Optimizing URLs and Filenames

Posted by: Matt Koulas

Optimizing your URLs and file names is another important factor of on-page seo optimization. There are several best practices here which can allow you to have the best possible optimized pages possible. I will break these items down in terms of folder levels on your web site.

Root Level

(www.example.com)
Your web site’s domain should be focused about what you provide if possible. In some cases your company may offer a wide array of services or products, and one focus may not be possible. Additionally sometimes focusing on your brand name may be more important to build your company’s brand. With that said, if your web site has one direct focus, such as phone systems, your domain name should reflect this as directly as possible. Having your product or service located in your domain name is the most important factor for gaining SEO value from your URL. If you sell phone systems, and your domain does not reflect this, a search engine needs to look deeper into your site and has less confidence in you.
Good: www.phonesystems.com
Bad: www.irrelevant.com

Directory or Folder Level

(www.example.com/folder/)
The directory level of your domain name is also important. This is a best usability practice, just like many recommendations in this article, so users can visually realize where they are navigating to. This also makes editing your own site easier as you continue to grow. The folder level of your domain is of lower importance than your domain name, or the page name, but is another opportunity for you to optimize for the search engines. You should gradually break down your products from your domain, and best practice is having no more than 3 or 4 folder levels to reach your most focused page.
Good: www.phonesystems.com/used-phone-systems/nortel-phone-systems/
Bad: www.irrelevant.com/items/num/

File or Page Level

(www.example.com/folder/pagename.html)
The file name is the second most important aspect of your URL, behind the domain name itself. An accurately descriptive file name can be quite useful for search engine optimization to help rank you above your competition. If your file name is focused on what your page contains, it is another vote of confidence the search engine can make about your page and will rank you higher.
Good: www.phonesystems.com/used-phone-systems/nortel-phone-systems.html
Bad: www.irrelevant.com/items/num/3445345.html&id=34

Additionally, it is important to note that the best practice in spacing your words in domains, folders, or filenames, is to use the – (dash) rather than the _ (underscore), though at this point there is no direct evidence to support a preference in the search engines. This practice has just become the unofficial standard.

While these seem like simple concepts, they are commonly done wrong. When done right, these could be the difference in you ranking higher than your competition and increasing your revenue!

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