This is something a lot of people forget, yet is highly important to a normal and consistent flow of traffic…

When browsing the internet from my Powerbook, I use either FireFox, Camino, Safari or Flock. These browsers have the simple yet nifty habit of completing the URL’s I type in the addressbar. When typing cnn.com, they will take me to http://www.cnn.com.
At work, I use use either FireFox or Internet Explorer. With the latter, this function does not exist and asks from me to add either the http:// or www. in front of the actual domain name.

Many bloggers, using one of the not-IE browsers copy-paste links to other sites without the www.-part in the url’s they put on their sites. As a result many links, when being surfed with IE, respond not as they should. Either it returns a 404, or you find yourself in a (most of the time unaccessible) subdomain of the specific targeted domain.

Fixing this problem has 2 sides: 1. that of the person who is browsing with IE, 2. that of the person who set up the site and the displayed links.

  1. For the IE user there are 2 options. Either wait for IE7… or Browse Happy.
  2. For the publisher… he or she has to keep 2 things in mind: His/her visitors and his/her domain.

Visitors

If you analyze your visitors’ data regularly you have a good grasp of how big a percentage uses IE. If this is substantial, you might consider rechecking all your site’s outgoing and internal links (enough sites that have a “home” link that points to http://yourdomain.com) and make sure all future links are complete, i.e. WITH the www.-part.

Domain

For those being able to manage their site’s domain completely the following might be interesting.
As you might have noticed, ipears.com never shows the www.-part. Even when you type the full address, you will notice that it is being corrected to http://ipears.com
It is not only to keep the IE-visitors happy, it also follows the philosophy that we do not need the www.-part in a domain:

By default, all popular Web browsers assume the HTTP protocol. In doing so, the software prepends the http:// onto the requested URL and automatically connect to the HTTP server on port 80. Why then do many servers require their websites to communicate through the www subdomain? Mail servers do not require you to send emails to recipient@mail.domain.com. Likewise, web servers should allow access to their pages though the main domain unless a particular subdomain is required.

Succinctly, use of the www subdomain is redundant and time consuming to communicate. The internet, media, and society are all better off without it. (source: www. is deprecated)

You can read more about this philosophy and how to tweak your site’s domain accordingly over at http://no-www.org/. Using this method (.htaccess access is needed) your site will be accessible through both http://www.yourdomain.com AND http://yourdomain.com and all traffic from www.yourdomain.com will be redirected to yourdomain.com.

As not all servers use the www subdomain alike, in this way you control the accessibility of your site better and reduce the amount of broken traffic.

Any experience with this?

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