“Does MSN (& other search engines) rank a site differently if a key term being searched on is repeated within the entire URL?”
* Placing keywords in a URL doesn’t have enough effect to really worry
much about it in my experience. Do what is best for your visitors as
well as your webmaster. As far as optimization, focus more on
optimizing title tags and the actual content of your pages.
* I don’t believe that “shirts” will be read from the domain anyway – to
search engines unless there’s punction or spaces to break up words,
then joined words are more often than not going to be perceived as new
So “blueshirts” is not seen as “blue” + “shirts” but simply the word “blueshirts”.
Using keyword URLs can be useful, but ultimately are only one part of a
general “on-page elements” armour. (I’ve actually removed many of my
own keyworded URL, considering them as over-optimised and not useful
for human users – which is ultimately who is being optimised for).
As an additional point, though, it’s worth using your files as folder index files, such as:
because Search Engines actually read URLs rather than pages – so if you
change your URLs, such as having new page extensions – .shtml or .php
or .asp from .html – then you lose prior rankings and have to go
through all the indexing + ranking process all over again.
Folder paths removes that annoyance, and can make URLs much more natural, too.
First can seem tacky and over optimised, but the second looks far more natural as a long URL.
Instead of looking at it from an SEO standpoint, why not look at it from a usability standpoint. Your URIs should be natural
in appearance. They should follow your site structure to the “t”. If
you have a breadcrumb trail at the top of the page that looks like
Home > Autos > Chrysler > Crossfire
Then you will probably have a URI that looks like this…
It is only natural. Forget about the search engines when
developing your site structure. Think about your users and the
memorability of the URIs. Also think about how easily it is to navigate
a site where the URI paths are natural and follow the site structure.
From my perspective, keywords in the URI are part of the overall
equation. But, you can definitely go overboard. Too many hyphens,
strings too long, use of other delimiters, etc. Keep them short, sweet
and easy to remember and type in. Work from that standpoint and you’ll
be that much further ahead. It also makes site management and
maintenance a whole lot easier!