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Old 08-31-2006   #1
glengara
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In From Matt Cutts -- Use Keywords In File Names

Interesting addition to an old argument...

*.. having keywords from the post title in the url also can help search engines judge the quality of a page.*
http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/scoble-visiting-the-plex/
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Old 08-31-2006   #2
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Interesting -- I'm sure it will kick off an entire new debate about them. FYI, here are our key past discussions on this topic: Commonly Asked: Keywords & Hyphens In Domains & URLs
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Old 08-31-2006   #3
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This was the part that made my eyes go wider when I read it, too.

To me it only makes sense. When I save a file on my computer, I don't name it 1092309234.pdf. Instead, I might name it SEO_Keyword_Analysis.pdf, just for my own uses. In the WWW where linking is huge, it's going to help to use words instead of numbers. Google wants to follow patterns of (natural) human nature for showing us results, so this would only be logical to me.

On the contrary, I would say inflating your file names with your keywords would not be a good idea (not natural), and might do harm to your rankings.

I put in the keywords for my sites/clients, and it has been effective. Anyone have links to some recent case studies on this?

Last edited by soloseo : 08-31-2006 at 10:49 AM. Reason: had another thought
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Old 08-31-2006   #4
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Very interesting.

I looked into this technique about 3 months ago comparing high ranking pages (not sites) and I did notice that when keywords were used in the file names, pages were ranked higher. I didn't know if it was because of that little thing or maybe it was just a coincidence.
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Old 08-31-2006   #5
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G seems to test a lot of stuff, I know file names were included in allinanchor calculations for a short period a couple of years ago, and I suspect the same thing happened earlier with domain names, which led to the Multi-keyword-domain-name-fest.com we can all remember ....
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Old 08-31-2006   #6
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It's a sure thing

Note that Google, and Yahoo, highlights any keywords in the URLs in its search results.

For example : http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=cha...web-t500&x=wrt

I would say a keyword in filename / hostname (i.e. in URL) counts as much as in the title tag - that is, a lot.

I changed my most important page names to include keywords and it did help. In any case, using user-friendly names (and that includes for you the the developer!) is a good idea. However, once links and on content keywords are taken into account (lets give them a 1/3, 1/3 1/3 split in weighting), the overall boost might be around 15% based on adding 1 keyword in URL to 1 in ttle tag.

Steve

Last edited by kina : 08-31-2006 at 08:48 PM. Reason: to improve
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Old 09-01-2006   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kina
I would say a keyword in filename / hostname (i.e. in URL) counts as much as in the title tag - that is, a lot.
For MSN I might be inclined to agree with you. But for G and Y, I think you're giving the URL too much weight.

Page title is a foundation for SEO success. In competitive queries, it's difficult to rank on a term if the term isn't in the page title. But you can rank for a term if it's not in your URL. To me, that means URL counts less than the page title.
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Old 09-01-2006   #8
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I still think equal weight.

Hi Pleeker,

Your logic is not quite right - but had me thinkig fora few minutes !

Perhaps you should say "It is difficult to rank well if the keyword is not in the title tag OR URL." So the idea of equal weight still holds true.

There would not be many pages that have keywords in the URL that are not also in the title tag. But there are some I have noticed that seem to rank well (disregarding links, which I can do to some extent given familiarity with the sites in my own area).

URL keywords may have less weight than those in the title tag but certainly they have some weight. My analysis of results in my search area suggests equal weighting.

Steve

Last edited by kina : 09-01-2006 at 08:19 PM. Reason: to improve
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Old 09-01-2006   #9
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Also, from a quality perspective ...

Also, from a quality perspective, a meaningful file name suggests a higher quality page. Further, whereas a title or 10 or so words can cover a few bases, a filename has to define succinctly what the page is most about so it is not surprising that algos would give considerable weight to keywords there.

Ok ok, filenames can potentially be very long and subdirecties also brought into play - and though uncommon I have seen evidence that this might also be helpful - but personally feel it could easily transistion from good structure to black hat.

Besides, trying to remember if bc.html is blue cheddar or brown cheese soon becomes a nuisance so just for your own benefit it is preferable to always use meaningful file names. Any programmer will know the value of naming variables this way : )

Steve
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Old 09-01-2006   #10
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Quote:
Perhaps you should say "It is difficult to rank well if the keyword is not in the title tag OR URL." So the idea of equal weight still holds true.
Well, you can say it, but it doesn't represent what I believe is true.
Quote:
My analysis of results in my search area suggests equal weighting.
I can't dispute what you've seen. I can only discus what I've seen. And I don't think it's accurate to say having a keyword in the URL is as important as having it in the page title. The three building blocks of a successful page are 1) great, keyword-rich content ... 2) a relevant, keyword-based page title, and ... 3) quality inbound links with relevant anchor text. I don't think you can legitimately say "having the keyword in the URL" is as important as any of those. You're welcome to disagree.
Quote:
a filename has to define succinctly what the page is most about so it is not surprising that algos would give considerable weight to keywords there
In fact, the presence of URLs such as http://www.keyword-keyword-keyword.c...d-keyword.html has led engines to lessen the importance of the actual URL.
Quote:
Besides, trying to remember if bc.html is blue cheddar or brown cheese soon becomes a nuisance so just for your own benefit it is preferable to always use meaningful file names.
I never said it's not preferable. I typically use keywords in URLs to make meaningful file names. I just don't think it's accurate to say that it matters as much as what's in the page title.
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Old 09-01-2006   #11
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Eating my words ...

Hi Pleeker,

My only solace is that your logic WAS faulty. However, that doesn't mean I was right - so I investigated further.

Conclusion : On Google, there appears to be no weight to keywords in the file name (only domain name). A search for terms appearing only in the filename will not return it.

For Yahoo, it matters, but not as much as being in the title tag. Interestingly Yahoo stores filenames in its index but Google does not.

So there we have it. Using sensible file names is just good sense for its own sake and has little significance for ranking (perhaps a bit for Yahoo and MSN).

Titles could be spammed as easily as filenames so don't see why filenames should not be weighted. But this is how it stands.

Apologies for being so sure (and so wrong) earlier.

Steve
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Old 09-02-2006   #12
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*On Google, there appears to be no weight to keywords in the file name..*

If looking at it as an off-page linkage related factor you're no doubt right Kina, but I read it more as an on-page factor strengthening the title/content...
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Old 09-06-2006   #13
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File names DO count on Google after all ...

Something bothered me about my last conclusion from my reaserach so i contineued looking.

Previously I stated that no weight was given to keywords in filenames on Google - but this is wrong - they DO count. My error was due to test case. Keywords will not count if they not also inthe title tag or page content. If they are (usual case) then they do count. And the evidence as i mentioned before suggest equal weighting to inclusion in title tag. In other words, it can make a page ranked say 10 jumpto 8 or 9.

In the next post I hope to detail a bit about my test cases.

steve
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Old 09-06-2006   #14
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Test cases

A few weeks ago I created a new page called 'great_wall_photo_gallery.html'. The content was basically just photos other than the title.

Horror to find a big error of mine re 'use search terms in your content'. What would likely search term be ? 'great wall photos' of course, not 'great wall photo' - duh!!

The title then was 'Great wall gallery'.

Ranking was way down >100. But for 'great wall gallery' it was great ! But of no use !! The fact that 'great_wall_photo_gallery' was the filename was of no help at all - no results for 'Great wall photo gallery'. hence I though filename did not cout at all.

Howver, include the keywords in the content and it does count.

So I changed title to 'Great wall photos gallery' using the plural. Filename still 'great_wall_photo_gallery.html'. Now, 'photo' will be found as part of 'photos' (but not vice versa).

Search for 'great wall photos' - result : rank 10 in index (this is based on content and new title tag.

Search for 'great wall photo' - result : rank 8 (this is based on content PLUS filename).

If we assume (a big assumption but we have to make some assumptions) that there is a somewhat linear decrease in ranking of sites resulted 1 to 10 then the jump from 10 to 8 can be though of as very roughly a 20% jump. This would suggest that keywords in filenames count about as equally as in title tag. A doubling of keyword count and a 20%ish jump (not a higher jump because obviously links are still the same.

Ok, numbers are a wildish guess but to make the certain conclusion - filenames do count, probably, in my eyes as much as inclusion in title tag, but certainly to some extent (so long as in title or content as well as in filename).

Steve

Last edited by kina : 09-06-2006 at 12:32 AM. Reason: small mistake
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Old 09-06-2006   #15
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Tip

To anyone thinking about startng a new site - think carefully about your domain name - kewords (search terms) used in your domain name trump use anywhere else (Google and others). This is easy to check out.

So think carefully of your primary search term and name your domain accordingly. It is tip #1.

Steve
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Old 09-06-2006   #16
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Kina, you are making a mistake that a lot of people make. Actually, it's not a computer mistake, only a search engine mistake.

The filename "great_wall.htm" is a nonsense phrase to a search engine. The filename "great-wall.htm" contains the keywords "great" and "wall". For a search engine, the underscore character "_" is treated as a hard character.

Why? Because search engine programmers are, uh, programmers. Many coding commands (especially in C) use underscores as part of the command. If a C programmer went looking for help and the search engine interpreted the underscore as a space (which is does for a dash) then they would not find what they are looking for. It's a bit self centered, but that's how it is.

Rename those files using a dash and re-try your experiment - you'll end up with different results.

For the record, when I did my keyword misspelling tests, it was clear that the search engines ranked pages where the keyword was only in the filename. I did not test how well it worked against the title tag, but I suppose you could test the pages and check.

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Old 09-06-2006   #17
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A caveat

There is a caveat to lat #1 tip - which may be a big downer, depending on your field. Dependent on what that search term is, you are not guaranteed fisrt place in the listing. If the search term is too generic, there will be so many sites (including 'biggies') competing on it (perhaps without trying) that one is not placed well. It needs to be a bit unusual. Not something likely to be a major find in nytimes, bbc etc.
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Old 09-06-2006   #18
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Hi Ian,

that's not my experience - but i wll look into it.

Highlighting in resulys pages suggest that engines do understand underscaore as much as hyphen or even just conjoined words. It seems to me it treats all 3 equally.

But I can check further. Thanks, because that MIGHT be an important pointer.

Steve
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Old 09-06-2006   #19
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Hi Ian,

Offhand, it seems you are back to front here. An underscore delimits words whereas a hyphen joins them : for eample, bit-wise etc. Modern grammar is tending towards omitting hyphens and joing the two word bits into one long word. These days we dont write mis-placed but misplaced etc.

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Old 09-06-2006   #20
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Ahh - the highlighting issue. If you check around (do a few searches on the subject), you'll find that the highlighting that is applied after a search is presented is NOT the same as the how the search engine parses things before it's presented.

It's been tested and shown many times (that's why I recommend you do a search and see the results for yourself). The reason it's been tested so often is because of exactly the assumption you made - which everyone makes. No one believes it until they see for themselves.

This is a common misunderstanding, and is one of the wierdnesses of Google. You'd think it would be the same, but it's actually two completely different functions.

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