Basic Search Engine Optimisation Tips – Naming

March 30, 2011 by  Filed under: SEO 

Optimising or developing your website to improve the position it gets in search engine listings can be a complex and frustrating task. One of the key pieces of guidance you will continually see is that best results for any given page will be achieved if the page title, the page file name, the page content, the page content header, and ideally, the site name, all contain specific, focused words relevant to what you say the page is about.

This is a lot easier said, than done. However, if you accept this as good advice, the next step is to get the physical side of your naming in the best form for both the searcher, and the search engine.

I will use an imaginary business called Johnson Builders based in Cambridge as an example of how the naming of page elements can be critical. (By the way, it is important that we acknowledge that opinions differ on matters SEO – and discussion can get quite heated, but these things have worked for me, and are well documented in respected websites and literature.)

First off, I need to highlight the importance of the “-“, the hyphen!! Search engines read symbols in different ways, and the key advantage of terms connected by hyphens is that the search engine reads the term for the individual words that make it up. So if the About Us page title for the Johnson site is “About Johnson Builders – Cambridge”, there is no reason that the page file name should not be “johnson-builders-about-us.html”, or even “johnson-builders-cambridge-about-us.html”. (Although you might need to be a bit careful about it becoming too long and unwieldy.)

Now consider the website norm. A Google search for “about us” will get you something like 2.6 million results!! So we have good evidence that using the page name “About Us” will not improve our search engine results, but what about the examples we have got for Johnsons, above?

The key thing here, is that the search engine can, and will read the individual words – because of the hyphen. Had we put “johnsonbuilders.html”, or “johnsonbuilderscambridgeaboutus.html” as the file names a searcher would have to ask for exactly “johnsonbuilders”, or “johnsonbuilderscambridgeaboutus” for this to be a useful search file name. However, with the hyphenated naming we have above, a searcher could put in “johnson bulders”, or “builders cambridge”, or “johnsons cambridge”, and if the webpage is reasonably well optimised, it might well get listed.

OK, so let’s briefly take a look at these principals when used in relation to site names – the URL. Obviously, this is great if you can plan it in, please do not consider dumping your current name just to utilise the hyphenated version!!

Staying with the Johnson Builders example, consider the massive power of a domain name like when the page it takes you to relates to something connected to a building company based in Cambridge called Johnson Builders!! From a searcher, and a search engine perspective a name set out like this reinforces other optimisation, and goes a long way to improving the sites’ position when searched for. Every word can be utilised because with the ‘magical’ hyphen it will be read for what it is!!

Just going back to the points made when opening this article, there is no suggestion that naming like this will solve any of your optimisation issues, however, what it might do is help shunt your site just that little bit further up the search engine listings.

Good Luck!!

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