Can keyword-rich URLs help my rankings?

Posted by Fernando Chavez on December 16th, 2009

The short answer to this question is yes, but the real answer is much more complicated. While we believe that having a keyword in your URL might be a small ranking factor, the more significant benefit comes if/when you are able to obtain external links to your intended landing page.

Any internal links going to your landing page are going to contain normal anchor text. However, when other Web sites link to your site, they will often link with the URL as the anchor text as in the following example:

<a href=””></a>

The anchor text in this example is the URL of our home page. If someone linked to the SEO Cipher home page in this way, then the word “SEO” can be parsed by the search engines and there would be some anchor text benefit passed through the link for that keyword. Although the benefit might not be as high as it would if the anchor text was “SEO Cipher” or “search engine optimization”, it is still better than having no anchor text at all.

So to sum up, the SEO ranking benefit you might see from having a keyword in your URL is not necessarily going to be direct. You’re not going to suddenly start ranking for a keyword simply by publishing a page on your site with the keyword in the file name. However, you might see some benefit in the long run if 3rd party sites link to your page because you are much more likely to have a keyword in the inbound anchor text. You should try to get the page’s main keyword phrase in the URL for that reason. With that said, you should avoid stuffing too many keywords into your URLs. There isn’t enough benefit to warrant the negative effects on readability. Additionally, people might think your site is filled with spam if there are 10 words and hyphens in all your URLs.

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