domains are:
Popular websites that do not use www domains are:
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