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SEO Website Audit

File Names and SEO

May 23, 2007
By

Hi Jill,

 

I have been getting your newsletter since 5/02 & try to use all your tips. I
have a question that I have never seen addressed & it may be because it’s
not important.

 

Does what you name a page (not the “Title” but the file name) matter to
search engines when they crawl a site?

 

In other words, I can name a page without underscores like this:

 

genuinebranditems.html

 

…or use underscores like this:

 

genuine_brand_items.html

 

My real question is do the underscores have an impact on how the spider
crawls the site or are long file names better? I’m thinking it doesn’t
matter but would like to be sure. I’ve been trying to name my pages
(filename & title) with a relevant keyword but sometimes it’s difficult.


Also does a file name have any impact with ranking at all?

 

Thanks!

Lola

 

++Jill’s Response++

 

Hi Lola,

 

File names in general don’t have much effect on rankings, contrary to what
many people think. However, if you do want to use keywords in them, you’d
want to use a dash, not an underscore.  Underscores are treated as a
character and not a space, and therefore the words in your file name would
not be parsed (read separately) by the search engines if they were to try to
read them.  (Note for readers: Please don’t write me and say that Google
highlights words separated by an underscore in the search results, so they
must parse them.  Highlighting is highlighting and not the same thing as
actually parsing the words.)

 

We have lots of previous articles on this topic in the newsletter archive, on the forum,
and in the SEO FAQ.  Also, I plan to do an updated article on this topic as soon as I have the chance because this question is one that is asked at least 3 times a day at the forum!

 

Whatever you do, don’t change your existing file names just to add a keyword
phrase, because that would simply cause more problems than it would solve.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Jill

 
 
Post Comment

 Brent Crouch said:
Unfortunately, I've already built a site and used underscores in my file names. Is it worth renaming all the pages with hyphens and then redirecting the old page names to the new ones?
 Jill said:
No it's not a problem at all.
 Zims!! said:
what is SE effect ? if i am renaming whole websites pages (all are indexed by SE) and just gives 301 redirection to homepage for not found link (400 Error).

is there any problem aries like:

Content spamming, ranking down or any other problem ?
 Jill said:
Zims, as the article mentions, it's not a good idea to rename all your pages unless you really have to.
 Brent Hathaway said:
I disagree with file names not having an impact, at least as of 1/09. A quick search on google for "refrigerator deals" shows top results with keywords in the filenames.
 Jill Whalen said:
@Brent Hathaway, don't you think that the people who bought those domains have also optimized their websites for the phrases within them?
 Arpit Kothari said:
hi there, my questions is : what is the important name of related to home page file name like default.html or index.html or homepage.html or home.html can you pls. guide me ASAP.. Thanks and Glad to meet you..
 Jill said:
It's not important. You can name it whatever you'd like.
 makaee said:
Hi,
For universal search does the file name matters? I heard image/video file name has to be 'brand-categoryName-subCategoryName-modelNumber-size'. Is it the correct way to name the image file? some times the file name become too lengthy. Please advice.

Regards
 Jill Whalen said:
Makee, I don't know but there's a thread on our forum about image search where your question would be more on topic.

Click on my name to get to the forum.