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HTML canonical / 301 redirect confusion

I have a website www.acesestimating.com.
I want acesestimating.com to forward to www.acesestimating.com
To address this I added the following to my .htaccess file:

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

It appears to work... typing either address leads to www...

I'm concerned about duplicate content now... It appears that:

acesestimating.com/Free-Trial
www.acesestimating.com/Free-Trial
www.acesestimating.com/Free-Trial.php

can be interpreted as duplicate pages where there is only one physical page.  In the header section of Free-Trial.php I added:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.acesestimating.com/Free-Trial" />

Yet when testing using various sites they'll suggest that the canonical tag doesn't exist or isn't correct...

Please help.
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classnet
Asked:
classnet
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1 Solution
 
COBOLdinosaurCommented:
Actually you don't need the canonical.  The 301 on the re-direct tells the search engines that you are doing a permanent re-direct.  They no it is not duplicate content, and over time they will drop the pages without the www from search results and only return the www version.  The 301 is the method recommended by Google and will never result in the pages looking like duplicate content as long as you do not put both in a sitemap.

Cd&
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classnetAuthor Commented:
COBOLdinosaur... so you think that, as long as the sitemap doesn't list any pages twice that I shouldn't be negatively impacted via SEO?
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COBOLdinosaurCommented:
Right.  As long as the 301 re-direct works there is no problem.  When the pages are crawled the crawler gets a 301 response and then gets the page where they have been re-directed. The crawler then saves the new address in its data and when it is process on the indexing server the index gets updated.  Over time the old links get dropped from the index; replaced by the updated information, but if a crawler runs across an old version of the link on another site, the re-direct still gets it to the newest version.  The crawler never sees the old page because it has been re-directed, so there is no duplicate page.

Cd&
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classnetAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the clarification
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