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August 06 2013

Learn how to name your pages to be SEO friendly

Learn how to name pages Name your pages to be SEO friendly in the beginning of your website creation. This SEO strategy should be charted out before web development begins.

A few weeks ago I had a consulting call with a man who has been developing a website for one year with a sizable investment. By the end of the consulting call it became evident to me how easy a person who is naïve to search engine optimization could really be lead down the wrong path.

This post will be dedicated to a topic that seems common sense but obviously needs addressing.

PROPER PAGE NAMES


This particular website was created to sell advertising and serve information for travelers worldwide.

Our call initiated because the investor couldn’t understand why his website was not showing up in Google when his pages clearly had the information that he thought the searcher was looking to find.

Typically when we first start working with new clients they have been in the SEO world for a while and want to take it to the next level. This client usually has search engine friendly URLs, page names, page titles, title tags, meta description and on-page content reasonably optimized.

My assumption that all people or at least programmers would create a site to be search engine friendly was certainly proved wrong when I embarked on this website.

The man I consulted with had lofty goals that to him seemed easily attainable in both speed and action.

It was sad to explain to him how much work was needed before he would be in the game to play and compete on an even playing field with his top 10 Google competitors. His website could not even start competing until very basic changes were made to over 4800 pages.

When I looked at the website I was surprised to see that it was developed with cold fusion which I usually don’t see new sites created with today. I quickly moved past this and went on to understand some of the key words that he wanted to come up for.

We went ahead and started looking at his website and the pages looked something like this http://www.expatinformationguide.com/directory.cfm?country=CO&city=969&category=791

First, I’d like you to take a look at the structure of this URL and see what you think this page is about? I bet you’ll realize that it is some sort of information guide and maybe some directory but where and what is the page dedicated to? If you can’t figure it out then how will Google? This page is supposed to list Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings in Medellin, Antioquia, Columbia.

The first, basic and extremely important technique to understand if you want to actually be found in Google is to make sure your URL pages use actual descriptive words as opposed to numbers for identifiers.

In WordPress they call this permalinks and with the click of a few buttons you can tell your website to use permalinks as soon as a person creates a page name. I am a little bias to using WordPress as a CMS in today’s world but this can be set in Joomla, another content management system or by your custom programmer just as easily and efficiently in the beginning of coding a new website.

When creating a website at the stage of making your sitemap, I recommend to do your keyword research and pick keywords that you want to compete in. Name your pages correctly and make sure you have a clear understanding with your programmer that your SEO friendly URLS must reflect your focus key words.

In this case, after the programmer fixes the pages to read correctly make sure your programmer uses 301 redirects for each page. Don’t count on a 404 to show up on those old pages. That, Google will not like. Precisely, because if you make them look like a fool and serve their client a 404 page then they will likely become frustrated with your website as well.

There is the thought that 301 redirects will reduce page rank and this is true if the page already had page rank. Chances are these pages do not have any page rank therefore there will not be any page rank lost from the redirects. Page rank is not really important to this particular client because he is looking to be more relevant then his competitors. Google serves pages based on relevance and may serve a page with a lower page rank then it’s competitor because it is the better page to serve to the user searching.

Based on Google’s recent updates I wouldn’t even play the link / page rank game. If you have money and effort stick to creating authentic good solutions and information that Google and the searcher find easy to find and navigate.

After all the pages are fixed and properly redirected, add your website again to Google’s Webmaster Tools.

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