Well I am back, blogging again. Enjoyed my extended weekend break and ready to pump out some more SEO posts
I regularly receive emails from readers asking for advice on various SEO issues ranging from tips and tricks to major search penalty issues. Some I am happy to give a quick answer to others require consulting hours.
One thing that is often asked is how and when to use keywords in the URL and what effect this has on rankings. Now instead of me simply answering this I thought I’d show you a brief study I looked at around a month ago.
As an SEO I am continually testing different areas of optimisation to find out what is really working and what is not that important. I performed the following study using 10 competitive keywords, the ten broad keywords were also tested against similar longtail versions.
The aim was to see what correlation, if any, keywords in the URL had on high rankings within Google.
I took the 10 broad keywords in competitive niches and analysed the top ten URL’s to see which included the broad terms. Keywords such as “search engine optimisation”, “car loans” and “credit cards” were looked at with the following results;
As you can see on average 50% of the sites in the top ten included the “broad” keyword phrase in the URL. When I say URL I am making reference to the whole URL and not just the root domain.
The results also seemed to show there was no difference between keywords in a file extension and the root domain
eg. www.keywordusedhere.com = root domain
www.rootdomain.com/keywordusedhere = extension
As long as the keyword was used somewhere in the URL it seemed to have some sort of positive impact on rankings.
I couldn’t just test the broad terms, I also needed to see how longtail terms could be used in the URL to increase rankings. I took the same broad keywords and changed them to a longtail phrase to see how rankings changed.
Only 27% of sites ranking for longtail keywords used the exact “longtail” term in the URL. This was very low so I decided to look at it from a different angle.
I decided to analyse the rankings for the longtail terms to see how many URL’s had used the ‘broad’ keyword phrase.
Search = low cost car loans
Broad Term in URL = car loans
Anyway here’s the difference.
47% of pages ranking for a longtail term had the broad keyword phrase in the URL.
eg. A search for “bad credit loans” reveals that not too many pages have the exact search term in, however over 50% have the broad term “loan” in the URL.
What does this tell us?
Even though the test was only carried out on 10 broad terms and 10 longtail terms, it gives us some insights into how Google treats keywords in the URL.
- If you want to rank for broad competitive terms, it is a good idea to have the keyword in the URL
- If your attempting to rank for a longtail, low competition keyword there is no real need to use the exact term as long as you use the broad term.
Overall I don’t think I would really be concerned about keywords in the URL as it only seems to be a minor ranking factor, remember 50% of the sites ranking in the top ten did not use the keywords at all.
If you do a search for “seo services” (which is a major competitive keyword) you will be lucky to find one listing with the keyword in the URL.
So final tip, if you can get the “main” keyword in the URL do it, if not.. Don’t lose any sleep over it as focusing on the more powerful factors will still help push your site to the top of Google.Line Break
Author: Tim (294 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.