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Getting a ranking in search engine queries for highly competitive categories is becoming more and more difficult. The most important factor in getting a high ranking is to build a site that truly deserves to get a top ranking; a site that provides much useful information about the subject that is being searched for. However, in addition to providing relevant content, it is the presentation of the content that plays an important part in separating sites that reach the top of search engine queries and those that are buried on page 25. One factor in presentation and optimization that is often underestimated is the naming of files and directories.

Make a search for a keyword that is important to your site and look at the results that come up in the leading search engines. There is a very good chance that the keyword that you used in your search was contained somewhere in the url of the top sites. The keywords are sometimes contained in the domain name, or in other parts of the file name. One of my new clients has a site dealing with dieting. I made a search for dieting in Google, and found that 8 out of 10 of the top sites listed had the word dieting somewhere in the url, either in the domain name or in other parts of the file name.

So, the first thing to consider is whether it is possible to include your main keyword in your domain name. If you already have an established domain name and website, and the keyword is not included, then it is out of the question to change your domain name. However, in this case you can use some of the tips that follow in this article which will show you how to add your keywords to other parts of the url, and if you later set up any subsidiary domains related to your main domain, then try to work in your keyword or keywords into the new domain name.

Do the keywords have to be hyphenated in the domain names or file names? This has been a much contested issue, but if you look at how Google is presently handling queries you can make your own conclusions. If you make a query for a particular keyword in Google, and then pay a close look at the urls of the websites on the search results pages, you will see that the queried keyword appears in bold in the urls and they will be bold even when the keyword is combined with other words without hyphenation. So for Google at least you do not need to make a domain such as (as some people have done!).

Directories and File Names

While a lot of attention is usually paid to including the keyword in the domain names, less attention is paid to including the keyword in the inner files of the site. For example, when I did the query on the dieting, the top three sites did not have the word dieting in the domain name, but in the file names.

If you are in an extremely competitive category then you can experiment and make pages with your keyword in three different parts of the file name. If possible in the domain name, in the directory name and in the individual file name. Let’s take an example. Suppose your target keywords are "dvd players". You might want to register a domain name such as and then build a file such as this one The keywords are repeated three times in the url alone (in the domain name, in the directory name and in the file name)! Suppose you were not able to get the domain, then don’t worry about it just make a file such as . By the way if you don’t know the mechanics of directory and file naming, ask your webmaster and she will know what to do.

Don’t miss the chance to include your keywords in file names. Instead of making a file name that says "about.html" it would be better to make it "aboutdvdplayers.html." However, don’t overdo it. The file names should be short and easy to remember and also easy for you to find when you are editing the site, but there is no need to waste opportunities for optimization by naming your files: page1.html, page2.html and page3.html.

If you do not have relevant content then file naming alone won’t save you, however if you have a good site but are having trouble getting a top ranking, then make some experiments. Make a new directory named after your main keyword or keywords, and make a new file with this same keyword or keyword combination in the file name. Repeat these keywords in the title tag, description tag, in the body of the text and in the headers on that page and submit this new page to the search engines and see what happens.

This Web Marketing article was written by Donald Nelson on 3/22/2005

Donald Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the director of A1-Optimization (, a firm providing low cost search engine optimization, submission and web promotion services.