Sorry to resurrect this issue, but I've spent a few days reading extensively on "Rel=canonical" without resolving my issues.
I've taken on an SEO project for a client whos website is seriously underperforming in search. I am working on the on- and off-page factors, and TBH there is lots of scope there, very few backlinks ( as far as I could establish without the trusty Yahoo SiteExplorer - any recommendations for a good alternative also appreciated... ), and a lot of the targetted terms and phrases being very sparsely used. So, I'm optimistic that the techniques I've used successfully in the past will work here.
My issue is that my starting point is that the site, an opticians, has a URL like joebloggseyecentre.com. OK, so no points for having the primary keyword in the URL, but there are options there, if needed. The difficulty is that in the (very low) SERPs the site appears, it does so without the 'www.' prefix. As far as I can tell, this is because the most significant link they have is from Golden Pages, and it doesn't have the 'www'.
I had understood from what I'd read thus far was that either by design or by default, some or all sites have two iterations, one with, and one without the www "subdomain". But, I had assumed that this meant that all of the site pages must therefore exist in two seperate locations on the server. You locate the one you don't want to focus on, and insert a 'rel=canonical' on each page, pointing to it's counterpart.
It may be that the access I have is limited. When I connect to the site I see five folders - 'primary, 'etc', 'logs', 'stats' and 'www'. I notice the icons for all except 'primary' are different, so check the Directory info and find:
dr-x--x--- 3 bloggs003 web 4096 Jan 12 2010 .
dr-x--x--- 3 bloggs003 web 4096 Jan 12 2010 ..
lrwxrwxrwx 1 bloggs003 web 13 Jan 12 2010 etc -> ./primary/etc
lrwxrwxrwx 1 bloggs003 web 14 Jan 12 2010 logs -> ./primary/logs
dr-x--x--x 7 bloggs003 web 4096 Jan 12 2010 primary
lrwxrwxrwx 1 bloggs003 web 15 Jan 12 2010 stats -> ./primary/stats
lrwxrwxrwx 1 bloggs003 web 13 Jan 12 2010 www -> ./primary/www
From long-ago days as a Unix Admin I recognize the 'soft links', and concentrate on the 'primary' directory, which has subdirectories for 'etc', 'logs', 'stats' and 'www' as expected. I upload the page changes to the /primary/www directory, then check and confirm that the new files are also in the linked /www directory. Also check both online versions in the browser, and both have successfully changed.
So, from what I can ascertain, I only have one set of files to work with.
When I signed up for GWT, I added both www and non-www versions of the site. The non-www was accepted straight away, but the www version took a day or two. Bing WT seems to only accept the 'www' version, and is still showing 'pending' after 3 days.
I would appreciate if someone could explain how, in this scenario, there can appear to be two versions of the pages, and also how to reconcile this with Google and Bing.
I have started on the link-building campaign, and have been using the 'www' version, as I had intended to canonicalize this, but given that I only see one physical ( non-unix-linked ) version of each page, may not be able to do this, and possibly should focus on the 'non-www' URL in the process of acquiring backlinks. As always, all help will be gratefully appreciated.