Why does Yottaa prefer I use a www domain and apply a "www" redirect?

Summary
Website URLs that use a subdomain prefix (e.g. "www.domain.com") differ in some important ways from those using URLs with only the root domain (e.g. "domain.com"). This article explains why it matters, and why we feel "www" is superior. Finally we provide a guide for revising your URLs to migrate from the root domain form to the www form, while mitigating or eliminating the impact on SEO and your users.

Activating Yottaa using a CNAME
If you want to use a CNAME to activate Yottaa, CNAME are only allowed for subdomains (like "www.domain.com") and not for root domains (like "domain.com"). 

CNAME Benefits:

Resilience
CNAMEs are inherently more flexible and more resilient in the face of various load challenges or DoS attacks:

"Root domains are aesthetically pleasing, but the nature of DNS prevents them from being a robust solution for web apps. Root domains don't allow CNAMEs, which requires hardcoding IP addresses, which in turn prevents flexibility on updates to IPs which may need to change over time to handle new load or divert denial-of-service attacks. We strongly recommend against using root domains. Use a subdomain that can be CNAME aliased... "
- Heroku [https://status.heroku.com/incident/156]

Google, Facebook, Apple, and most other major web properties (twitter being a notable exception) redirect root -> www, and with good reason.

Performance
CNAMEs add resilience not only at the DNS level but also by virtue of offloading traffic to our globally distributed infrastructure, spanning multiple cloud providers. (Plus, of course, our many other benefits -- including automated web performance optimization techniques to improve page load times and user experience under any load.)

If you think you want to switch to using "www" but you're concerned about how to effect the cutover, read on.

SEO & Branding Cutover Strategy:

First, a caution about changing URLs. It is never recommended to casually or arbitrarily change the canonical form of your URLs. You should take your URL architecture seriously. However, the cutover from root domain to "www" can be done in a way that shouldn't significantly impact your SEO rankings*.

*Disclaimer: This article is based on our experiences but we can't make any guarantees or detailed predictions about how search engines will handle changes to your URL structure. There may be a negative impact in your SERP rankings, which may or may not be permanent. Please take special care if you've invested very heavily in backlinks using the root domain form.

You'll want to manage the cutover from "domain.com" to "www.domain.com" carefully, taking into account these specific areas and rolling these changes out in this 3-step sequence:

Phase 1: Update your site (release these 4 changes simultaneously)

1.1) Links:
For all links you control, ensure you're using the "www" form. This will help performance by avoiding an unnecessary redirect and will help with SEO as well. (Using relative paths for links within the www site is fine.)

1.2) Canonical tag:
In your www site's indexable pages, include a
<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.domain.com/{path}" />
tag in the
<head>
(where {path} is substituted with the canonical, SEO-friendly, reporting parameter-free URL path to the specific page the tag appears in).

1.3) Sitemap:
Update the urls in your /sitemap.xml to use "www".

1.4) Disable your www->root redirect
Assuming you've been redirecting www.domain.com to domain.com... stop doing that.

Phase 2: Update Google Webmaster Tools
(do this right after Phase 1 above).
Make sure to add and verify the "www" version, set the "Preferred domain", and resubmit the newly-updated sitemap.xml.

Phase 3: Enable a root->www redirect
Your DNS provider likely supports this feature. Your web server should also respond to requests for the root domain with an HTTP 301 (Permanent) response. For example, for an Apache 2.2 using mod_rewrite, these 3 lines will do the trick:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^domain\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,QSA,L]

Finally, make sure any printed materials and new external links to your site are updated to avoid an extra redirect.

This will result in your site properly transitioning to the superior "www" form, and will thus allow you to proceed with Yottaa and improved performance and resilience.

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