Does Google care if keywords are in the URL / URI?
The simple answer to this is yes, so if that’s all you wanted to know, why not go read another post, although if you are interested in finding out how we worked this out, read on ………………….
Just for clarity the URL or URI is the actual address of something on the web, for example w’s.awebsite/folder/apage.html the terms URL and URI are one and the same thing (see the W3C website)
Having your main keyword or keywords (but don’t go silly) in the URL appears to be quite an important factor in the search rankings too, well specifically in Google at least, in fact even more so than having the keyword in other page elements.
So a quick example is to set up 3 new pages with equal amounts of text on them and a single link from the same page on a website (it does not matter if these are internal or external links, as long as they are indexed). Now you set the first page with a keyword which you have already checked nobody has optimised for, i.e. a string of alpha numeric characters, something like hfgfh657589gfhdhj should be fine, on this page you only use it in the URL. On the second page, you give it a different page name (test-page should be fine) but you then add your unique keyword in the title tag. On the third page add it to another page element, anything except the keywords, because as we all know these are ignored by Google now anyway.
Once they have been indexed, search your unique keyword in Google, you will find that the first result is the one with your keyword in the URL, second it’s in the title tag and not showing unless you click for the additional results is the other one you added.
So whilst not a totally scientific experiment, as I have only tried it once myself, this does give a strong indication that not only does Google pay attention to the keywords in the URL, but also gives it more weight than other elements on the page.
As a side note: If you only add that keyword to your keywords meta tag and search it in Google or Bing, they will not find the page at all, which shows that they actually ignore what is listed in the keywords meta tag, however run the same search in Yahoo and up pops your page, so it seems that Yahoo does still pay attention to the keywords tag. Quite how much importance it gives to the keyword tag, can’t be measured this way, as there is no competition, but it definitely reads them (for the moment at least).