In the last article I discussed basic website structure. Once the basic website structure of your site is set up, you can use several other advanced structural techniques to optimize your site for SEO purposes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but in addition to having your content indexed, you may want to tell search engines not to index a particular page. A robots.txt file tells search engines what they can and cannot do. This file can also provide a way to prevent copyright infringement as well as preventing search engines from consuming too much of your server’s bandwidth.
Another example of advanced structure is the nofollow command. Nofollow instructs tells search engines that they should not follow a particular link-essentially telling them not to view it in a way that would lend it significance in determining ranking. Remember, search engines count links from your website to other sites as a vote for SEO purposes. Adding nofollow tells them not to give the link credit. A reason you may want to do this would be to prevent your site from “bleeding” its SEO value to another site.
A second example of advanced site structure is in the way you layout your url’s. URL’s should be structured in an organized way in order to create a user friendly navigation system. Search engines prefer url’s that are simple and that include keywords describing the destination content. These are often referred to as SEO friendly urls.
A third advanced structure example is the .htaccess file. A .htaccess file is the Apache Webserver’s configuration file. It is a text file that can accomplish a large array of functions which help you protect your site from content stealing robots. It is also helpful in that it can be used to dynamically rewrite poorly formed urls that shopping carts and some blog software generate.
Finally some of the most important advanced structural commands include using the mod_rewrite to rewrite URLs, redirecting non-www traffic to your www domain and using 301 redirects whenever you change or redesign your website. All of these commands give you the procedures to make sure that search engines recognize your site and index it correctly.
Many of these techniques are overlooked by website providers. One of the most common and detrimental mistakes I see when I evaluate a website is a lack of a permanent redirect. What this means is that when you visit http://yourwebsite.com and http://www.yourwebsite.com that they appear as two distinct locations in search engines. It means your SEO efforts are instantly cut in half because google only credits the www site with www links and the non www site with non www links. One way you can check your site to see if this is an issue for you is to use HubSpot’s free Website Grader tool.
Thanks for taking the time to learn your craft. In my next article I’ll discuss content creation. Please comment and REMEMBER: There are NO stupid questions!