How you name each of your pages is very important. It helps the search engines determine what your web page is all about. If done right, it can improve how your site is found and ranked. If done wrong, it can hide your site from your prospects.
First let’s define some terms to avoid confusion:
Page Title: This HTML element shows the search engines and the searcher what your page is about. It is displayed in the topbar of the browser. (More on page titles )
Page Name: The file name of your page. It appears in the address bar of the browser. It, combined with the domain name, constitutes the URL (Uniform Resource Locator.)
Domain Name: The identification label which defines your entire site. It is the first part of any of your pages web address.
Your homepage, depending on how your site is created, will normally be named index or default. This is set and is not variable. However each subsequent page needs to be a name that reflects its role but does so using keywords.
There are a great many pages online now with page names like services, about-us or contact. While these do reflect the pages role on the site, they do nothing to assist the search engines understanding of your site. Getting keywords in your page names is an often overlooked technique for SEOing a website.
If, for instance, we were creating a site for “Universal Widget” a company which manufactures and sells “Widgets”, we would want the following pages:
- Homepage – introduces the company and sets the tone of the website
- About Us – covers the history/experience of the company and its principals
- Services – outlines the various services offered (ie, creation, repair, classes…)
- Products – lists the various types of widgets produced
- Contact Us – contains all contact information including physical address, phone numbers, fax numbers and email address.
First we pick a domain name. Universal-Widget.com is better than UniversalWidget.com as the keyword “widget” is separate and not just part of another word. If Universal specializes in mahogany widgets then a domain name like Mahogany-Widget.com would be a good choice as it contains two important keywords, mahogany and widget.
When naming these pages we would keep in mind that the names not only have to reflect what the pages are about but also assist the search engines by using keywords.
Here are several guidelines which are used in creating the page names:
- Keep them short, no more than 3 or 4 words
- Use keywords
- Use dashes between the words, not underlines and never spaces
- Make them understandable to both humans and search engines
- Don’t use anything extraneous such as dates, part numbers, etc which are meaningless to anyone but the company
- Do not use special characters (&, %, ‘, *, etc.) except for dashes
So, using these rules let’s name the pages:
- Homepage – index.html (this is the default)
- About Us – about-universal-widget.htm
- Services – widget-manufacture-repair.htm
- Products – custom-mahogany-widgets.htm
- Contact Us – contact-mahogany-widgets.htm
Each contains keywords and describes what the pages are about, are no more than 3 words, are easily understandable and don’t contain any special characters. They will help the search engines find Universal Widget and rank it high for the keywords mahogany and widget.
Changing page names which have been used for a length of time is not recommended as the pages have already been indexed in the search engines and you do not want to lose there ranking. There is a way to make the change to a new page name (it is called a 301 redirect) but it needs to be done by someone with technical expertise.
One important thing to note is that you can over-SEO a URL. The trick is not to use too many words in the domain name or the file name. This will keep the importance of your keywords from diminishing since they won’t have to share significance with other, less important keywords.
Using your keywords in creating your domain name and page names is extremely important in making your website search engine friendly. It helps the search engines and the searchers determine what your web pages are all about. If done correctly proper page names can improve how your site is found and ranked.