Is It A Google Ranking Factor?


Does the inclusion or exclusion of www in a URL affect organic search rankings?

Some SEO professionals claim that domains using www rank higher than domains that do not use www, or vice versa.

In this chapter, we will determine whether using or excluding www in your domain is a Google ranking factor.

Assertion: WWW/Non-WWW is a ranking factor in a URL

Would https://www.example.com rank higher than https://example.com (or vice versa) based solely on the use of www (or lack thereof)?

To determine this, we must first define what the www part of the URL represents.

Let’s look at the following URL:

  • https://example.com/page.html – An HTML page on the root domain.
  • https://example.com/folder/page.html – An HTML page in a subfolder/subdirectory.
  • https://www.example.com/page.html – An HTML page under the www subdomain.
  • https://store.example.com/page.html – An HTML page under the Store subdomain.

Now that we know that www is seen as a subdomain, let’s see what Google has to say about using subdomains and subdirectories,

Evidence Against WWW or Non-WWW as a Ranking Factor

In 2005Google published an article about www vs non-www for developers on the Google Search Central blog.

The author does not indicate whether Google has a preference; Only webmasters should choose one or the other.

Since then, Google has confirmed that the www subdomain does not affect rankings.

In 2017A Twitter user asked whether Google prefers www or non-www for SEO.

John Mueller, Google Search Advocate confirms that www is a brand preference with minimal SEO impact.

In 2018During Google webmaster central office hours, someone asked if there was a difference between subdomains and subdirectories for Google.

According to Müller, “in general, that’s what we see in them.”

In 2019Mueller explained the canonical URL on the Google Search Central blog:

“Sometimes a web page can be accessed using more than one URL. In such cases, Google tries to determine the best URL to display in search and use in other ways. We call this the ‘canonical URL’. There are several ways site owners can help us better determine what authentic URLs should be for their content.”

He explains how you can use Google Search Console to determine which URL Google has selected.

If you’d prefer the non-www version of your website, and Google chose a page over the www version, you can follow the instructions for consolidating the updated duplicate URLs. 2021,

In 2020Mozilla updated a guide for webmasters to choose the www or non-www version of their domain.

They also conclude that it doesn’t matter which version of your site you choose, as long as you stick with that version as the canonical URL.

They further explain how you can set up your authenticated URLs.

The Use of WWW vs. Non-WWW as a Ranking Factor: Our Judgment

WWW Vs.  Non WWW: Is It A Google Ranking Factor?

Without Google’s word or research proving that a domain with or without www ranks better, we would have to conclude that it is unlikely to be a ranking factor.

The key to success with www or non-www is to choose one and be consistent.


Featured image: Robin Byong/Search Engine Journal





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