Part II - .HTACCESS - Advanced SEO Tips For Your Exponent CMS Website
In Part II of my Advanced SEO Tips for Exponent CMS websites, I'll discuss how you can utilize your .htaccess file to practice better SEO.
Your .htaccess file, which also ships in your Exponent CMS install, is used to override the Apache or PHP configuration files on your web server.
The .htaccess file can be pulled down from your Exponent site's public_html directory much like the robots.txt, which I discussed in Part I of this advanced series file can through FTP or cPanel/WHM. The one catch here is if you're trying to pull it down from cPanel/WHM, you must check the box that allows you to see hidden files (dotfiles) in your directories.
For SEOs who are optimizing Exponent CMS sites, there are two primary modifications that they can make to the file in order to make their Exponent CMS sites more SEO friendly.
Forcing a Preferred Domain URL
The first .htaccess modification you can make to optimize your website for SEO is to force a www. or a non-www. domain URL structure. This prohibits the possibility of two identical pages being indexed by the search engines with a www. and a non-www. version of the same website (the dreaded duplicate content issue!)
In the latest releases of Exponent CMS that support canonical URLs, this isn't such a big deal (so long as you're defining the canonical URL), but in previous versions of Exponent CMS before 2.2.0, you'll want to make sure you put this modification in place.
All you need to do is pull down your .htaccess file, uncomment out the example rule you want to follow, fill in the proper domain name, save, and re-push your file to the live server:
During a website redesign project, one of the most important items to cross off the go-live check list (for the SEO minded at least) is to ensure you have any 301 redirects in place for URLs that have been indexed by the search engines.
Often times when a website is moved from one CMS platform to another, or undergoes an SEO overhaul, the URLs of each web page are updated.
When this happens, SEOs want to ensure that every URL that's been indexed by the search engines are permanently (301) redirected to their new URLs so the website does not lose any of their current organic rankings, nor deter potential customers who have found the website via organic search and landed on a “Page Not Found” (404 error) because the URL they landed on wasn't properly redirected.
Plotting out 301 Redirects is relatively simple in the .htaccess file. All you need to do is pull it down from your public_html directory and at the bottom of your .htaccess file start adding your 301 Redirect rules, which would look as such:
These two .htaccess modifications are critical for websites undergoing SEO programs, particularly when that site is going through a redesign.
About the Author
This blog post was written by Chris J. Everett, a small business SEO consultant based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Chris has used Exponent CMS extensively over the past 5 years and writes about topics related to the SEO friendliness of the system.
To learn more about Chris, connect with him on Google+.