UNDERSTANDING THE WWW.
I came to the web with an itch to build content, and I needed
to understand the technology utilized to build the Internet.
Early on, I confronted the question about whether it was
necessary to use the www. in my website URL. It really began
to be a concern to me when I began to advertise my domain and
I was limited to a certain number of lines and characters in my
advertising. Although the www. only comprised four characters,
those four characters sometimes made a significant difference
in allowing me to have enough space to say what I wanted to
Most every website on the planet advertises their website with
the www. included in the URL. I wondered if dropping the www.
would create a problem with people finding my site. The answer
is that it depends on your web server configuration.
WHAT MAKES A WEBSERVER DIFFERENT FROM YOUR PC
Putting it in simple terms, a web server is put together in
the same fashion as your own computer. Both have a set of
directories, subdirectories and files which let you remain
somewhat organized. The only difference between your computer
and a webserver is the type of software that is loaded onto
THE PURPOSE OF THE WWW_ DESIGNATION IN THE FOLDER NAMES
A webserver simply consists of software designed to allow
external users to access the computer through a specific
doorway in the system called a *port*.
The webserver software handles all requests coming into the
computer for information.
All folders that represent different domains on the webserver
are generally marked off with the www_ in the name of the
folder. This reminds the system administrator that the folder
is directly accessible from the Internet.
The www_ designation is not needed by the webserver --- it is
needed by the human operators.
Domain pointers are like shortcuts on your desktop. They are
only files which point to another location on your computer.
Clicking those shortcuts start new programs without your
having to search for the actual program.
Most webservers are set up to utilize these pointers to allow
someone to direct access another folder on the webserver.
For example, on my server I have a folder called *double-eagles*
which is the home for another one of my domains. If you click
the link http://double-eagles.com , that is actually a domain
pointer directing your browser to open the folder
The same process applies to the use of subdomains, such
as URL's that utilize the www. For example, the URL
http://archives.thePhantomWriters.com points to a directory on
my server called http://thePhantomWriters.com/free_content
If you cannot access your domain name without using the www.
prefix, then you should contact your webhost to get this feature
enabled. The choice of using the www. or not should be made by
your visitors, not your webhosting provider.
THE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR WEBSERVER RECOGNIZING BOTH
All day long when I surf, I type in the URL name without the
www. included in the URL. I am often still surprised to see
top name domains from whom you cannot access the non-www.
presentation of their website!
Can you imagine what would happen if someone put yourdomain.com
into their browser and they received a Cannot Find Server error?
*Bye-bye visitor... Wish we could have been introduced.*
WHAT ABOUT SEARCH ENGINE SPAMMING?
Search engine spiders are known to frown upon websites who
introduce the exact same content under two different domain
names. The search engine administrators generally view this
as an attempt to gain an unfair advantage in their results.
In fact, at one time I had read on the Google website that
providing mirror websites could lead to your site being banned
from their database.
The common knowledge has always been that the search engines
generally count only the www_ version or the non-www_ version
of a website. They do not list both in their results as they
understand that both versions are the same website.
So, for the last two years I have made available the www_
version for my visitors, but only advertised the non-www_
version of the site.
THE GOOGLE PAGERANK SURPRISE
About one week ago, I installed two new tracking tools on my
system to help me to guage the success of my advertising. Those
two tools are:
- Google PageRank Toolbar -
- Alexa Toolbar -
Both require using a Windows operating system and Internet
Explorer 5.0 or better for a browser, but both are exceptional
tools if you are a webmaster who cares about tracking your
MY BIG SURPRISE
Somehow, I managed to hit my domain with both the www_ prefix
and without. The first time I did this, I simply assumed that
my Google PageRank was bouncing from day to day with wide
swings. The second time I had done it, I realized that Google
was seeing the two URL's as two websites!
The PageRank for the URL I advertise (non-www.) is currently a
5/10, and the PageRank for the URL I do not advertise (www.)
holds a value of 2/10!
The Alexa toolbar sees both as the same page and records the
data for my domain the same in both cases.
The difference between the two rankings is that the www. version
has no links pointing to it. The non-www. version has 30 Google
links pointing to it.
It is important to note here that under the current guidelines
of Google, a website must have a PageRank of at least 4/10 in
order to be listed in Google's search results. Therefore,
although there are hundreds of websites pointing to my website,
only those with a PageRank of at least 4/10 will actually show
up in the calculations for both Google PageRank and the Alexa
results --- which utilizes the Google search results in their
own rating systems.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THIS EXPERIENCE
I need to make sure that I can get my URL on more sites with
at least a 4/10 Google PageRank.
The number of links pointing to a website do make a significant
difference in the PageRank of the website.
If my only goal is to build my own PageRank or to get better
results in Google, I don't need to submit my information to
a website that does not have a PageRank of 4/10 or higher.
Putting my URL in my resource box and attaching it to a
free-reprint article really can get my URL into hundreds of
websites, some of whom will have a good Google PageRank.
And finally, I hope that people who use the Google toolbar who
visit my website come through to the non-www. version of my
website --- or else they might just think that my website has
no real value in the eyes of Google.