Good SEO Doesn’t Ignore Bad Traffic
Apache’s .htaccess should be a part of the know-how that SEOs possess. It’s simple: you need to know .htaccess to have a complete SEO skill set. And, while it’s not particularly easy to learn or use, it’s core to controlling how Apache operates, if the site you are optimizing is on an Apache server. The proper configuration of Apache serves the needs of SEO, and allows you to relate directly to search engines what search engines want to see. How the server responds to requests from search engine spiders is important. Returning a 404 status code, for instance, is not ideal when it comes to how your website is indexed (or not in this case) by search engines. .htaccess provides granular control to whomever administers a particular Apache server, such that various types of traffic can be routed in any number of possible paths. And, bad traffic, can be limited, monitored, redirected, sent to a black hole (given no response so that the requesting entity has to wait until there is a timeout), blacklisted, rerouted to the Ts and Cs of the provider, sent to special pages with love notes, sent to another address (be careful here as it it will look like you are the source of this bad traffic) or with a good imagination—blasted into space.
Bombardment and the Life of a Server
WordPress Default Installation Is a Plump Target
If you use WordPress, the default installation of this wonderful, but insecure platform is a plump target for all manner of exploits. The first step one should take with WordPress is to secure it before any content is placed. Knowing a few .htaccess tricks is a good way to do this and start to understand how it all works. Many webmasters and content publishers like that WordPress makes SEO much easier to implement in some cases. But, in order to facilitate SEO in various situations, particular behaviors must take place at the server level in order to maintain the infrastructure that is used to crawl and index a site effectively. For instance, when the name of a page or the title of a page is changed, the URL is often changed, as well. Any hardcoded references to such a page will become dead links if the initial URL is not redirected to the new URL after such a change. .htaccess allows one to readily make such a redirection take place.
A plugin that makes the .htaccess files accessible through the WordPress administration panel is BPS (Bulletproof) Security Plugin.This plugin is quite useful, though you should expect a bit of a learning curve. It is a good example of how to implement secure WordPress in a number of ways, but keep in mind it is not 100% comprehensive nor should you expect to find a 100% solution. Any good security implementation will require a small amount of diligence at the very least. The same is true of serverside SEO implementations in Apache.
What You Get with Security Translates to Solid SEO
One of the best advantages of freeing up server resources, is that SEO is by nature improved if this translates to faster load times, which it almost inevitably does. .htaccess will also help insure that your site stays up and live. When a search engine spider visits a site that is down, it does not come without consequences. If a site is down repeatedly or for a long time, the site will likely lose a significant amount of search engine rank and visibility. If the site is geared toward commerce, this translates to lost dollars if it is ever a reality. We’ve come across many sites that have been hijacked or turned into farms in some manner, for instance, there are scripts that are written to take over a site’s image gallery and fill it with hundreds of links on hidden pages. If these links point to sites that search engines find worthy of banning or penalizing, this is a strong signal to search engines that your site is not focused on high quality citations and conversely offers a home or promotes sites that are not of the most desirable lot. Search engines might also see it as a form of manipulation insofar as search results, and in this case, it will come at a cost usually. Keeping your site clean, fast to load, consistently accessible at all levels and in good form is beneficial to SEO efforts, without a doubt. .htaccess is one of the most important tools to establish all of these requirements and a number of other benefits that improve a site at a global level. This is why learning .htaccess, should be a part of any serious SEO practitioner’s knowledge.
Access to the .htaccess Mindshare
To help you begin or beef up your .htaccess mindshare, we include some excellent resources below. These all give great coverage for the potential of .htaccess, but the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, so too are the needs (which largely come from the threats that abound online).
This is as comprehensive a guide to .htaccess as you will likely find online. AskApache is a fantastic resource for learning and mastering Apache and its sister code projects and applications.
If security is your objective, this site has much knowledge to draw from. There are security tips and code on here you won’t probably find elsewhere.
Another good article on how to make mod_rewrite right with the world and stop some of the wrong. Take a look at your server logs if you’ve never ventured there, and you will see the meaning of wrong.