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Do Keywords In Url Matter?


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89 replies to this topic

#16 mopacfan

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 09:30 AM

I think most everyone has expressed a valid argument on the whole regarding SEO. I believe that each process is mearly a small piece of the overall puzzle. No one piece can paint the whole picture. As more and more pieces are put together, the image becomes clear. I believe that having key words in the url is just as relevant as ensuring that title tags are key word specific or that the keyword density of the page is optimized. There is no panacea, but each element brings a greater chance of having your page/site apearing near the top of the organic search results.

Michael

#17 ChrisB

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 09:09 AM

I'm suprised at people who downplay the importance of keywords in a URL. Are you saying that no keywords is better than having keywords?

Come on. Even if you think the bonus is slight you have to admit that there is a bonus and thus it is something that should be pursued.

As for keyword rich domains....

What I tell people is that it depends on the goals for your site.

For instance lets say your site is about "Sports" and you cover a wide variety of information on dozens of sports. Your site probably has 3000 pages all told. Do you need a keyword rich domain?

No. You've likely made a decision to promote your site by creating large amounts of content and getting that content ranked highly. As such having your home page ranked highly is less important. Also due to the domination of the "sports" keyword by large media corporations your chance of getting to the top is slim. So, since you can always put keywords in your directories and filenames, which you should, having a keyword rich domain isn't as important.

So in general the broader your site's subject the less need you'll have for a keyword rich domain. Or if you simply do not plan on optimizing the homepage the less need you'll have for a keyword rich domain. Of course you never truly "need" one -- but they can and do help and if you're neck and neck with a competitor your keyword rich domain might give you the edge.

More importantly though is to have keywords in your site's name (since that will be the text that most people use to link to you -- and it'll be in your title tags of course). Also your site's name should mimic your domain or many directory editors might see it as spam. So in many cases having a keyword rich domain comes from a desire to have a keyword rich site name.

As for keyword rich URLs.

Anyone who tells you that you should use http://www.example.com/19807/ instead of http://www.example.com/keyword/ doesn't know what they're talking about. Obviously if you are building a site from scratch and have the technical ability to give every page a meaningful URL then do it. Not only will it help, slightly or not, with search engines. But it is much easier for users to remember meaningful, rather than arbitrary, identifiers.

Using meaningful identifiers on internal page link anchor text (instead of "next" or "more") and in your URLs is something that is easy, and very beneficial when you are building your site. Even if you're only doing it for the benefit of your users.

#18 webmama

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 10:11 AM

I am one of the biggest proponents of using keywords in directory and filenames. I have seen examples with long-term clients of the positive effects of using one targeted keyphrase in the file name that exactly reflects the content on the page.

Example: www.amerifee.com/dental-financing/index.asp
#1 and #2 results on Google for 'dental financing' www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&q=dental+financing

Clients who change from the keyword based file naming system to a more generic system of numbers and letters (usually due to a technology change) see negative ranking effects as recently happened with Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Of course this can backfire and has with people taking this advice and putting a ridiculous number of words with hypens in the directory name and file name. This abuse will come back to haunt us as the search algorithms decide to ignore URLs with lots of hypens.

And teaching these kinds of tactics can come back to haunt us personally. Someone has now taken my advice to heart and used the word 'webmama' in their filename to attempt to get listed under my searches for my brand. Flattering but unappreciated. To their credit I did ask them to take this doorway page down and they did last night.

#19 Scottie

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 04:11 PM

I agree. (nice pic, Barbara! :rolleyes:)

While I wouldn't buy a keyword-loaded domain name, I do name files with keywords in mind. It doesn't cost anything and it describes the page. Everyone is happy.

But I don't think it gives enough of an edge to go back and rename all the files I created in the past in order to give them keyword-based filenames. Mostly, because I don't have to!

If the ranking on those sites were to slip, I might consider going back and going to the trouble of renaming the files and setting up 301 redirects from all the old file names to the new ones. But so far, I haven't had to because other things (like lots of great content, growing inbound links) keep them at the top of the serps.

#20 Sharon & Roy

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 09:03 PM

I am one of the biggest proponents of using keywords in directory and filenames. I have seen examples with long-term clients of the positive effects of using one targeted keyphrase in the file name that exactly reflects the content on the page.


Hi Barbara,

We couldn't agree with you more!



Hey Barbara, you even outrank ...

dentalfinancing.com (#4)

... And ...

dental-financing.com (#22)

Kudos!

So, Barbara, do you attribute your high rankings more to the Link Reputation (keywords in Backward Links) of the page or the actual weight given for the keywords in the file name, directory and/or URL?

Your Friends,

Sharon & Roy

#21 compar

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 09:10 PM

Think about it, guys...

Who buys keyword-rich domain names?  People who know at least a little bit about SEO.  (Or people who think they do.) 

Jill,

I can't agree with that claim at all. Some of my most internet ingnorant customers are the ones who want to have multiple domains with different versions of their keywords. They don't even know what a keyword is, but have the idea that people are going to find them on the basis of their domain names.

I have a hell of a time trying to explain the real world and talk them out of this and sometimes they insist I register 6 differnet domains for them. And it isn't until a year later when they come up for renewal that I finally convince them to drop them.

#22 compar

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 09:23 PM

..... but you could not get me to click on a link the had 5 hyphens in it regardless of how well it matched my search query.

I only have one question. Why? I can't see any logic in that other than personal prejudice?

If an URL says www.this-is-exactly-what-you-are -looking-for.com why in the world would you not click on it. It certainly is far more descriptive and represents far more effort to appeal to your area of need or interest than www.thisisexactlywhatyouarelooking for.com.

I find your position incomprehensible?????

Edited by compar, 03 September 2003 - 09:29 PM.


#23 Jill

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 09:41 PM

I can't agree with that claim at all. Some of my most internet ingnorant customers are the ones who want to have multiple domains with different versions of their keywords. They don't even know what a keyword is, but have the idea that people are going to find them on the basis of their domain names.


Yes, that's very true, and I agree.

I should have said those keyword-rich domains that rank highly, have also been optimized!

Jill

#24 SearchEngineZ

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 10:16 PM

If an URL says www.this-is-exactly-what-you-are -looking-for.com why in the world would you not click on it.

Most experienced searchers (and, with time, more and more of the online population are becoming skilled at searching) know that the majority of more-than-one-hyphen domain names that do well in the SERPs are sites out to make a quick buck, and generally of no use.

It's the same when someone asks me why they should buy a .com.au domain name, I explain that one day web searchers will realise that they are far more likely to be sites worth visiting, because you need to be a legit business to buy one.

#25 mcanerin

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 01:59 PM

I agree with SearchEngineZ,

It does help you to look like you are on topic, but it does not help you if you look desperate.

You should try to avoid having a hyphen in your domain for the simple reason that many people type in URLs by memory and usually never remember hyphens, which can send them to your competitors site. And tell me that you've never sat down and asked yourself something like, "Goldfish. I wonder if there is a site about that?" And proceeded to type in www.goldfish.com instead of going to a search engine. Did you ever type in a hyphen?

But that's just a practical reason - I personally have no problem with a single hyphen URL, but when I see www.hey-look-at-me-im-great.com I stay away. I've gone to those in the past and they have been invariably spam and garbage. I learn slowly, but I DO learn :hmm:

This is different from hyphens in the page names though. I'll often accept 2 or 3 hyphens here without blinking. Basically, if it looks like you may have legitimately named a file on your computer like "Annual General Meeting 2003.doc", then I would consider it perfectly acceptable to have a webpage called "annual-general-meeting-2003.htm". So you have a bit more breathing room here.

And yes, it is prejudiced. Yes, there may be some good sites out there with bad names that will never have me as a visitor. But it's just not worth it to dig through all the garbage hoping for the one or two gems. Life is short.

Prejudice is an intellectual shortcut, with all the advantages and disadvantages that come with that. The disadvantages center around the fact that there is no or little thought involved, it's basically pattern recognition, and therefore can be tricked, abused, or misled.

It's particularly bad when it's overly broad. To say, "Males are likely to hurt me" is overly broad and therefore inaccurate. To say "Males with a knife in their hand coming towards me in a darkened area are likely to hurt me" will probably save your life. It would be stupid to naively think that this guy might be nice. He might be, but you would be stupid to think it given the facts available. If your ancestors thought like that, they wouldn't have survived wild animals, weather conditions, and their fellow humans long enough to BE your ancestors...

The advantages are that you can make a decision based on previous experience quickly without the need to stop and "reinvent the wheel," or to go gather more information. With the thousands of decisions you have to make everyday, it would be impossible to function if you did not apply pattern recognition. The key is to make sure your pattern recognition is not overly broad, is based on facts and observation, and is useful. Sure, you may be wrong sometimes, but it's better than sitting in a corner wimpering from overload and confusion. When you find out you are wrong, tighten up your criteria for the next time.

Is it overly broad to think that www.this-is-exactly-what-you-are -looking-for.com is probably spam? Personally, I don't think so, based on my experiences. I could be wrong. But in this case what harm would there be if I was? I know it only takes a few seconds to check it out, but I'd rather not even waste that much time, not to mention the nuisance of trying to play "kill the pop-up" on 4 gazillion windows...

If I'm not alone in this way of thinking, then as an SEO you would be doing your client a disservice registering domains and giving advice based on how you believe people "should" think, instead of how they "do" think.

The worst professors in university were the ones who went straight though the system, got their PhD, then became teachers. They would talk about theory to no end, but as soon as you started practicing what they said, you found out you were way off base. The best ones actually had jobs in the real world at one point and were able to give advice and information based on that. The real world counts.

Ian

#26 Ron Carnell

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 04:38 PM

Most experienced searchers (and, with time, more and more of the online population are becoming skilled at searching) know that the majority of more-than-one-hyphen domain names that do well in the SERPs are sites out to make a quick buck, and generally of no use.

Too true. But I suspect it's equally true that experienced searches eventually realize that the majority of domain names that do well in the SERPs, regardless of whether they have a hyphen, are sites out to make a quick buck and generally of no use. :hmm:

We could also make some generalizations about the length of a domain name. Short names have probably been around a while and withstood the test of time. The longer the domain name, the more likely it's new and the less likely it will have what you want.

Sigh. It seems the older I get, the more cynical I get?

Elsewhere in the forums, I've expounded on my belief that SEO is accumulative and EVERY detail matters. However, while that's still true of domain names, I believe it is necessarily secondary to a non-SEO marketing concept. Your domain name, I think, should always be reserved first and foremost for your branding efforts.

That means short, clear, and easily remembered. Branding is just another way of describing word-of-mouth. I always try to imagine a radio announcer delivering a ten-second, unscripted news item about my next web site. If I'm unlucky, he'll tell everyone to go to poetry dash magazine dot com. If I'm really unlucky and he's not too bright, I'll hear him say poetry minus sign dot com. On a really good day, he'll get it right and we'll hear poetry hyphen magazine dot com. And on a really BAD day, he'll send everyone to poetry magazine dot com, which happens to be my competition.

Hyphens can be marginally helpful with SEO, but in my opinion, they are killers for branding. For directories and filenames, I'll opt for SEO-helpful techniques. For domain names, however, I'll concentrate on branding.

(BTW, poetry-magazine.com is one of my early mistakes. The site is still there, but hasn't been updated in almost two years. Probably won't be, either, until and unless I can buy the corresponding non-hyphenated domain. I'm just not altruistic enough to promote my competition.)

#27 bwelford

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 05:49 PM

I'm from the KISS school. So your domain name should be the same as your company name.

Make it user and Search Engine friendly. So that means avoiding hyphens, underscores and any other funny symbols such as accents. For other possible problems, see a paper I wrote called, "For More Sales Call Your Company MONDAY".

Barry Welford

#28 awall19

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 06:44 PM

My take on the URL thing is that it is easy to do, so why not?

In addition to what direct improvements may occure in the search engines is the important indirect effect.

If my website is www.1944ddfadfkld.net it is a much harder sell to get you to link to me with "Search Engine Marketing" or "Search Engine Optimization" in the link.

In my eyes a matching domain name adds a bit of psychological impact which will make it an easier sell to have directory editors list your site under the appropriate terms.

In addition to the improved effect on the directory editors and other link exchangers, we should remeber the effect on the person performing the search.

Many search engines run their search results through a querry matching and highlighting program. Having one more highlight on your site will improve clickthrough rates.

Some domain is so devoted to my phrase that their name matches it. I want to reward that site for filling my needs. At least I am more likely to click on it than 101amgreslterlsdtsald.com

Edited by awall19, 04 September 2003 - 08:06 PM.


#29 ttweb

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Posted 05 September 2003 - 11:50 AM

If an URL says www.this-is-exactly-what-you-are -looking-for.com why in the world would you not click on it.


Just one more opinion... from an SEO neophyte... too many dashes remind me of ugly billboards along the highway, rather than an inviting door that I would feel comfortable walking through.

I see the attraction of having related concepts in the URL for increasing CTR, but am landing squarely with the camp that prefers what is inside vs. the wrapper. When I search, I read the descriptions in the SERP and relagate the URL to a web artifact anyway.

For further discussion, I can be reached at my business: Monkey Foods R Us, 2345 Primate Nutrition Ln, Simeon NM. :aloha:

#30 Jill

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Posted 05 September 2003 - 01:38 PM

For further discussion, I can be reached at my business: Monkey Foods R Us, 2345 Primate Nutrition Ln, Simeon NM.





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