How To Prepare A .htaccess File For SEO PurposesThere are a good chance that you are wondering what the topic of SEO has to do with the .htaccess file.
In fact, it plays quite an important role in the way your website is ranked by the search engines. The problem is that few people are aware of its importance and it could be affecting the ranking of your website right at this moment.
What Is A .htaccess File?
According to Wikipedia, a .htaccess file is "the default name of a directory-level configuration file that allows for decentralized management of web server configuration." If you're not a computer whiz (and I'm not), such a definition is simply impossible to understand. So putting aside all the computer programming terminology, a .htaccess file is a small file which is placed within a website to perform a number of functions.
In this article, we will talk about 2 of these functions (there are many others) because they are the only ones related to SEO. I will also show you how to write the .htaccess file so that you use your .htaccess file for maximum SEO effect.
A .htaccess file can be used to allow and block users by domain or IP address. The reason why you would want to do such a thing is because there are many online tools which people use to grab their competitor's keywords. This will then allow them to target your keywords and potentially push you down the search rankings. For example, one such tool is SpyFu. They literally allow you to spy on your competitors. If you want stop such tools from being used on your website by your competitors, then simply structure your .htaccess file like the example at the bottom of this article.
If you did a search on Google and looked through the search results, you will find that some websites are indexed with http://www. in front of them and others without it. If you searched a bit deeper, you will probably find some websites indexed twice, once with the http://www. in front of them and others without it. Why is this the case?
This is due to backlinks being built to both the http://www. and the non-www. but the search engine treats them as separate websites. This means that you are creating links to 2 separate websites instead of just one. As a result, any SEO benefit is getting divided up between 2 websites when they could helping just one and getting much better results. In order to avoid such a problem, you have to redirect one URL to the other. It is best to redirect the URL with the least amount of backlinks to the one with the most amount of backlinks.
.htaccess File Example
Below is the .htaccess file I use for the great majority of my websites. It blocks access to the biggest and well-known spying tools on the Web as well as redirects a non-www. URL to a http://www. URL. Modify the code slightly by replacing "yourdomain" with your URL.
Simply copy the code, paste it in a notepad file and then save it as .htaccess. Then upload it using ftp or other means to your website.
Options +FollowSymLinks RewriteEngine on
It's amazing how a little bit of code can make a big difference to your SEO efforts.
Just in case you're wondering, this is the only time that I will make reference to programming code when talking about SEO. The role of the .htaccess file was too important to overlook and not share with my readers.
About the Author:
Martin Sejas is a leading SEO consultant based in Sydney with vast experience and knowledge on how to boost website rankings. Register for a free consultation.