Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The battle with SEO

So the battle continues with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Why? Because it is a constant, bloody, nasty, frustrating, ambiguous battle. I have learned a ton in the past 2 months about how to rank high in search engines but actually seeing the results is a different story.

There are many tutorials online about SEO but uderstanding SEO involves more than just tutorials. It requires staying current with Search Engine algorithms and best practices. I have learned what to avoid and what to implement.

Recently, I learned about mod_rewrite which rewrites your URL's in a search engine friendly format. I had no idea that search engine bots ignore everything past the '?' indicating url variables. To get around this, mod_rewrite was invented. Basically if I had a url like "http://www.mysite.com/index.php?cat=productcat&title=prodcuttitle&id=123" mod_rewrite would rewrite the url to "http://www.mysite.com/productcat/producttitle/123". Big deal right? Actually, it is a big deal. This not only improves security but it also makes search engines happy. I'm not entirely sure why, but it does. Basically, the search engine bots are able to navigate your entire site and index it all. That is very desireable if you want to show up high (top 5) on search engines.

How does it work? Well, you need Apache server. It is an Apache module and you have to enable it. Most hosting services will have this available. Second, you need to write your rules using REGEX expressions (Regular Expressions). That can be a little challenging but there are some trusty tutorials out there. This is a must have for SEO today. I will be implementing this shortly on OneStopGPS.com.

For a more in-depth look at Mod_Rewrite, check out this great article/tutorial. It will do wonders for you... possibly change your life!

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