Few Days of Web Server Issues

in General, SEO/SEM by

Ok, after a few days of Web server issues, I think the blog is back up and running. It was totally my fault and this problem illustrates the importance of getting your .htaccess file correct.

If you are not a web developer OR you are not concerned with your web site’s search engine rankings, you will probably enjoy the rest of this post about as much as watching grass grow.

When I first noticed the server problems, I was as confused as Paris Hilton in a 4th grade math class. “What is going on”, I wondered (sidenote – those were not my exact words. As Mark Twain said, “Under certain trying circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer”).

So, being a card carrying member of the tin foil hat club, I naturally feared the worst. I checked all the usual suspects responsible for sites crashing – hackers, a sudden onslaught of traffic (aka DOS), etc. Nope, nothing so sinister as that.

Then, it hit me like a visit from my inlaws. I remembered that I recently did some URL rewriting through the wonderful .htaccess file. Basically, I was using Redirect 301 to redirect old URLs to the new ones. Like a doofus, I created the .htaccess file, uploaded it and then left town for a few days without checking to make sure all was well with what I had just done.

So, I quickly checked the .htaccess file line-by-line. Bingo – I had written ONE LINE incorrectly. In fact, ONE component of that one line was out of place. Here is what I had written:
Redirect /blog/2007/02/clear-your-web-browser-cache/ 301 http://crystalcoasttech.com/blog/clear-your-web-browser-cache/

However, it should have been written like this:
Redirect 301 /blog/2007/02/clear-your-web-browser-cache/ http://crystalcoasttech.com/blog/clear-your-web-browser-cache/
Notice the placement of “301” in both examples. D’oh. Something so small as that and yet it brought the entire blog to a screeching halt. Let this be a lesson:

  1. Make sure to write your code in the correct format.
  2. After you upload new code to your site, make sure you check everything for errors.

If I would have followed either one of those rules, I would not have had these problems. One of the main purposes of using a .htaccess file is to help preserve search engine rankings. However, by not having my .htaccess file written correctly, I actually did more harm than good.

EDIT 8/10/07 – I really do know how to write .htaccess files. I started each line with “Redirect 301” and then I was pasting the URL to be redirected. The problem was that I accidentally pasted the URL between “Redirect” and “301”. D’oh.

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