This third article in our SEO series discusses ‘names’. A well-considered web address and good page names can boost the relevance of search terms used within your site. If you’ve not already seen our other SEO articles that lead you to this point, read our introduction to search engine optimization and the follow-up article on optimizing site text in WebPlus.
Domain name – your web address
Get your own!
As mentioned in our first SEO article, having a good think about your customers will provide the foundation for marketing your website, and you can fine tune your keyword choices with some research. Here’s how it applies to your web address: buy your own domain name, preferably containing one or more of the keywords you’ve used in your site.
Using a fictional example, you run a pet grooming business called Clare’s Pet Care LLC, based in the small city of Therruck in the county of Hampshere. Your marketing has unearthed that everyone in Therruck with a car could reach you within 15 minutes, and so could 75% of the county. Your local catchment area is broad but doesn’t really extend across to other counties. You definitely can’t target the rest of the country, or the world; long distance travel and courier delivery aren’t viable options. You have chosen ‘pet grooming’ and ‘Hampshere’ as the main keywords to be woven into your site, so a domain name of hampsherepetgrooming.com will promote your site better than clarespets.free-web-address.net. You can check the availability of web addresses or buy your domains using a domain name registrar or as part of setting up Serif Web Hosting.
Is it worth it?
Yes, but the importance of a keyword-laden domain name isn’t as high as it used to be. Google and other search engines now focus much harder on what visitors actually want from sites and whether sites achieve it. Search engines measure visitor satisfaction in a number of ways and the methods are always improving so, as we’ve stressed before, providing visitors with relevant, useful and fresh content is key. As with similar tips to resist “cheating” for better results, avoid the temptation to produce variants of your site each with its own keyword focus and matching address. Google are wise to this SEO tactic and can penalise a whole group of domains when they detect “keyword stuffing”. Focus on one great site. It’s ideal for your domain name and website to both mention your chosen keywords, and for the name and content to complement or match each other.
Multiple web addresses
It’s fine to buy multiple domains pointing to one site, e.g. also directing therruckpetgrooming.com, clarespetcare.com, clairespetcare.com, or therruck-pet-care.com to the same site as described above. Buying multiple domains all leading to the same site can help with people typing your address straight into an address bar if they only remember part of your address, business name, or if they misspell, but it will have limited effect on search ranking.
We’ve shown examples with and without hyphens where spaces would otherwise be used. Limited use of hyphens should make no difference to SEO. They could be important to differentiate some words (consider the well cited Experts Exchange example), but shouldn’t be used for sentence-length domain names. SEO analysis aside, an address without hyphens is easier to say and type.
Registering multiple domains can also protect your brand by preventing other companies from registering similar addresses, innocently or otherwise, and preventing domain squatters from buying addresses to sell at inflated cost.
Last but not least, make sure you don’t lose your domain names – if you can, auto-renew your ownership, keep your payment details up to date with your domain provider and resist handing administrator rights over to other people.
Page names (actually ‘page titles’)
Like text headings, page titles are part of your website’s HTML code as generated by WebPlus. Page titles serve multiple purposes: they appear in web browsers as shown above, and they appear in search results. For search results, you can afford long titles; for browsers they need to be short to be useful. A happy medium is probably best, but some rules can guide you to a useful title for each page. And again like headings, there’s an easy way for you to control this within WebPlus too.
Often when SEO companies advise about page names, there’s usually an assumption that you’re either planning your site, or your site is already well organised into useful pages, that it’s well structured, fast to load and easy to navigate. We’ll assume, as mentioned in an earlier article, that each of your pages should have a clear purpose, delivering distinct and useful content, preferably content that is entirely unique to that page (while also inevitably containing generic terms such as popular keywords). Content should not be duplicated from one page to another within your site: remember that a high quality site is the most important SEO goal.
Setting page names
There are three variables you can get to in the Edit > Page Properties window: page name, page title, and file name. The page title is the one we really need to optimize. In WebPlus, the page title and page name are usually the same, but you can make them different if you want to see a certain name while designing compared to the title that visitors and search engines will see.
Assuming your page name and page title are the same as each other for each page, let’s treat them as one thing, I’m going to call it a page name from here on. The file name is as it sounds – e.g. contactus.html, which contains all your page text. You should choose useful file names that match your page names, rather than leaving the default “page19.html” one. Keep your file names lowercase and without spaces or symbols.
Keeping concise using keywords
As each of your pages has a particular purpose, choosing unique, useful names should be easy and should incorporate your marketing keywords. For example, if your page talks about a specific task, say removing the back cover of a particular version of the Apricot uPhone to replace a dead battery, the best key words are likely “replace”, “Apricot”, “uPhone” and “battery”. A perfectly good sounding page name such as:
Would be better said as:
The second example is easier to read and describes the page’s purpose with a higher density of keywords, and those keywords are nearer the front of the name. This makes it easier for your visitors and search engine bots to understand.
As with your content, don’t stuff page names with keywords for the sake of it – it should make sense to your customers, stay on topic with your page content, and contain keywords as they are the foundation of your site’s information. Keep names below 60 characters in length; Google search results can display more in its search results but shorter is usually better. Aim to describe your page accurately in 5 to 10 words.
Some would recommend placing your company or organization name in each page’s name, but this can detract from their usefulness in tabbed web browsers. Consider using your company name in the page name for your home page, pages about you, and your contact and find us pages, as they really are about your company. For other content pages, viewers will likely know what company’s site they are on without it being in the title, or they will care far more about the content they have found so your company name can come later in the page name. They’ll still see your branding with your logo present in a consistent site design.
There are more articles to come on the subject of optimizing WebPlus sites for search engines and you can already learn more in our introduction to SEO and our article about optimizing your text. Subscribe to our blog for regular updates or visit www.serif.com/blog/tag/seo/ to see all related content.