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As a newcomer to the professional practice of SEO I am still trying to familiarise myself with the relative importance of the multitude of factors that can affect a site's search engine positions for various search terms. There are just so many to consider. When engaged in an SEO project we may initially make a whole range of changes and tweaks so it is difficult to know exactly how much each has contributed towards subsequent search engine position changes. However, a recent experience appears to reinforce the significance of an appropriately chosen URL filename.
One of our SEO client companies is a vehicle contract hire and leasing firm. A few short weeks ago we were asked to begin to apply some focus to the competitive keyphrases 'van leasing' and 'van lease'. On site modifications were underway to bring focus to this aspect of the companies business and these included choosing and applying suitable page titles, meta descriptions and copy for the commercial vehicle related pages of their site.
The page that the client wanted indexed for the search terms 'van leasing' and 'van lease' had been named 'commercial-contract-hire.htm'. This was changed to 'van_leasing.htm' with an appropriate rewrite rule. At that time they were sitting at around #98 in Google UK for the term 'van leasing' and around #58 for the term 'van lease'.
After having made the URL filename change some modest promotion of the van leasing aspect of the business was carried out. Seven days after making the change the site had been crawled by the Google and the newly named page was now appearing at #24 for 'van leasing' and #18 for 'van lease'. A significant improvement in only seven days!
Whilst this is clearly not a controlled experiment with the effects of only one change being accurately quantified it does appear to reinforce the importance of choosing URL filenames that include primary keywords or phrases that are relevant to the page content, title and description.
This is not news but it is a relatively simple aspect of SEO which appears to be overlooked by many sites. Just enter almost any sensible search term and then look at the sites listed on some of the lower SERPs. For the term 'van leasing' these are some of the URL filenames that are being used by other businesses involved in van leasing:
SEO is all about paying attention to an extensive array of details, URL filenames being but one of these details. Relevant, appropriately chosen URL filenames will not magically result in a page rising from obscurity to prominence overnight but they are a key ingredient in the SEO stew.