SEO File Nomenclature


Defining File Nomenclature


File nomenclature is a misleadingly complex term; really, all it means is “naming your files.” When combined with SEO, it means naming files or page URLs in a way that will trigger keyword searches via search engines. Keywords aren’t just for written content, after all. However, there is quite possibly nothing more elusive to most web developers than a simple way to organize and name thousands of files or pages, while keeping proper SEO practices in mind. These files must be separated based on specific criteria for each product page, category page and landing page throughout an entire site, and the SEO must be white hat, not black hat.

When naming files, you can’t spam a page with images filed under “kitten” just to get higher SEO ranking when the images are clearly infographics on your business model. You can, and should, name videos, podcasts and other files or links on your site in a way that targets your SEO and keyword process. As with most of SEO, it sounds much more labor-intensive and difficult than it is. There are a ton of resources to help you set up a nomenclature file process, and maintain it to keep your site going.

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SEO File Nomenclature

File Naming Conventions

Many developers or owners have a process for some things they do in regards to the project. Some people have a daily schedule for adding content (like on a blog), some may link their content via social media sites daily, others have weekly keyword updates and some have monthly analytics performed. These are all habits and systems that developers have created, and file nomenclature is not much different. File naming convention (FNC) is just a basic naming system that lets you structure files in a specific way, so they are both easy to find when you need them, and are optimized for search engines.

SEO File NomenclatureSEO File Nomenclature
SEO File Nomenclature

Keyword Analysis

Once you have a file naming system in place, you can begin to use your file names to advance your SEO using keywords. By now, you’ve hopefully performed a keyword analysis. This is a fairly basic tool provided by many services and search engines that shows you which keywords fit best with your specific market, website, product or service.

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SEO File Nomenclature

Keyword Density

Once you find a good set of keywords that work well for your SEO traffic, it is very tempting to repeat the keywords and place them in places they don’t need to be (often called “keyword stuffing”). Returning to the previous example, you can’t add “diabetes” after every nutritional supplement name or description, and you can’t type “diabetes diabetes diabetes” over and over again just to increase your search ranking.

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SEO File Nomenclature

Using Keywords in File Names

By now, you understand the power of SEO to get more traffic to your website. You’ve incorporated keywords into your content and have increased your rank on the SERPs. You’ve toed the line on keyword density and focused on applying keywords only where they make sense on your website, engaging in white hat SEO to get the most attention possible from the search engines. However, many people are unaware that they can increase their keyword density by simply tagging their files (images, videos, podcasts, links, etc.) with keywords and including keywords in page names.

SEO File NomenclatureSEO File NomenclatureSEO File NomenclatureSEO File NomenclatureSEO File NomenclatureSEO File NomenclatureSEO File NomenclatureSEO File NomenclatureSEO File NomenclatureSEO File Nomenclature
SEO File Nomenclature

Quantity Makes a Difference

In addition to naming your files, you should also name your pages and links to useful URLs in the same style as your FNC. By doing so, you’re creating a more appealing website location, like www.website.com/about-us rather than www.website.com/ 12568914_about_1432324_us or something to that effect. This means that the keywords in your URL can be located easier via searches. Links need to be styled similarly, so visitors can find them through keywords as well.

SEO File Nomenclature

No Black Hat SEO

SEO File Nomenclature

How to Use FNC in Your Marketing Plan

A Step Ahead of the Competition


Surely, when you started out on your website development journey, you didn’t expect there to be so many aspects that you’d have to learn and embrace to succeed. While it’s undeniable that there is a lot to this “whole website thing,” it is also easy to see that the steps you take in web development will pay off when it comes to your business or message you wish to expand.

By understanding the basics of website development, you’re putting yourself a notch above your competition. By having a well-designed website, a thorough understanding of SEO operations and principles and now an understanding of the importance of file nomenclature, you leave others in your market in the dust. By increasing your SEO through FNC, you’re enabling yourself to reach more people through more avenues (images/videos/podcasts/links) rather than just your website or wherever you choose to share your information. By utilizing this little-known aspect of an online marketing strategy, you’re better able to earn the traffic, subscriptions, sales and viewers you’re truly aiming for.

File Naming Conventions

Many developers or business owners have a process for some things they do in regards to the project. Some people have a daily schedule for adding content (like on a blog), some may link their content via social media sites daily, others have weekly keyword updates and some have monthly analytics performed. These are all habits and systems that developers have created, and file nomenclature is not much different. File naming convention (FNC) is just a basic naming system that lets you structure files in a specific way, so they are both easy to find when you need them, and are optimized for search engines. For example, this may be a specific formula that you develop, such as photocredit-photosubject-projectname.jpg or any order therein. There are some do's and don't's for file naming for SEO purposes, however.

  • Avoid shortened terms, as this limits your SEO results (do not use "sem" for seminar, "prod" for product, etc.).
  • Try not to use dates, as this pushes your SEO further back.
  • Use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) to ensure that keywords are separated and easy to read when a link is underlined.
  • Do not use an excessively long file name. Get to the point, and eliminate extraneous numbers, words or symbols.
  • Include your filename in your page URL, like www.website.com/blog/photocredit-photosubject-projectname

You need a system for naming each file so every file is consistent with the next. Instead of wondering how you will name each new file, page or project, you already know your FNC and only have to focus on filling in your formula for each. Many people use this process for their personal files with great success, but as a website owner and developer, you're looking for file names that work for you in more ways than just organization.

Keyword Analysis

Once you have a file naming system in place, you can begin to use your file names to advance your SEO using keywords. By now, you've hopefully performed a keyword analysis. This is a fairly basic tool provided by many services and search engines that shows you which keywords fit best with your specific market, website, product or service. These keywords can be very useful in increasing search traffic, but you also need to review the keywords to ensure they accurately depict what you're offering on your site. If you're selling nutritional supplements, and a keyword analysis pops up with "diabetes" as one of the keywords, you have to do some thinking. While it may be applicable in an extended way, your content doesn't directly deal with diabetes. There are also some other keyword analysis tips we'll go over later on this page.

Keyword Density

Once you find a good set of keywords that work well for your SEO traffic, it is very tempting to repeat the keywords and place them in places they don't need to be (often called "keyword stuffing"). Returning to the previous example, you can't add "diabetes" after every nutritional supplement name or description, and you can't type "diabetes diabetes diabetes" over and over again just to increase your search ranking. Unfortunately, people tried "tricks" like this in the early days of search engine and ranking algorithms and managed to get away with it. Today, however, search engine algorithms have matured, and this practice is thankfully no longer acceptable. There is a "Goldilocks zone" for most websites regarding their keyword density, which we will go over later.

Using Keywords in File Names

By now, you understand the power of SEO to get more traffic to your website. You've incorporated keywords into your content and have increased your SERP. You've toed the line on keyword density and focused on applying keywords only where they make sense on your website, engaging in white hat SEO to get the most attention possible from the search engines. However, many people are unaware that they can increase their keyword density by simply tagging their files (images, videos, podcasts, links, etc.) with keywords and including keywords in page names.

Using a different FNC as mentioned before, you can place keywords into the file links, and boost your SEO. When people search for an image, you have tagged specific words into your image, and that image will pop up in the image search, and lead to a "click-through," increasing your traffic. The same goes for videos and podcasts. If you have a video on a platform like YouTube, you can place a keyword in the file links, share the link on social media or website, and benefit from searches in your keyword category. This will lead people to your YouTube channel, and your views and subscribers increase. For podcasters, linking to your podcast with keywords in the file name can help people find your subject matter easily, and allow them to click through to your actual podcast, increasing your downloads and subscriptions exponentially. This is why social platforms like Pinterest are such great marketing tools. The images and thumbnails on Pinterest get tagged with keywords and allow an accumulation of images to be opened, providing links to the original source of the content.

Quantity Makes a Difference

In addition to naming your files, you should also name your pages and links to useful URLs in the same style as your FNC. By doing so, you're creating a more appealing website location, like www.website.com/about-us rather than www.website.com/12568914_about_1432324_us or something to that effect. This means that the keywords in your URL can be located easier via searches. Links need to be styled similarly, so visitors can find them through keywords as well.

To increase your traffic, you need to have a combination of files, pages and links all with your common FNC present. This makes it easier for you to spread your SEO across all three methods and makes it more likely that your keyword campaign will be effective. This is different than excessive keyword density because it's not just your content you're cramming keywords into. By spreading your keywords into your content, your URLs, your links and your file names, you're providing multiple ways for SEO to work. However, some people still manage to abuse this method.

No Black Hat SEO

There is one thing to always remember when working with SEO: quality over quantity. While it is so tempting just to use every platform for SEO marketing, including your content, social media, backlinks, URLs and sub domains and file names, it's crucial that you walk, not run. There are a couple of reasons for not spamming your website and external sites with keywords, the first of which being the retribution you can receive for doing so. Obviously, you don't want to build a website and put a lot of effort into it, only to have it shut down by Google or another search engine for black hat SEO.

Another reason to not attack every surface with your keywords is because, sorry to say, keywords change, and they change frequently. Website developers have to create a strategy for maintaining, and changing, keywords and other approaches to SEO. Wouldn't it be awful to fill all of your files, URLs, links and content with a specific set of keywords, only to find that they are less effective over time and need to be changed? Then you have to remember where you placed each keyword and change them all accordingly. Be smart about your SEO file nomenclature plan, and avoid this time-consuming hiccup.

How to Use FNC in Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan is crucial to the success of your business, personal brand, service or products you are selling on your website. Marketing plans are quite complex at times, especially based on the needs of a specific project. For most websites, a marketing plan involves SEO (keywords, analytics on clicks/sales/subscribers, rank on the SERPs, etc.), and attempts to increase SEO rankings via any means possible. This means that backlinks, social media, online ads and many other venues are open for discussion in your marketing plan. However, one of the most important topics in any marketing plan discussion is the use of file nomenclature. Without a file nomenclature process, there will be no specific layout to images, videos, links, URLs or pages. It is crucial that each of these many components within a single website have matching FNC, utilize common keywords that work together and are well-designed so they’re visually appealing and contain reliable content.

When you have a poor file nomenclature process, this can also hurt your marketing strategy. As mentioned before, there are ramifications to having a black hat SEO approach, and while sometimes file naming snafus are unintentional, you need to have a good system in place to avoid them. For example, there are often keyword links attached to photos that do not match with the image a person is seeing. Hover over any picture on an Internet browser, and you will see the link associated with that image pop up at the bottom of your browser. If what you're showing in the picture or content does not match up with your FNC, you're never going to get that click-through. Use your FNC as a way to give people a preview of the content you can provide, in the simplest terms possible. That's the only way to truly market your website.

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