For years, entering www before the name of a website in the URL bar was the norm. So much so that it’s become an automatic behavior, and many people continue to type in www without even thinking about it.
But recently, there’s been a growing trend where more and more legal sites (and websites in general) are choosing not to use the www prefix. This website is a good example where you’ll notice that the URL is simply bestlegalpractices.com rather than www.bestlegalpractices.com.
The question is, which option is better from an SEO standpoint? Let’s find out.
The www prefix is short for World Wide Web, which “is an information space where documents and other web resources are identified by Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), interlinked by hypertext links, and accessible via the Internet.” Entering www in the URL bar was a practice that originally started in the early 90s and has been commonplace ever since.
The Impact on SEO
With two different variations, many legal marketers want to know which choice is better for SEO.
- Is it better to use the www prefix?
- Is it better to ditch it?
- Or does it even make a difference?
According to Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, it doesn’t really matter. Here’s a tweet that proves it.
Google doesn’t appear to have a preference either way. So you don’t need to worry about penalties or anything like that. But there’s a caveat.
Confusing Search Engines
“What you should consider, though, is that switching back and forth between www and no www is not wise,” writes marketing consultant Jenny Halasz in Search Engine Journal. “It can create confusion for the search engines and duplicate content if one version is not redirected to the other.”
And that’s an interesting point. You certainly don’t want to add any unnecessary complexity for search engines by using www for some pages and not using it for others. While it won’t get you penalized, and you’re unlikely to see a dramatic drop in your rankings, it’s not going to do you any favors either.
Picking One and Sticking With It
The bottom line is that you should decide to either use www or not use it. Don’t switch between the two because your SEO can suffer.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to specify your preferred version. Simply use the Google Search Console, and click on Configuration > Settings > Preferred Domain.
That will allow you to choose. And if you ever want to change it, just go back and update your settings.
The Internet has evolved dramatically over the years. One of the more recent trends is to eliminate the www prefix and simply use the website name in the URL instead.
And this is totally fine. It’s just that you should have an understanding of the SEO implications.
It may seem a little nit-picky, but anything you can do to help your law firm’s SEO is beneficial. Formally choosing to use www or not use it should give you a small but noticeable advantage over the competition.