Keywords in url - Is this important?

This is alleged to be the most important factor in SEO.

What is a keyword in url? :

How do I optimise a url for a keyword?

  • – place the keyword as close to the domain name as possible.

Unless in a strongly ‘themed’ branch, keep keywords close the domain name in the folder structure


  • If you have two keywords, use hyphenation.
NB.The first keyword in the url will always take priority.(in this case ‘key’)
  • 3 hyphenations maximum
  • Less than 30 Characters (60 absolute maximum)

Keep the whole url as short as possible

  • Use Static Url structures like:

/category/subcategory/page.html  – i.e. the site structure is fixed and not constantly changing.

In contrast, dynamic structures are like : ‘index.php?cat=3&subcat=4&page=11 – these should be avoided

  • Do not stuff the url with keywords. Instead concentrate on just one keyword or phrase.
  •  Link well ranked pages to other well ranked pages. Loose links to pages you don’t care too much about.
  •  Include the file extension. Without it the browser will have to check the folder, for possible candidates. This will slow page loading.
When people use search engines, they often have either a general search terms or a company name in mind. If you are optimising for a company name see ‘Keyword in Domain’. However, because domain names often reflect a company name, it is reckoned that keywords deeper in the url are given priority.
We all know how hard it is to remember a domain name, remembering a dynamic url would be next to impossible. Therefore, for important pages and keywords, it is often a good idea to create a landing page with a short easily remembered url. Use short basic words that do not require a language degree to spell. Try to keep the whole url under 30 characters.

Keyword Rich Url

Taking care not to over-stuff a url with keywords, this can be very effective. If you are trying to optimise for more than one keyword, then use hyphenation. For instance if you were trying to optimise for ‘target keyword’ then use example of a keyword rich url:
Choose keywords that aren’t super popular, choose ones that are still ranked by Google but are slightly more specific
Search engines use periods and dashes as word separators, some people argue that you can also use an underscore or indeed other characters but this is very controversial and should be avoided.
What happens if you were to use a url stripped of hyphenation? :
Obviously ‘targetkeyword’ isn’t a real word and therefore would not be ranked. That’s not to say that a search engine cannot read these url’s as they often highlight partial matches, but when ranking the page it’s not going to e given the same priority.

You can use Google to list websites with a given keyword in the url. Use ‘allinurl:’ directly followed by a keyword or hyphenated phrase

  • allinurl:key-word

Or simply type your chosen keyword into a search engine. Some search phrases may get unexpected results.

For urls that are advertised elsewhere, there is a string argument to keep the whole url link as short as possible.

How to choose a keyword or key-phrase

Use a keyword traffic estimator such as:
Google Adwords
Google Trends
Google Traffic Estimator

If competition and traffic for a given keyword is high, choose a different keyword or phrase to optimise for. If traffic is high then there will be dozens of highly ranked, well established site perfectly optimised for that phrase. Competition for the phrase ‘cherry pie’ would be huge and a battle not worth fighting, yet competition for ‘soft cherry pie’ would be much lower and a much better bet.

Consider the order words appear in. With the advent of ‘Google Instant’ the importance of word order and use of phrases has risen drastically. Now as you begin typing a word or phrase into the search box, Google tries to predict what you are searching for, by offering a drop down selection of phrases. Unfortunately, these predictions are often the top most highly contended. Make a note of these phrases.

Investigate the competition:

With a lot of search engines, only a very small ranking bonus for meta data is given, yet some search engine still display this data is search result listings. Unfortunately, this data also gives away what the page has been optimised for. Most web pages are not that well optimised yet it is definitely worth checking out the competition.

To do this you will need to view the source code of the page and look for:

  • <meta content=”Some text to describe the page” name=”description”>
  • <meta content=”keyword, key word, keyphrase, keyphrase” name=”keywords”>
  • <title>name of webpage</title>
  • <meta content=”Name of web page” name=”Title”>

Start a spread-sheet with a couple of tables:


Meta Description

Meta Keywords

Meta Title Tag

Title Tag

Some text to describe the page

Keyword, key word, keyphrase, keyphrase

name of webpage

Name of web page

Page description

another keyword, another key phrase

Another Title

Another Title

Google Instant Prediction


search key word



Now use Google adwords on all the phrases you have found:


Global Monthly Searches

Local Monthly Searches




key word






key phrase



Name of Webpage



Another Title

8,114 91

Organise the results so they are in order of Global Monthly Searches. Key words or phrases at the top of the list will be highly contended and will have many well established sites competing intensely for top spot. For a new page, pick a key word or phrase close to the bottom of the list. Typically, these will be longer key-phrases and not singular keywords. These are your money phrases.

Before going too far, you now need a double check on key-word trends. The popularity of certain phrases and keywords varies over time. A keyword related to a recent breaking news story will have a sharp increase in popularity, but after 6 months traffic for this keyword will have dropped right off. Some keywords have a much gentler trend, as they simply go into and out of fashion. The trick is to pick a keyword on the breach of a rise and not one in decline.

p>Google Trends

Domain name themes

When urls contain more than one sub-folder, the keywords that are contained within a ‘themed’ parent folder are given a higher ranking than if they were unique to the whole site. For instance a recipe would get a higher ranking if there were hundreds of similar recipes on that site.

A ‘cherry pie’ recipe, would gain a higher ranking status if it was in the following structure.

Crusty Cherry PieCherry SpongeSoft Cherry Pie

Notice, the sub folders are related, with each folder having a logical parent. However the url is not keyword stuffed. Stuffing a url with keywords will receive a penalty. When choosing parent names, there is some balance issues. You are looking for a logical parent but without being too general. Parent names such as ‘sales’ or ‘store’ are too generic.

A badly stuffed url could look like:


Suppose somebody types Soft Cherry Pie into a search engine and finds two sites containing that term. The site which returns twenty Cherry Pie recipes will be picked over the site with just one. A search engine thinks the same way as a human choosing a book. The one that has several pages of similar theme will always win.

Some search engines, such as Google list several results for the same page indented below the Primary find. Therefore, you are taking up more of the visible part of search results, with the competition being pushed off the bottom of the screen.