Just in case it’s escaped you, there has been an angry bitter battle going on over the years between those who advocate the www. prefix before a URL address and those who believe a URL should be ‘bare’ or ‘naked’! i.e. without a www. prefix. OK. What does this have to do with SEO, dental marketing and anything for that matter I hear you ask? I shall explain, but firstly some background.
This subject came to light recently when preforming a diagnostic on a dental website using Screaming Frog and looking for duplicate content. The site had numerous pages with exactly the same content across two different domains (http//www.theexamplesite.com and http//theexamplesite.com). Technically speaking the www. version of a domain is the Hostname. Example being that; www.dental-design-products.co.uk is the hostname of dental-design-products.co.uk. dental-design-products.co.uk is the ‘root domain’ . Have I bored you yet…?
The implication of this for SEO, dental marketing and web management are explained further below;
There is some debate about whether or not the search engines define this as ‘duplicate content’. However, the fact remains that this is the same thing in two different locations. Something which Google, in particular, has spoken about as being harmful for SEO. So, whilst the search engines are not going to penalise you very heavily for having this duplicate content across these two domains and there is little to be gained from having these two domains, tidying it up is certainly going to be advantageous in safeguarding against a penalty.
Sharing link juice:
By having one lot of page content share itself over two domains, the linking effect is being diluted. It is better to concentrate your link building by focussing on one domain for that content so as to take full advantage of the links.
The aforementioned battle continues between the benefits of using either www. or none-www. URL’s.
The arguments for the www. include the fact that it distinguishes the address from similar URL’s for FTP, mail or other data types (e’g FTP.theexamplesite.com – a file sharing facility, or POP.examplesite.com – for emails). Another weapon in their camp is the fact that users are used to seeing this and many still use the prefix even when searching in search browsers. Those not particularly tech savvy, still require the www. to identify the text as a web address, despite the .co.uk, .org, .com or other ending.
The pro ‘naked’ URL’s camp think the prefix is dated and unnecessary and certainly the big online brands that we know (Google.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com), do not feel the need to add the www in their advertising.
Returning to the problem at hand, the best practice for web management and SEO is just to pick one and stick with it. For SEO the best one to pick is the one with the most high quality links, so as to maximise the benefits when you redirect the one to the other. For branding, what type of site you have, who your users are and what the URL looks like with or without the prefix will help you to determine which to preference. Some URL’s can be ridiculously long; whilst others are so short it’s hard to identify it as a web address so the prefix works. And finally for search engines, they just want to crawl your site without the confusion of having to decide between two identical pages. Clearly ranking a preferred format helps them to realise what you mean and makes crawling for them easier. A bonus for SEO.
All of the above said, users nowadays are less likely to enter the actual full web address when searching for a site they want, even if it’s www.theexamplesite.com they want, and it’s now much easier for users to default to their search engines, simply typing in ‘the example site’ to bring up the site they want. With search engines providing more relevant results, this use is on the increase, with the majority of users hardly noticing or understanding the web address and whether it’s prefixed with a www. or not.
That said, the problem still exists and to fix it requires a quick and easy redirect which can be installed on your site which defines the preferred URL.
If you are aware of your sites duplicate URL’s or would like us to check for you, then give dental design a call on 01202 677277 to discuss further.