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August 31, 2006

Should you be creating keyword-specific file names?

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I’ll give you a heads up. You’re probably going to be reading a lot of should-I-put-keywords-in-the-URL debates over the next few days. And when you do, you have one person to blame: Mr. Matt Cutts. Heh.

While most of you (fine, some of you) were sleeping at 1 a.m. this morning, Matt was blogging (don’t look so surprised). It seems the question of why the Windows Live Writer blog was banned from Google went from site to site until it eventually ended up in Matt’s lap. Matt mentioned a few things he noticed about the URL before finally stating:

“In general, urls like that [windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!D85741BB5E0BE8AA!174] sometimes look like session IDs to search engines. Most bloggy sites tend to have words from the title of a post in the url; having keywords from the post title in the url also can help search engines judge the quality of a page.”

Hurry! Go stuff your URLs and file names with the keywords you used in your title! Okay, okay, we’re kidding. And even though you could take Matt’s comments to mean Google is now giving page titles more weight, that’s probably not what he meant.

Unnaturally filling (read: spamming) your URLs and file names with your keywords is probably not a good idea. It’s actually a really bad idea.

Matt actually clarifies what he meant in the comment section of his post.

“Including the keyword in the url just gives another chance for that keyword to match the user’s query in some way. That’s the way I’d put it.”

Yes, that makes more sense. Unfortunately, most people probably didn’t read that far down (which is a shame since the comment sections is always the best part of a post, no offense, Matt.), so you’ll probably see a rash of crazy forum posts in the days to come harking the overstuffing of your URL. When you do, just laugh and move on.

Obviously, users should be using keywords in their titles. Titles show up in the SERP and it provides a good user experience for searchers when they see a title that matches their query. If your keywords are in your URL, it’s just reinforcement that your site is relevant to their needs. It’s not a reason to rank on its own. Steer clear from anyone who tells you differently.

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