Enhancing Website URLs in WordPress: Adding the WWW Prefix


In the ever-evolving landscape of web development, altering the URL structure of your WordPress site can become a necessity for various reasons. Be it a rebranding initiative, a security enhancement like transitioning from HTTP to HTTPS, or the desire to switch from a standard www URL to a naked (non-www) one, the need for URL modifications can arise. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the rationale behind adding the “www” prefix to your WordPress URLs and elucidate multiple methods to achieve this.

I. Reasons to Embrace WWW

At first glance, the contrast between two websites, one employing the “www” prefix and the other without it, may seem minimal. Both utilize secure HTTPS connections and possess succinct .com domain names. However, there exists a fundamental distinction that influences this choice.

Subheading: Efficient Cookie Handling

Large websites housing subdomains necessitate the use of “www” due to how web browsers manage cookies. With “www,” browsers store cookies for the entire website, including all subdomains, ensuring efficient functionality. In contrast, the absence of “www” results in browsers having to store distinct cookies for each subdomain request, a process that considerably hampers website loading times.

II. Adding WWW in WordPress

For those inclined to incorporate the “www” prefix into their WordPress websites, regardless of whether subdomains are involved, there are several approaches to accomplish this task. However, it is imperative to exercise caution during this process, as a misstep can lead to unintended consequences affecting your website’s frontend, backend access, and link functionality.

Subheading: 1. Utilizing the WordPress Admin

Navigate to the WordPress dashboard and access the General Settings. In this section, you will need to modify two specific fields. Make sure to follow the instructions meticulously to prevent any complications.

Subheading: 2. Implementing Changes via the wp-config.php File

For those who prefer a more hard-coded approach, the wp-config.php file offers a suitable option. This method involves editing the file with specific lines of code to effect the desired domain name change.

Subheading: 3. Database Search and Replace

Depending on your website’s plugins and theme, a comprehensive search and replace operation within the database may be necessary to ensure all references to the old non-www URL are updated to the new one. WP-CLI can simplify this process, and further details can be found in our dedicated documentation.

III. The Importance of Implementing a 301 Redirect

A common query that arises is whether it is advisable to maintain both a “www” and a non-www version of a website. This section elucidates the potential issues associated with such an approach and emphasizes the significance of implementing a 301 redirect.

Subheading: A Dual Existence: www vs. Non-www

Maintaining both a “www” and non-www version of a website concurrently can lead to complications. Google indexes website content and associates it with the full URL. Shifting from a non-www to a “www” domain down the line necessitates Google to re-index the website from scratch, resulting in a loss of established link authority.

Creating a “www” mirror of the non-www site poses SEO challenges, as Google bots may interpret it as an attempt to rank both versions simultaneously, leading to content competition and potential search penalties. The key recommendation here is to make a definitive choice between “www” and non-www and adhere to it.

Subheading: Setting Up a 301 Redirect

Once you’ve made your URL choice, it is crucial to establish a 301 redirect. This process redirects traffic from the non-www version to the “www” version, ensuring that all visitors searching for your brand land on the correct and updated URL.

IV. Final Considerations

In concluding this discourse, the decision of whether to adopt the “www” prefix in your WordPress website ultimately rests on your preferences and specific needs. While large websites with subdomains benefit from its use, other factors, such as aesthetics and brand recognition, play a role in the decision-making process. Regardless of your choice, the key is to execute the transition meticulously, following the provided steps, to ensure its seamless integration.

In summary, the question of “to www or not to www” has been addressed comprehensively. Large websites with subdomains have clear reasons to employ “www,” but for others, it’s a matter of personal preference and branding. Should you decide to embrace “www,” be sure to execute the process with precision to reap the benefits it offers to your WordPress site.

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