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Should I use 'www' or not?

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Posted 18-03-2009 at 10:05 AM by Paul
Updated 19-03-2009 at 05:12 PM by Paul

The question of should you be using www or not in site names comes up repeatedly, however the answer is quite simple it doesn't matter which version you.

What does matter is that you consistently use your chosen form and that you correctly redirect visitors and search engines to your chosen form should they arrive on the alternate. That is if you choose webtalkmail.com then a visitor entering www.webtalkmail.com should be redirected to webtalkmail.com using a permanent redirect.

Why do you need this redirection? You need it to stop your site appearing on two different URLs. If your site does show for two URL then it could cause duplicate content issues with search engines and result in poor ranking.

You can easily test if your site suffers this problem:
  1. First going to your site with the www at the start e.g. www,webtalkmail.com
  2. Once your page loads make a note of the address in the browsers address bar
  3. Now go to your site without the www e.g. webtalkmail.com
  4. Again make a note of the address shown in the browsers address bar.

If the addresses from steps 2 and 4 match then your site is properly redirecting visitors and search engines, however if the addresses differ then you need to consider adding a redirect.

A redirect is added to your sites .htaccess file, you make not have an existing .htaccess file in which case you can just create one. The following three lines when placed in .htaccess redirect visitors entering www.webtalkmail.com to our chosen form of webtalkmail.com:
Code:
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^webtalkmail\.com [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://webtalkmail.com/$1 [R=301,L]
Had we chosen ww.webtalkmail.com as our domain then we would have used the following to redirect from the non-www form:
Code:
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.webtalkmail\.com [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.webtalkmail.com/$1 [R=301,L]
To use the above you simply need to choose the form of domain name and then change the domain from webtalkmail.com to yours.
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