by Jody Nimetz
An interesting topic of discussion surrounds the thought of whether a sub-domain should have the www prefix attached to it. The idea to deploy a site using sub-domains vs sub folders is an entirely different topic, but if you do make use of sub-domains, you’ll want to read further. For those unaware, subdomains are simply a domain that is part of a larger domain. For example, ask.enquiro is a sub-domain of www.enquiro.com. Although it is part of the main Enquiro domain, sub-domains such as ask.enquiiro are treated as separate entities by search engines.
Typically you will see the sub-domain with this naming convention:
Using ASK Enquiro as an example, in ask.enquiro.com, ask is the prefix for the sub-domain. With a normal domain, typically "www" is the prefix. This is the way that the Domain Name System (DNS) hierarchy works. In otherwords, when using sub-domains you will very rarely see the URL appearing as: http:/www.ask.enquiro.com. It’s a little overkill. In essence, the sub-domain is the prefix for the main domain. As a result the "proper" version of the sub-domain is http://ask.enquiro.com. The question becomes should you place a redirect on http://www.ask.enquiro.com to http://ask.enquiro.com? Well the answer is it depends. I would suggest that you do not place a redirect in this case for the simple fact that very few people will be typing or using "http://www.ask.enquiro.com" to find ASK Enquiro. When viewing our analytics, there was no occurence of any direct traffic coming to the site using "http://www.ask.enquiro.com" . Not one direct referral using this naming convention. Typically we expect the new users to arrive at ASK Enquiro by:
- Searching for ASK Enquiro in a Search Engine such as Google
- Access ASK Enquiro from our main site
- Bookmark ASK Enquiro
- Type ask.enquiro.com into an address bar
So should you place a redirect from www.sub-domain.yourdomain.com to sub-domain.yourdomain.com? Well you can, but really it is not necessary. If you don’t believe us take Google for example. Google use numerous sub-domains for their various web properties. There is a reason that it’s http://mail.google.com and not http://www.mail.google.com. Google does not redirect the www version of the sub-domain to the actual sub-domain. The sub-domain address for Google Mail is mail.google.com. It is unlikely that many people are typing in www.mail.google.com into a browser. Click on the link and you will see that you get taken to an error page. You are not redirected. People just do not use this type of www + sub-domain naming conventions. There are examples of some site that do but it’s not necessary.
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