If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it

If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it

If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it

Quite a few times lately I’ve seen postings on various search engine forums, and I’ve gotten questions from prospective clients, wondering if they should change their page file names, or worse, their domain name, to be more “keyword-rich.” For some reason, the myth of the “keyword-rich URL” refuses to die.

If your site is already indexed in the search engines — and even more if it ranks well for any phrases you’d like to rank well for — you’re simply shooting yourself in the foot to change your URLs, especially if you’re doing it because you think there’s some kind of magical benefit to having keywords in the URL.

Any time you change your file names, you’re looking at a minimum of a month or two (possibly longer) of reduced rankings, perhaps even dropping out of the index entirely for a time, while the search engines spider your new pages and figure out the impact of the changes. And that’s even if you redirect all the old URLs to the new.

If you make the huge mistake of changing your actual domain name, you are potentially looking at up to a year before your new domain ranks as well in Google as your established domain did — if the site ever recovers fully.

And for what?

If there is any benefit to a keyworded URL (and no one has been able to prove conclusively there is), it’s very, very slight at best. Many say the only potential benefit would occur if someone happened to link to you using your actual page URL as the anchor text of their link (which often does not happen). Is it worth it to see a 20%, 30% or greater drop in business for a few weeks — or potentially a near-total loss of search engine traffic for a period of months — to gain an immeasurably small — and quite likely nonexistent — boost in the search engines?

I would say no. That’s really throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Don’t toss away all the work you’ve put in. Starting over is hard to do (and unnecessary in almost every case). Keep your URLs — just make the pages associated with them better.

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