SEO consultants spend a lot of time looking at websites. Moreover, like web designers, SEOs definitely “see” websites very differently than the average web user. Some days, it feels a little like the Matrix, where instead of seeing the streaming code, you see the people, cars and buildings that the code signifies. After doing web design, this is heightened even more, although perhaps inverted … instead of seeing shoes, cookware, and dog collars, I see title tags, heading tags, URL constructs and CSS.
Like any skill though, it takes continual honing and refining, along with the education. This is part of the concept behind the 60-Second Website Audit and training the eye to quickly identify key SEO issues and potential issues.
I’ve joked that, after so many audits, SEO consultants could probably do them blindfolded. So, whip out the blindfold and let’s put that to a test.
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Recently Matt Cutts blogged that:
doing the query [site:windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com] returns some urls like windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com /Blog/cns!D85741BB5E0BE8AA!174.entry . In general, urls like that sometimes look like session IDs to search engines. Most bloggy sites tend to have words from the title of a post in the url; having keywords from the post title in the url also can help search engines judge the quality of a page.
He then clarified his statement above, in the comments of that post:
Tim, including the keyword in the url just gives another chance for that keyword to match the user’s query in some way. That’s the way I’d put it.
What does this mean? It means that from Google’s perspective, keywords in your URLs are a useful thing to have. It’s another “signal” and can provide ranking benefits.
How should you separate these keywords? Not with underscores, that’s for sure. Matt Cutts has previously gone on the record to say that Google does not treat underscores as word separators. Use hyphens instead. Or plus signs would be okay too.
Also, I’d avoid too many hyphens in the URL, as that can look spammy. Try to keep it to three or fewer. Unless your site is powered by WordPress, in which case Google probably makes an exception for that, given how popular it is and how many legitimate bloggers have loads of hyphens in their permalink URLs. By the way, you can trim those down using the Slug Trimmer plugin for WordPress.
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