SEO Basics My Father Can Understand: Page URLs

by Matt Sullivan on March 22, 2010

My father is currently turning his small-business website into a lead generation machine. Part of this process requires making it easy for potential customers to find his website, and that means Search Engine Optimization.

As always: I am not an SEO consultant or “guru”. I just understand the process & best practices of optimization. Most of my SEO education comes from thought-leaders like HubSpot, SEOmoz, and Matt Cutts. My expertise is that I can explain things to my 65-year-old father.

Like so many things on the Internet, the term URL is a three-letter acronym. In this case, URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator. The URL is essentially the address of your web page. Each page on your site has it’s own address (URL) and how you use that address plays a role in your search engine optimization efforts.

Your URL is broken into two parts: the site’s domain and the page’s location on the domain. For example “www.inboundstrategy.com” is the domain of my web page, and the individual page locations come after the .com part. Since most people aren’t going to change their domain, we’ll focus on how to use the page location of the URL in your optimization efforts.

Dyn Inc. - Managed DNS ServicesFor this lesson, we’ll be looking at the page for the Dynect Platform, an enterprise managed DNS platform from Manchester, NH based DNS provider Dyn, Inc. Dyn is doing a lot of great things with the URL “http://dyn.com/dynect“, and I’ll explain why. Then also explain how they can be doing better.

  1. Use Relevant Keywords in Your URL. In this case, the page is about Dyn’s Dynect platform. The URL is very clear in that regards. Outside of helping search engines better index your site, it is also very readable by people, and people are important, too.
  2. Make the URL Readable. If your URL is readable, it makes much more sense to a site visitor. If there is a link created to your page, the keywords in your URL will act as a good default anchor text. If a referring site has good anchor text for your link, it will help the association of your link with the appropriate keywords.
  3. Hyphens are the Best Separator. Similar to the way that pipes (“|”), will help separate your page titles, hyphens are the best way to divide the words in your URL.

If we take a look back at Dyn’s URL we see that they use a keyword in the URL (Dynect is their Enterprise DNS platform) and  the URL is short & readable. Any critique here is purely nitpicking.

My suggestions for Dyn would be to change the URL tohttp://dyn.com/dynect-dns-platform. This change would put more keywords ( “DNS” & “Platform”) in the URL, and the URL becomes more readable by people (people are still the focus of the web), while the hyphens help the search engines better index the page for “dynect”, “dns”, “platform”, and the other combination of the words.

I hope my friends at Dyn (yes, I have friends that work at Dyn), take some the advice and start ranking a little better.

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