It is many a time confusing whether to use the domain name with or without www for your website. Many people think WWW gives a professional approach to a website. They use WWW for their websites. Even most of the popular sites have WWW. Many prefer domain name without WWW as it becomes shorter and convenient.
What is the difference?
The domain name we buy is called Naked Domain. We can then create its sub-domains, use email service for it, update its DNS resource records and much more. The main purpose of domain name is to represent the IP resource. It gives easier way to access a website and URLs. There are neutral domains (.com, .org, .net, .info etc.) as well as country targeted domains (like .in, .co.in, .co.uk etc.).
When we use a domain without WWW, we use it in its Naked Form. It acts as a directory too. WWW is like any other sub-domain of it.
For example, wikipedia.org is naked domain while www.wikipedia.org, en.wikipedia.org are all sub-domains of it.
WWW for Search Engines
Search engines seek quality (and relevant) content. WWW or without WWW issue doesn’t matter here. Many popular websites (like Google, Yahoo, Facebook etc.) have WWW in their domain. While, some (like Twitter, WordPress, Mashable, Techcrunch etc.) don’t have WWW. All the sites rank very well in search engines. So if you are concerned about SEO, you should not worry about this and choose whatever you find convenient.
When It Matters Exactly?
As I already mentioned, for SEO, you can go with anyone. But apart from rankings, there are many factors you should know about.
Your naked domain is like Head (or Root) of all your sub domains. All the sub-domains are under it. If you have various versions of your site or if you are using sub-domains along with the domain, you should go with WWW.
WWW will help user to differentiate that particular site from its sub-domains. Like www.yahoo.com is different from in.yahoo.com and uk.yahoo.com.
Search on Google as site:yahoo.com, you will find all the websites of Yahoo including sub-domains. This is applicable to all major search engines. If a user wants to search content on main Yahoo website, he/she can easily search as site:www.yahoo.com. But if it was just Yahoo.com, it would have been very difficult for users to search content on main Yahoo website.
Also, many sites use prefixes WW2, WW3 etc. to scale up the traffic among various servers. This will be very difficult for a non WWW site.
Many CDN services (e.g. CloudFlare) don’t support naked domain. So, we have to use WWW there.
Some Myths :
1. Websites with WWW get better rankings than websites without WWW.
→ Your rankings have nothing to do with WWW. If you have High Quality (and relevant) Content, Google will show your pages in results (SERPs).
2. Use of naked domain increases the chances of getting your website hacked
→ Are the above mentioned sites ever hacked? Security of a website is different issue.
3. Google never considers a site without WWW as a Business Site
→ First of all, let me know where Google classifies sites as Business Sites and Other sites. Google seeks relevant content, not business.
4. Naked domain gives problems while using SSL
→ This might happen if you haven’t set up your SSL properly. Many sites (like Twitter) with naked domain can be accessed with SSL (https://), without any hassle.
Final Words :
It is recommended to use WWW as a prefix in your website domain. This helps users to search contents on your website with ease. But if you use domain without WWW, that is not going to harm your website in any way. Choose the one you find convenient. And also make sure you properly redirect to the proper version of your domain.