I began my career in SEO as a marketing student, not a programmer. During the past few months, however, I feel like I’ve jumped headfirst into the world of HTML, CSS, and PHP and have learned quite a bit. Only recently did I realize I may not be the great man I’ve always thought as I starting coding a .htaccess file.
For those like me who haven’t always been coders, adjusting a site’s .htaccess file is like doing a bit of open heart surgery with no training. It can be a scary testament to one’s SEO day or even career. The file is essentially a gateway to an entire site – it provides the ability to configure and customize a site. But unlike my forgiving friend HTML, one little mistake in one’s coding in a .htaccess file could result in an entire website flipping offline.
htaccess and SEO
The .htaccess file is extremelly useful in the world of SEO and usability for a couple of reasons. First, it allows users to configure a custom 404 error page to appear on the site if a wrong URL is accessed. This is useful in helping to guide your site visitors to a proper page within your site. Second, the file allows users to implement redirects, in the form of 301 and 302 redirects. Redirects are an SEO’s greatest ally. This is useful if your site has recently changed its URL structure, or some URL’s have been replaced. Redirects provide link value from the previous pages ensuring proper optimization. Another useful purpose for .htaccess is the ability to do a mod rewrite. This is essentially a way to rewrite long and nasty URL’s into short, sweet, and search engine friendly URL’s.
I’ve been scouring the web looking for a useful tool to help me when dealing with a site’s .htaccess and found a neat creator. This htaccess generator tool helps users enact rewrites, redirects, and many other useful purposes for .htaccess. Plus it will help prevent a complete web site melt down due to a small coding error. So even if you aren’t a great programmer and coder, you no longer have an excuse to update your .htaccess file to aid your site’s usability and SEO.