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Keywords in URL path

 5:50 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)


Is there any SEO value in placing keywords in the URL path for a website?

For instance, if I am a photographer and my website name is www.example.com and I would like to rank for "photography and design", would there be any SEO benefit for having a URL path to the homepage as follows:



[edited by: Andy_Langton at 8:07 pm (utc) on Mar 1, 2013]
[edit reason] Anonymised example domain [/edit]



 8:08 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Not really. And you probably never want to link or publicize anything with index.html in it.

Andy Langton

 8:10 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

The quick answer is yes. URLs are part of your user interface and should show people what to expect when they click through. Further to that, you'll always pivk up more links where the clickable text is just your URL (e.g. from forums) and in those cases the words in the URL have a significant impact on relevance.

Your example is not very well created though. Index.html is to be avoided, at the very least. It would also be a stretch for a site to file photography and design under the same umbrella (it's poor information architecture in my view). You would hope to end up with something like this, with a logical path reading from right to left:



 8:12 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

For usability purposes, I agree it's good to have descriptive keywords in your URLs. But honestly I don't think you're gonna get much in the way of SEO value out of them.

Andy Langton

 8:49 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think we posted simultaneously there, netmeg :)

It's still a signal, IMO - not the biggest signal in terms of direct onpage relevance, but not one to dismiss out of hand, particularly when it comes to external links. E.g. [google.com...]


 8:50 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)


Thanks for the quick replies. Actually, I would have to implement a 301 server side redirect from www.example.com to www.example.com/photography-and-design/index.html or www.example.com/photography-and-design/.

From what I understand then, is that there would not be much SEO benefit, but rather some user-benefit and possibly some improved click-through rates.

However, I have read at SEOmoz that they claim there is a 0 - 9% reduction in link juice when a redirect is implemented. If this is true, wiould there be a possible negative SEO effect from implementing the redirect?

What are your thoughts?

Robert Charlton

 8:58 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

IMO, direct ranking benefits from keywords in the url path are miniscule. I certainly wouldn't change old urls to keyword-rich urls thinking that this might help SEO. The loss from redirects would outweigh any keyword boost.

Given a choice on a new site or a site rebuild, though, I'd go for descriptive filenames. Particularly in the serps where queried keywords are bolded, they do attract the eye.

I'd be careful not to overdo it, though. Definitely don't add extra directories with keyword names into the filepath simply to increase the keyword count.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 9:01 pm (utc) on Mar 1, 2013]

Andy Langton

 9:01 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Actually, I would have to implement a 301 server side redirect from www.example.com to www.example.com/photography-and-design/index.html or www.example.com/photography-and-design/.

There's a hard and fast rule here - never redirect your homepage.

In terms of the loss of link juice you mention, I wouldn't trust the numbers you've quoted at all, but whether you lose any value depends on the particular circumstances you're talking about.

Robert Charlton

 9:04 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Regarding loss from 301s, see current discussion here...

Matt Cutts Answers How Much PageRank is lost through a 301 redirect
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4548792.htm [webmasterworld.com]


 9:19 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Andy:

Thanks for the link on 301-redirects. It was interesting reading.

The reason I made this post was because a well-known SEO authority told me that I shouldn't redirect the homepage, just as you have recommended, regardless of the desire to incorporate keywords in URLs. His opinion was that it could possbily look spammy to Google. Weighed against this was the benefit of keyworded URLs.

It would appear to me that it would be best to leave my homepage "as is" without redirecting for keywords.

Would this be the correct conclusion to draw from the foregoing discussion in this thread?



 9:28 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)



 10:33 pm on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Don't create unecessary folder levels in URLs.

When combined with URL rewriting, it's usually a recipe for (a duplicate content) disaster.

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