In a sense, the type of server used for web hosting doesn’t really matter. What matters is the final outcome in terms of URL structure, page structure, content, and linking structure. However, Linux servers have a variety of benefits over most other web hosting servers in terms of how easy it is to create the proper outcome. What Really Matters for SEO As a website owner, what you are really looking to accomplish is a clean structure for the following: ● URL structure - Avoid unnecessary parameters and subfolders, and keep the length as short as possible while still being descriptive of the page. This will result in a clean and simple URL structure. ● Linking structure - The navigation for the site should be reasonably comprehensive, ideally without exceeding 100 links per page, including navigation. Additionally, the anchor text for the links should be descriptive of the page they point to. ● Page structure - There should be one H1 per page, and it should be the first heading tag on the page. Every heading tag should be specific to the page it’s on. ● Content - As an approximate guideline, articles should preferably be 500 or more words, while non-article pages can be as short as 200 words. Generally, longer is better. Not all platforms manage to make it easy to put these guidelines into place. The nice thing about Linux servers is that there are lots of different platforms that you can choose from to meet your needs. While a good SEO company can make almost any platform work to the best of its capabilities, Linux servers offer a variety of good open-source platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, all of which are very capable of implementing all of the above strategies. Even if you would like to build something new without the use of a pre-existing open-source CMS, you can use Ruby on Rails to create your own site. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg; there are lots of other smaller and lesser-known options for creating your site in a Linux server environment. Even nicer, most of the available options are free or inexpensive. Not All Servers Are Equal The most common competing server is a Microsoft IIS server. These servers are generally limited to, or custom-designed for, .NET and SharePoint-based websites. In some cases, IIS servers can run an open-source CMS like WordPress, but it is generally not straightforward to do so. The problem is that, while newer and more expensive versions of SharePoint generally support a lot of these necessary SEO features, the older versions tend not to. Have you seen the sites that have /Pages/default.aspx added to their home page URL? That’s an inherent limitation of many SharePoint implementations. Generally, it is not impossible to get the same necessary SEO features on an IIS server, but it certainly tends to be more expensive and more difficult. In certain cases, this makes IIS a valid choice only for Enterprise-level website and content creators. The Often-Overlooked Redirect Many SharePoint sites do not have the ability to easily redirect or rewrite URLs in an SEO-friendly way. Specifically, there are instances when you want the user to see one URL even when the back end uses a different one. The home page is a good example of that. Lots of SharePoint sites are forced to have www.domain.com/Pages/default.aspx as their home page. Using rewrites, something that is easy to do through the .htaccess file on Linux servers, you can let the user stay on www.domain.com, but load the /Pages/default.aspx in the back end, allowing for clean URLs. Some CMS platforms, like WordPress, do a lot of this for you automatically. Even URL-to-URL redirects can be tricky without the .htaccess file available on Linux servers. In order to be a valid redirect for SEO purposes, the redirect must return a code of 301 Permanently Redirected. Using the [R=301] tag in .htaccess, this is easy to do. With many versions of SharePoint, you have to find and install a plug-in just to accomplish a simple redirect. The plug-in installation process for SharePoint is much more manual than most of the open-source CMS options. Good Linux Server CMS Options Through Linux servers, you can choose one of many CMS platforms, each with their own benefits and disadvantages. Here are some of the more popular ones: ● WordPress - With some simple changes to the settings, particularly the Permalink settings, and with the help of a good SEO plugin like Yoast or All-In-One SEO, all of the critical SEO items can be taken care of by even the newest of webmasters. With some additional training and work, WordPress can also be altered to be more than just a blog. ● Drupal - While Drupal does take considerably more work to keep it SEO-friendly, it does offer more flexibility than WordPress in creating custom sites, and all of the needed SEO capabilities are there. ● Joomla - It is less popular than Drupal for almost every application except for eCommerce, but it has very similar capabilities. The initial installation can be very tricky, but otherwise, it is able to use a number of the important features of a Linux server, especially the .htaccess file. ● Ruby on Rails - RoR is not actually a CMS, but with some coding training, new sites can be built to do nearly anything you want. This is for those who prefer a Linux server setup, but still want to program their custom website from the ground up. Learn More about SEO There is plenty more to learn about SEO, and there are plenty of places to learn it. As one of the top SEO companies in Atlanta, Everspark Interactive regularly offers SEO education and services. There are also many other places to learn more through SEO-focused blogs, such as SEO Book. If you are a beginner just getting into SEO, SEOMoz.org has one of the better beginner’s guides out there. The important thing is to never stop learning and never stop asking questions.