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WWW / Non-WWW Duplication

WWW / Non-WWW Duplication



Duplicate Content & Canonicalisation – WWW / Non-WWW Duplication

Whether your site is accessible from a URL containing or not containing the www is entirely up to you. So, there is no ‘correct’ or best practice with regards to whether you should include or not include the www…

However, you do actually have to choose which you want for your site and implement a solution that removes any canonical duplication / duplicate content issues. Failure to deal with this, can lead to various relatively low impact but undesirable issues for your site.

This article is one of several that fall under the duplicate content and canonicalisation series in the Raptor Knowledge Base. Please the below list for all other articles covering all of the different types of duplicate content and canonicalisation issues that a website can experience below:


To be clear, this issue typically affects a whole site, as the www can appear in all URLs, for example:

On our site, we have opted to not include the www as it just makes the URL longer, but that is our preference.

Impact of Issue

When a web page is accessible from more than one URL the possibility for Google to view all bar one of those pages as duplicate content. Google and other search engines can devalue duplicate content, which can result in a loss of rankings and consequently traffic, for terms targeted on those pages.
Hence if a site is accessible from both www and non-www variations, this could have a negative impact on your website’s content.

If your site suffers from other types of canonical duplication such as trailing slash and index file duplication... you can end up with a large number of URLs from which each page can be accessed, for example the home page would be accessible from all of these URLs:

Adding more issues has a multiplier effect; if you added http / https duplication to this there would be twice as many URLs that would allow the home page to be accessed from.

How to Resolve

There are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that this does not become an issue on your site. The first forces either of the two URLs to be used via a redirect and the second is a catchall solution for duplicate content.


You will need ‘write / modify’ access to the website’s .htaccess file in order to implement this solution. We always warn people that modifying the .htaccess file can have drastic effects on website functionality if implemented incorrectly. Always test immediately after publishing changes to the file.


Copy the code below into the .htaccess file, save and upload it to the root of the domain overwriting the existing file.

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.example\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]


Copy the code below into the .htaccess file, save and upload it to the root of the domain overwriting the existing file.

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^\.example\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

Canonical Tags

This is a topic mentioned in greater detail in another article specific to canonical tags but for the purpose of this article; adding a canonical tag to every page of the site will prevent most duplicate content issues on any site.

Raptor Tools!

Use Raptor’s SEO tools to analyse your site to determine if there are any www / non-www duplication issues. Our SEO auditing and web crawler software makes specific recommendations on how to fix this type of issue.

Benefit of Resolving

Controlling the URL’s from which your site & pages can be accessed prevents the potential impact from duplicate content issues.


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