Do You Need WWW. In Front of Your Domain?
Posted: Jul 08 2016 / Richard Bairstow / We are Underground
Question: Do You Need WWW. In Front of Your Domain? Does It Hurt Seo if I Don’t Have It?
The Short Answer Is No
Having the www. in front of your domain is just down to a record on a server. Google doesn’t actively look for it and the prefix was around way before Google became the search giant that they are today.
The longer answer has more to do with how you select your domain and how it competes and ranks against other domains. If your business was around before the internet, then you didn’t have much choice when it came to finding your domain. Back when businesses had to use their business name as a domain, corporate lawyers had a great time as you can imagine. Since then, the paradigm has shifted and now many businesses post-internet name themselves around a domain that fits or describes their operation or service rather than the other way around.
So if you are starting a business, e-commerce or not, picking your company name is pretty much the same as settling on your domain name, but how do you go about it?
A Bit of Information First. Why www Anyway?
The World Wide Web was the original browser created to match up with Tim Berners-Lee’s work with creating an “information space” while he was working at CERN in Switzerland. Now known as just ‘The Web’, it is an increasingly a crowded space with seemingly limitless real estate. Google and other search engines try to make sense of this space by sending out investigative files who ask questions when they hit your domain: How popular is this domain? Where does it get its traffic? Is it “safe”? What is its purpose?
Once that data is fed back, Google comes to certain conclusions based around yet more questions. Do we include this in a search? Is it relevant to a search? Do we upgrade the domain based on popularity, backlinks from other popular and relevant domains? Is it suspicious? Is it the competition and therefore downgraded? Looking at you Facebook.
Why Choosing the Right Domain Is Important (Beyond the Obvious)
EMD’s or ‘Exact Match Domains’. Most SEO experts agree that EMD’s are really important for ranking well in a natural search. If I sold ‘Blue Rubber Boots’, I would want to register bluerubberboots.com because the keywords are in themselves a ranking factor.
It’s not so cut and dried these days, but it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution. Our research certainly shows that shops with exact match domains still tend to draw more organic traffic and perform better when it comes to vying for advertising traffic. People just tend to think instinctively that if your domain is “bluerubberboots.com”, then you are the official authority. Why would they go elsewhere?
Straying too far from using an EMD and you risk having to pay more into your marketing budget to bolster traffic generation than you would like to. If you domain doesn’t describe exactly what you are, or what you do then you have to spend money and resource on “getting the word out”.
All of Your EMD’s Are Taken?
Yes. That is annoying. Some other business has already grabbed your keywords and they aren’t going to let them go. This is a common occurrence of course, but don’t get too downhearted. You just have to think laterally and do some research.
Think of some examples of brands who have “made it” online: ASOS, BooHoo, and one of our Shopify faves, Tattly. All of these brands and many more took a calculated risk and played the odds in the search gamble.
The unifying theme is that these words, these brands, don’t mean anything. The domains don’t compete with anything else. This is why ‘Shopify’ is called what it is. Add ‘F’ and ‘Y’ to ‘shop’ and you have one EMD in ‘shop’, to add the ‘F’ and ‘Y’ gives meaning - as in to make something of something else. Literally speaking, to ‘Shopify’ a website is to turn a website into a shop. Clever stuff. Of course, this method of naming convention became popular in its own right sometime in the early years of this millennium.
The thing to recognise is that these domains don’t compete. Type Shopify or ASOS into google and that’s what you will get. Right at the top. Of course, you need to work on brand awareness to really get this method moving, but you will notice that even one EMD in your domain will help you on your journey.
We’d love to tell you more about selecting and optimising domains, but it’s a huge subject with many twists and turns. If you would like to know more, or need a hand with SEO, tell us in the comments below or just contact us. We are here to help you succeed on your Shopify adventure.
Also, did we mention our kick-ass Shopify themes? Your shop has to look good when visitors come around :)
Richard Bairstow is the founder and CEO of We are Underground and is recognised as a leading authority in the Shopify Theme marketplace with 5 of the best selling published themes within the Shopify theme store and over 20,000 active Shopify customers.