September 21, 2011
This week I asked my social media followers:
++Do you change URLs for SEO purposes if they're not currently using keywords but are being indexed fine?++
Here's how they responded:
Daveminchala: If page has poor or no search traffic or visibility, I'll do it. If it already performs decently well, I'll optimize somewhere else.
Kenjansen: I did do that and my rankings went even higher after 6 to 8 weeks. New high ranking on all 9 pages I changed. 2 weeks of severe pain, though.
Markkennedysem: If the page has lots of links pointing to it or authority, I wouldn't. 301 may not pass all of the link value. If not, I would.
Phixed: I haven't done that for years. Once indexed, linked to and ranking properly, I leave as is whenever possible.
Helenculshaw: No! No need to fix what's not broken, when there are usually much bigger issues to worry about!
Carolinelbell: If there's value for user and/or rankings then maybe. Pros & cons list needed.
Dasnsandy: Yes, I do change 'em.
LesFaber: I would. And would also do a 301-redirect for the Old URL.
Parthasarthi197: If the page is indexed, I would not like to change the URL only to include the keyword in URL.
Webtones: Only if I feel users will increase click through, seeing the keyword as a call to action. Rarely if ever for the bots.
Nilaye10: Turning an indexed URL into a keyword-rich URL should only be done if site technology warrants a complete URL transformation.
Shawn Warren: I have.
Hershel Miller: Absolutely; getting them reindexed is straightforward enough.
Craig Fifield: On my sites--sure. On a client's site it should be weighed against the technical hurdles. Also, keep the competition in mind--if you are going to outrank everyone anyway, the change might not be worth it.
Dave Winget: I'd say do it provided you know how to 301 correctly. It's only going to help.
Aaron Hassen: Include keywords, yes. Then redirect your old ones.
Larry Chrzan: Usually I don't change URLs if there's no good reason to do so. At the point where I'm doing a website re-design for a client, the question always comes up.
Rajesh Kumar: If we are looking for organic traffic, indexing smoothly, robot friendly and if it's dynamic URL then sure, it helps to change it or make it 301-redirect.
Ash Nallawalla: Absolutely not, unless there is overwhelming evidence that the current format is leading to poor indexing for other pages and Google WMT can't fix those issues. Google is pretty good with ugly URLs these days. If most of the pages have been indexed, I would let sleeping dogs lie. Keywords in URLs are nice to have if you are starting a site, but rarely make a difference to indexing.
Michael Gray: Indexed and not ranking like putting on a sequin evening gown to spend the night alone watching a bravo marathon. If you're indexed and not ranking yeah I'd fix those; indexed and ranking I'd leave as is.
Thomas Rosenstand: Absolutely not. Why would I?
Tim Ronning: As a rule of thumb here I'd say no, but it kinda depends on other factors like if this is part of a bigger project, redesign, refocus, mismatched topical indexing, etc.
Steve Gerencser: It depends. If this is for a large site then no, the ROI usually isn't enough to justify the time/money spent making all the changes and redirects and testing to make sure they are done right. We make the change going forward from that point.
Marcus Miller: Nope, generally not. I manage one site with horrid URLs but the SERPs display the breadcrumb (in place of the URL) so everything looks neat and tidy and there is seemingly no impacts on click through. I would always review on a case by case basis but where budgets are tight I can usually find more productive areas to focus on.
Santosh Singh: Definitely not.
Dave Davies: 90% of the time I'd say not. There are exceptions such as a new site that's likely a ways off from ranking.
Steven Musumeche: Yes, I did make the URLs more descriptive and have keywords. With the use of 301 redirects, it worked great.
Karon Price Thackston: Change existing URLs? No. But if I create a new page, I'll include keywords in the URL.
Pontus Österlin: Been thinking about this just recently and came to the decision to actually change existing URLs. Even considering adding keyword on start page URL -- mysite.com/keyword instead of mysite.com -- in cases where keyword is a highly competitive one.
Barbara Keek: My first reaction was no. But what's the use to be indexed if they don't contain the right keywords? So yes!
Jill's Comment: Wow, lots of differing opinions with this one! My opinion mirrors Ash Nallawalla's above: Never change URLs unless they're causing a problem.
Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings and an SEO Consultant in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen
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