File Time Attributes and Their Benefits

Files on the file system have an array of attributes, many of which are related to time. Time is not only important for tracking information about the file, but also for SEO purposes and synchronization. Search engines want to know what files in your site are new and which files previously existed, but have changed. They compare content from past snapshot as well as check the time attributes. These can be modified dynamically to enhance the appearance of a changing website.

File Access Time is the time the file was last accessed. Whenever it is read to be handed ff, copied, or simply checked, the atime value is updated. The function that updates the atime can be disabled, since it is not always a valuable attribute, so the PHP Programmer must check that this attribute is working before using it for other systems.

File Change Time is when the ownership and permissions of a file were last changed. This differs from the following File Modified Time, in that the content of the file is not changed. A file that is owned by root may be changed to WWW ownership, and the file ctime would be updated as well. When programming systems that operate and work with ownership changes on a rgular basis, knowing when a file was chmoded is important.

File Modified Time is the time the file content was changed. This occurs when a PHP Programmer makes a revision, addition, or deletion to the file content. Simply adding or deleting a single character in the content will affect the mtime value. Of all the file time attributes, mtime values are probably the most frequently used and therefore most valuable file time attribute.

File Time Attributes can apply to directories as well, since directories are accessed, modified, and the ownership and permissions can be updated through time. In combination of file and directory time attributes, file synchronization programs can become extremely efficient. Whether the file sync tool is a PHP Program or a standalone third party application, file time attributes allow them to operate more efficiently. Rather than copying every single directory and file to the backup location, file time attributes are used to backup and synchronize only the directories and files that have been modified since the last backup. Where some directories may contain Gigabytes of data, only mere Megabytes or Kilobytes may be necessary if little changes has occured since the last backup.

In regards to search engines, the ctime and mtime values can be retrieved through standard web interactions.  Most web servers will divulge simple information such as file time attributes. Search engines look for changes and enhancements to websites as a sign of authority. If your site has grown in volume, and/or your previous content has been updated, the search engines want to know. They interpret these changes as improvements of informational content, which means your website is staying up to date and adding emerging topics.

A website that continually grows in volume is a strong indication that it is adding valuable information that was either not available before, or was still being defined. Search engine optimization includes the process of developing an authoritative status with search engines. In order that a website gain the status of authority (for the keywords the site/pages are optimized with), the site must cotinually show expansion. Consider an authoritative website as an encyclopedia that must always grow since new information is constantly available by virtue of time alone.

As time passes, existing content typically requires correction and enhancement to align it with the facts that are presented through time. There are often concepts that become more clear as time passes, which may either nullify or misalign previous pages with the facts. Those pages remain at the same location in you site, and likely retain a majority of the original content, but simply acquire textual and grammatical corrections, small deletions, and various additions to the informational content.

As search engine optimization mandates change and growth, search engines may use the file attributes to determine where change has occurred in your website, and on which dates compared to their last investigation. Other file attributes may be combined such as the file size attribute, to determine if the modified file increased or decreased in size, or remained the same. This obviously saves a tremendous amount of work and bandwidth, which are effectively the same to search engines. This does not mean that search engines ignore the actual content, as they use these methods to investigate what changes have occurred to speed their passage to new content, which will be indexed and stored in their massive engine brains for the rest of the world, to explore.

As search engine optimization becomes better understood by businesses and webmasters, the concepts of file time attributes combined with the power of PHP Programming and PHP Automation become better understood as well. As websites grow to colossal sizes with huge MySQL Database back ends, the task of managing file time attributes and manipulating content becomes a more daunting process, requiring automation and intelligent dynamic PHP Programming.

For more information and consultation about SEO Services contact The PHP Kemist at 801.253.2564

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