Should You Change URLs for Search Engine Optimization?

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There’s a good Q&A over at High Rankings about changing URLs for SEO. Jill Whalen, one of my favorite SEO experts, suggested no. In other words, does www.yourcompany.com/red-leather-dog-collar.html do better than www.yourcompany.com/item123.html?

She said, and I agree,

"It is a common misconception that keywords in URLs are somehow helpful to search engine rankings, when in reality, they have very little (if any) effect on rankings."

Search engine algorithms change all the time, often in response to what search engine marketers are doing to game the system. So, there’s no way of knowing what the algorithms will be like down the road.

My recommendation is to keep your current URLs as they are; you may have build up some good incoming links and trust at the search engines for that page. However, you may want to hedge your bets going forward, and create more keyword-rich URLs.

One word of caution: don’t over do it. Search engines tend to frown on pages that seem "over-optimized." Be clear with out being pushy.

Rich Brooks
/search-engine-guy-from-maine.html

  • http://www.flyte.biz Carolyn

    I agree entirely! If you've already got a domain that has any traffic, don't switch. The search engines now, more than ever, weigh the longevity of a domain very heavily.

    However if you're building a new site on a new domain, I would certainly consider a keyword rich domain within reason. They tend to get indexed for words in the domain more quickly in my experience.

  • http://www.flyte.biz Carolyn

    I agree entirely! If you've already got a domain that has any traffic, don't switch. The search engines now, more than ever, weigh the longevity of a domain very heavily.

    However if you're building a new site on a new domain, I would certainly consider a keyword rich domain within reason. They tend to get indexed for words in the domain more quickly in my experience.

  • http://www.titlesuccess.com Shane Kane -TitleSuccess.com

    I agree with Jill on some points. We know that the age of a domain impacts page rank. So you wouldn't want to replace an existing url just to have a keyword rich domain.

    However, I think she underestimates the impact a keyword rich domain can have for a new website. I would like to see data which shows otherwise. It's been my experience that search engines pick up keyword rich domains at a faster rate and once indexed they tend to rank a little higher.

    The law offices of James Sokolove, which has a very sophisticated internet marketing team uses keyword rich domains for nearly all their campaigns. There must be a reason why…

  • http://www.titlesuccess.com Shane Kane -TitleSuccess.com

    I agree with Jill on some points. We know that the age of a domain impacts page rank. So you wouldn't want to replace an existing url just to have a keyword rich domain.

    However, I think she underestimates the impact a keyword rich domain can have for a new website. I would like to see data which shows otherwise. It's been my experience that search engines pick up keyword rich domains at a faster rate and once indexed they tend to rank a little higher.

    The law offices of James Sokolove, which has a very sophisticated internet marketing team uses keyword rich domains for nearly all their campaigns. There must be a reason why…

  • http://www.AfterTheLaunch.com Shama Hyder

    I agree Rich-but I will add that it doesn't hurt to have a URL that includes a keyword or two.

  • http://www.AfterTheLaunch.com Shama Hyder

    I agree Rich-but I will add that it doesn't hurt to have a URL that includes a keyword or two.

  • Jonathan

    As important as it is be visible in the eyes of Google, I think it's still important to offer friendly URLs to the eyes of the visitor.

    A search result for "dinosaur fossils for sale" produces a number of results, but a confident URL like http://www.paleodirect.com/dinosaurfossils.htm grabs my attention before an impersonal, dynamically produced URL like http://www.crickrock.com/cgi-bin/webring/list.pl?ringid=fossildealers;siteid=62

  • Jonathan

    As important as it is be visible in the eyes of Google, I think it's still important to offer friendly URLs to the eyes of the visitor.

    A search result for "dinosaur fossils for sale" produces a number of results, but a confident URL like http://www.paleodirect.com/dinosaurfossils.htm grabs my attention before an impersonal, dynamically produced URL like http://www.crickrock.com/cgi-bin/webring/list.pl?ringid=fossildealers;siteid=62