|Optimizing Filenames in URLs|
Like many of you on this board, the new Google architecture has resulted in many of my pages having been dropped from the Google index.
In SEO circles, it has been often stated that it is good to contain keywords that are being optimized for a page, in the URL (both domain name and filename). From this, I have several questions:
1) Is this a good idea ?
2) If I have pages that already exist, is it a good idea to
alter the filenames to contain optimized KW's ?
3) It has been stated that KW's in Filenames should be separated
by either dashes or underscores, as opposed to being
contiguous. Is this a good practice ?
4) Finally, if all of the above is true, I would consider changing
the names of existing filenames in my sitemap, that are currently
indexed in Google. What should the recourse for doing this be ?
Should I physically REMOVE the file from Google first, and then
add the newly named file ? Should I just remove the existing file
from my Sitemap, and add the new file to my Sitemap ? What is the
best recourse here to eliminate a potential duplicate content
penalty, and to expedite the indexing of this new file ?
Thank you in advance.
1) Yes it is a good idea.
2) It depends on how bad your existing URLs are. If you have example.com/product.php?=1234, it would be better to 301 that URL to example.com/blue-widgets/. It is very important that you 301 the old URLs to the new URLs though. Also, again it depends on how bad the existing URLs really are.
3) Yes. You'll want to use dashes and not underscores.
4) I think if you remove the old URLs from the existing sitemap, add the new URLs to the sitemap, and 301 the old URLs to the new URLs, you'll be ok. I'm not sure how quickly Google would update the URLs in the index, but a 301 is required to show google that the old page has moved.
On a final note, this is just good SEO practice to have optimized (but not overly optimized) URLs. This alone probably won't fix your recent drop in rankings however.
5) And don't forget to use canonical link tag as well to the new URL
On another note, Bing doesn't seem to do a good job of using the canonical link tag - my site has had new format URLs since last October and bing still indexes the older style URLs. I DIDN'T do 301 redirects.
|I DIDN'T do 301 redirects. |
If the old URLs still resolve as 200 OK, then that is playing with fire for all search engines -- even using canonical links.
Hi there, Tedster;
|If the old URLs still resolve as 200 OK, then that is playing with fire for all search engines -- even using canonical links. |
Please, please tell me you are joking.
Yes, my old URLs still do generate 200 ok status, but that was because I swear that I saw an interview with Matt Cutts saying that you SHOULDN'T do 301 redirects if at all possible, and to instead use the canonical link tag, and redo the internal linking so that it uses the new URL format, especially for the sitemap.
I could be wrong about that - my wife will tell you I am wrong about many, MANY things.
But if you are quite sure that the old style links should be changed to a 301 redirect, then I will make that priority number 1.
Thank you in advance.
Every time I've heard Matt he has always said the exact opposite: it's always better to actually do the 301. The canonical tag was created for situations where the web hosting platform doesn't allow the redirect. But that's abdicating responsibility to Google's back end - always something to avoid if you can. With their pile of data, stuff certainly does happen.
Check this video, for instance: [mattcutts.com...]
We do 301s everywhere, and for good measure, canonical everything too. That way, our 301s fix stuff we know about, and the canonicals intercept and normalize any bad urls invented out in the wild. It has worked PERFECTLY for us - no issues.
P.S. In March - May, in my sector, I saw a surge of keyword-in-url sites, but in the past 2 weeks. I have seen those sites mostly severely pushed down, certainly the undeserving ones... Keyword-in-url had seemingly been doing so well, I had begun to ask myself if I should consider a move in that direction as well, but given what I've seen more recently, I won't make that move. It is too easy to take advantage of it, so it doesn't make sense it would be a permanent signal. I'd think twice about it...
|I saw a surge of keyword-in-url sites, but in the past 2 weeks. I have seen those sites mostly severely pushed down, |
But back when the caffeine update was still a rumor (circa October of 2009), weren't SEO people running around saying that having keywords in the URL was going to be MORE important with caffeine?
|Every time I've heard Matt he has always said the exact opposite: it's always better to actually do the 301. |
Thank you Tedster for that clarification.
I guess maybe I was confused, because I had heard that anchor text doesn't ALWAYS flow with 301 redirects, so I was under the impression that to get anchor text to flow to the NEW URL, it was better to keep the OLD URL active (Meaning serving up the same page) and then ensure that you had the correct canonical tag and the preferred URL in the site map and internal linking.
But I will try and change it so that my OLD URL format is 301 redirected to the new format.
Thanks again for the clarification.
It's a good thing but don't overdo it. Keywords in category and file names can support the page's target phrase(s) but don't need to echo it completely. Aim for URLs that are "keyword spiced" but avoid "keyword stuffed".
Something like this would be a good URL, meaningful for humans and spiders alike:
However, something like this would be overkill:
IMHO the best URLs are meaningful but concise.