Ingredient Four: URL Structure
Sometimes Google is so easy to read that people miss what it's trying to tell them. The role of the URL in SEO is one of those times. Simply put, your main keyword should be in your URL. Preferably, it should be the entire URL. For example, if you own a video-sharing site and your keyword is funny videos, the best domain name you could ever get is http://www.funnyvideos.com. If you have many keywords, as most webmasters do, you'll want to make sure that every keyword has its own landing page with the keyword somewhere in the URL. The most standard way to format keyword-specific URLs is as follows:
When I speak about this topic, I always get lots of questions about the best way to include your keywords in your URL. So let me break it down for you. We'll start with the most fundamental part of your URL: your domain name. I'm sure Google has some dusty tablets lying around that define the top-level domains (or TLDs, such as .com, .net, .org) they trust the most, but the most I can do is give you my educated guess.
When choosing a domain name, you should first try to get your keyword in a .com form (for example, http://www.funnyvideos.com). If you can't get that—which you probably can't without paying the spammer who probably owns the domain lots of money—try for the .net or the .org version of that domain. If you can't get either of those, you will definitely be able to find a domain name that has your keyword in it with another word before it, as in http://www.yourfunnyvideos.com. While far less valuable than http://www.funnyvideos.com, a domain name with an extra word in it will give you some extra ranking credibility with Google for that keyword. If you can't manage to find a domain with your main keyword in it, you can either try a hyphenated domain (such as http://www.best-funnyvideos.com) at the risk of looking a bit low quality, or simply use a URL without a keyword in it and optimize a page that is named after your main keyword, as in http://www.yoursite.com/funnyvideos.
If you have multiple very important keywords and have time and money, buying multiple URLs, one for each keyword you care about, is a strategy I've seen work quite well for clients. But keep in mind that each URL will need its own website with unique content. If you try to throw the same website on multiple URLs, Google may penalize all but one of them for having duplicate content.
There are probably many people reading this book who do not have the option of deciding how to integrate their keywords into their domain names because they already have a website or need to use the names of their companies as their domain names. If that's your situation, you should focus on having an excellent URL structure for all the pages on your site. And in this case, excellent means simple.
Determine your keywords in advance and have a separate web page for every keyword that has the keyword as the full name of the page, as follows:
Remember what we went over in the "Ingredient Two: The Meta Page Title" section of this chapter: Your meta page title should contain the keyword that your page is about, as well. A content management system (CMS) like WordPress will automatically create these kinds of URLs for you. They call them SEO-friendly URLs, and they work quite well. Some CMSs, on the other hand, create dynamic URLs that look sort of like this:
These types of pages, although readable by Google, are not as helpful to your site's Google rankings as simple, static URLs such as the ones I listed previously. When executed correctly, a page on your website designed to attract searches for a particular keyword should look like the site in Figure 2.8.
Figure 2.8 A website with a recommended URL structure and meta page title when the keyword being targeted is pregnancy..
This page is targeting the keyword pregnancy, and so its URL is correctly formatted oh-so-simply as http://www.fornewmoms.com/pregnancy. Note that the meta page title also includes the word pregnancy.
After you have your keywords together, links to your website, proper meta page titles, and the correct URL structure, you've done an excellent job impressing Google. Like a well-prepared prom date, you have shown up to meet your date's parents looking your best, armed with compliments, polite manners, and diplomatic answers. And you've succeeded: The parents like you! But you haven't earned their trust quite yet.