Once upon a time, I had a client who wanted to make her page URLs chock-full of keyphrases.
Her belief? A dermal fillers services page with the URL company.com/facials-aesthetic-services-botox-fillers-portland-oregon would have loads more positioning opportunities.
After all, the URL contains all the keyphrases. Won’t that support the content and help Google figure out what the page is about?
Well, yes (kinda.) And no.
Here’s how it breaks down.
It’s true that keywords in the URL have (some) SEO weight.
Unlike so many other funky SEO misconceptions, this one is (partially) correct.
John Mueller from Google has said that keywords in the domain is a “lightweight” ranking factor.
So, the keywords in the URL help — but only until the page is actually indexed (which ideally happens fairly quickly.) After that, Google keys off the page content.
That’s when the SEO magic truly happens.
If anything, you get a very short-term benefit from keywords in the URL…but long term, it’s all about the page content, baby.
Wait! Does that mean you don’t need keywords in your URLs?
Nope, not at all. If you have a services page focused around “small business accounting,” it would make sense to have a URL like company.com/small-business-accounting.
Sure, [small business accounting] is a keyphrase — but it also describes the page in a way that’s easily (and quickly) understood.
What you DON’T need is a URL like company.com/small-business-bookkeeping-accounting-quarterly-financials-corporations-sole-proprietor.
It won’t help you.
(This also applies to purchasing keyword-rich domain names. Buy them if it makes sense for you and your brand, but don’t do it from an SEO perspective expecting a Google bump. Again, it won’t help.)
Here’s a better way to look at keywords in your URLs.
Let’s consider who’s been left out of this SEO/URL discussion.
Imagine you create a keyphrase-stuffed URL that’s hard to read and parse. Two reader challenges immediately pop into my brain.
- When the URL is stuffed with needless keyphrases, it’s not immediately clear what the page is about.
- Your readers may perceive the URL as spammy (even if it’s not) and not share it as often.
Bottom line, it’s not worth it.
What do you think?
Have clients asked you about keyphrase-stuffed domain names? Have you fallen prey to the “more keyphrases are better in the URL trap?” (Hey, it happens!) Leave a comment and share your thoughts!