Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Website vs Web Site

When I'm grading student assignments for our Search Engine Optimization courses, I often come across alternative spellings. Some are regionally based, such as "optimization" versus "optimisation". But today I want to comment on "website" versus "web site" which I'm seeing a lot of confusion over.

There are conflicting arguments about this, but in academic circles, the correct version is considered "web site" as two words in support of W3 standards. Sites such as the Chicago Manual of Style Online insist that the two word version is correct formal usage. Then again, a search for "web site" on Wikipedia.org redirects to their definition article for "website". Dictionary.com also suggest "website" is the most commonly used form as it has developed in usage:
Usage Note: The transition from World Wide Web site to Web site to website as a single uncapitalized word mirrors the development of other technological expressions which have tended to take unhyphenated forms as they become more familiar. Thus email is gaining ground over the forms E-mail and e-mail, especially in texts that are more technologically oriented.
But perform a Google search for both versions and you’ll see that web site is much more common than website.

Personally, I believe you should always use the two-word version in your site, particularly in your Title and Description tags, because search engines won’t be able to distinguish the two words if you bunch them together as "website" and you might not capture as many searchers. If you use "website", you might also isolate pedantic readers who feel "web site" is the correct spelling. Consistency is key, no matter which version you decide to use.

So readers: which version do you prefer? Tell us via comments.

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3 Comments:

At 7:37 AM , Shaun said...

Interesting arguement...you say consistency is key - would you expand? Why not hedge your bets on specific pages etc ie breaking it down on a page by page basis rather than by site (or have i misunderstood?)

PS Love the idea of the site.

Bookmarked.

 
At 4:52 PM , Anonymous said...

I always use web site but I didn't realize there was such a disagreement on usage! Interesting. I wonder if things will be different in a year or two.

 
At 12:52 AM , Anonymous said...

I always use 'website' as a noun to refer to a single location or address on the web; ie my website is such and such.

Personally I feel the term 'web site' with two words (literally 'site on the web') is old fashioned now that it has become well established.

But that's just my opinion! ;)

 

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