URL Keyword Test

By Deane Barker on February 7, 2007

Use Targeted Keywords in URL: A month ago, I questioned the use of keywords in URLs. These folks did a test. They put a garbage word in the URL of a page. They used the word nowhere else on the page or in the linktext to that page.

Before we started our test, we searched for rkpatjfg in Google, MSN beta, Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, Lycos, Teoma, WiseNut, Exalead (AOL.fr) and Voila. There were no results on these search engines.

Results […] Google, MSN (beta), Yahoo! and Exalead take into account the words in the URL. […] The other search engines (Ask Jeeves, Lycos, Teoma, WiseNut and Voila) have not yet crawled our webpages

This proves that search engines take it into account, sure. But I maintain that this is much less pressing than 90% of the other issues you find on the average Web page. If you’re prioritizing your SEO work, I still think there are a dozen things that stack up above URLs in the list.

Via Anders Midtgaard in a comment to that original post.

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  1. I disagree Deane. I believe the 4 most important things right now in organic search are … not in order, but all of high value…

    1. Write Good Content – this is not necessary actually, but it does make the web better and if you do it, keyword density will almost naturally hit.

    2. Keywords in URL – WordPress does a great job of doing this via default assuming you can write a good keyword title. For verification of this, in addition to proven tests, I look directly to MattCutts blog http://mattcutts.com/blog and see how he uses wordpress and the keywords in urls. Also, I have many proven examples of the actual keyword dense domain name working like gold

    3. Internal Linking – actually not linking to low value pages…in fact robots.txt ing any file of low value or of almost duplicate content. Thus, your best pages sould get better page rank. I will not touch on External Linking.

    4. Page Title and Meta Description – I believe these 2 help a ton. Page Title especially. Meta Desc more for look of listing in Search.

  2. maybe disagree was the wrong opening statement…Possibly, I give much higher consideration to keywords in URL is better.

  3. Personally, I found very little evidence that having keywords in the URL really works. Google refers tons of traffic my way and rerely do my URLs contain keywords. However it’s possible I sidestep the need for the crawlers to really look that deep into my site since I offer an XML sitemap for the feeds ( http://www.sitemaps.org/index.html ).

  4. xml sitemaps are great and do help as well.

    Regarding keywords in the url though, I believe that if all things equal…same PR, exact same page, only variable changed is the URL, one would definitely see a lift (i.e. rank above the other) by having keywords. Therefore, it (url keywords) does have a Value…now, one needs to best determine that “Value”. Is the vaue equal to 1 PR, added density, exactly what in the equation? And how does this value help you…it may help cancel out one of your missing elements.

    In some capacity, it is in the ranking equation…even if just a keyword density type impact. To what extent (weight) in determining your actual listing is unknown.

    And if not, I am doing a good job of convincing myself otherwise. :)

  5. It’s a best practice and will help as a small part of the SEO pie to help achieve rankings. URL naming convention, plus the rest of what makes up the SEO pie will give you a better chance at ranking well across all search engines – no one single factor will give you the desired results.

    At the end of the day, you should have your URLs named correctly for usability first and ‘clickability’ from within search results. If there is a result with a non-descript numeric URL and a keyword-separated-URL, it makes sense that if the end-user sees that the search terms used are highlighted in the search results this will improve click-thru rates in search results. So as to say, if your site is sitting in 3rd and the 2nd result doesn’t have this, your chances of being clicked on, will improve.

    Focus on content and links and make sure to cover best practices and your site will rank well.

  6. I agree with Declan. A clean, usable url is better for everyone. It allows the user to know exactly where they are and you to be able to identify a section quickly. A bunch of numbers or id codes tell you nothing. Instead of having something like ?id=5768 I would like to have something like ?title=urlkeywordtest. If you see that on the error page you know the exact page right away. Looking at the former you have no clue what that page was about.

  7. Its backlinks with keyword on anchor text, that counts also. Please put “click here” to Google and see first result, how many times keyword is in url, title, meta, how about in body?

  8. I think content is King, but for very competing niches the keywords in your URL can make a difference. Anyway, now with social media there are so many things to take into account for SEO that is very hard to have good results without taking advantage of all the factors.

  9. I still believe putting keyword in URL will enable search engines like Google to crawl faster. I have been doing this and it really works. Trust me.

  10. There are many aspects that will make a site win competition in the net. Keyword is just one of those aspects. Things like content, backlinks also play important roles.

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