By Chris J. Everett, Principal & Founder
Captivate Search Marketing
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
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 nonwww. version of the same website (the dreaded duplicate content issue!)
In the latest releases of
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, you will
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.