Kim Pittaway sent in a question (thanks, Kim!) in response to my post the other day about web heds vs. print heds:
Isn’t it also important to repeat keywords of the hed in the address for the article page? I still see magazines assigning page addresses like http://www.mymagazine.com/features/1134 – shouldn’t they be doing something like http://www.mymagazine.com/features/web-headline-writing-tips? I’ve been told this makes a difference in search – is that in fact the case?
Kim is completely correct. In fact, the URL is important enough for search that I’d been planning to devote a post to this topic. No time like the present.
The simple answer is, Google likes keywords to appear in your article’s URL – and as far as I know, the closer to the beginning, the better, which means your domain name is extremely important. For instance, in a bit of shameless promotion of my own site, while the keyword phrase “best health” is a pretty common one, Best Health magazine (besthealthmag.ca) comes up first on google.ca – but only second on google.com, after the website besthealth.com. (This result could also have to do with the fact that besthealth.com has likely been around a lot longer than besthealthmag.ca.)
You’ll notice when you do a Google search that the words you searched for are highlighted in your results. Next time you search for something, pay attention to whether the search terms appear in the URL (aka the web address) of the top-ranked pages. It’s likely that they are. For instance (click the image to view full-size):
You’ll notice that in the Seafood Paella recipe from besthealthmag.ca (oops, did it again), the keywords “paella” and “recipe” both appear in the page title, in the body (here, the dek) and in the URL. This distribution of the keywords really helps the results. (The external link I just gave it won’t hurt either, but that’s a topic for another post.)
Bottom line? If you want to increase your site’s traffic from search, it’s worth figuring out how to get more keywords into your URLs. You should notice a big difference in your rankings.