Continuing our look at the second level elements of search engine optimisation, we come on to the actual page file name, or “URL”. This plays two roles. Firstly, it’s a massive clue to the search engines as to the content of the page. They’re certainly better at reading the actual content of a web page than they ever were, but given two similar pages, one of which is called “blue-widgets.html” and another which is called “awfeh56pp8.html”, which do you think is going to present itself as being more relevant for a search on “blue widgets”?
And it’s not just the machines you need to worry about, either. Users of the search engines get a more appealing display if the search term is in the actual URL, for two reasons: it looks like the page is going to be directly relevant, and Google helpfully puts the search term in bold. See how the second result below has the edge over the first if you tune your eyes to the green text:
After showing these two in that order for a while, if the second one is getting clicked on more than the first, the positions of the two are quite likely to get reversed: “clickthrough rate” does appear to have a bearing on page ranking. So it’s worth giving your pages relevant filenames if you can, although for many people, lumbered with a big old corporate content management system, I know that’s not an option. For the rest of you, take advantage of your opportunity.