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Thread: Hyphens or Underscore

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    GameOver's Avatar
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    Hyphens or Underscore

    I was just reading a post over at jim karters website (specifically "50 Search Engine Ranking Factors") and I came across this point:
    40. Using “-” hyphen (and not “_” underscore) in your file names wherever space is needed.
    Just to clarify, he is saying use hyphen, not underscore?

    What do you think of this? I use underscore on my website, should I go through and change each individual page?

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    Well, I use hyphens all over, and yes, they are better for SEO than underscores.
    If you can change that I think you should, but remember to redirect old pages.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shenron View Post
    Well, I use hyphens all over, and yes, they are better for SEO than underscores.
    If you can change that I think you should, but remember to redirect old pages.
    Ok, I will change to hyphens. I am not too familiar with redirecting pages. What type of redirect should I use/how do I do it? (if you could link to a web page rather than explaining it that would be fine).

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    May be a better way to explain this but here is how I understand google sees them

    googleseesunderscroreslikethisthis

    google sees hyphens like this

    so one way its a long word making no sense the other gives individual words.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Bill View Post
    May be a better way to explain this but here is how I understand google sees them

    googleseesunderscroreslikethisthis

    google sees hyphens like this

    so one way its a long word making no sense the other gives individual words.
    That's a good way of explaining it, I will change over my URL's in the next few days. Do you think I will notice an increase in SERPs?

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    You might notice an increase not sure of the weight G gives to well names urls. I know this works awesome for naming images. I would honestly think you would since you are now making the urls more friendly. Be interested to see a SEO gurus opinion on how much this could benefit a site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Bill View Post
    You might notice an increase not sure of the weight G gives to well names urls. I know this works awesome for naming images. I would honestly think you would since you are now making the urls more friendly. Be interested to see a SEO gurus opinion on how much this could benefit a site.
    The results will be interesting, I will post back here with results over the next few months.

    Still waiting for that question about redirects to be answered....... anyone?

    Thanks.

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    Not sure of a site off the top of my but you want to use a 301 redirect for each page url you change to point to the new url.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Bill View Post
    Not sure of a site off the top of my but you want to use a 301 redirect for each page url you change to point to the new url.
    Just finished updating all the pages on my site. Now I will wait for google to re-index the pages and hopefully I will get an increase in SERPS

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    Probably a better way to put it would be to say that

    google_sees_underscrores_like_this <-- as one word

    where as

    google sees hypens like this <-- hypens are ignored.

    You can see this by doing searches in Google for

    web site <-- 2,520,000 results

    versus

    web-site <-- 2,550,000 results - approximately same as above, and top ranking pages are the same.


    versus

    web_site <-- 1,400,000 results - mostly URLs using web_site in the URL, and the top ranking pages are different than above

    The last result implies that Google does take the URL into account in rank results. However, no one searches using underscores in a search phrase, so there isn't any benefit when you use them.

    Matt Cutts has stated that the structure of the URL will not affect rankings, but using keywords seperated by hyphens does help spiders determine the keyword theme for a page. The theme is what determines which search phrases the page represents, so his statement is a bit conflicting.

    He also stated over six months ago that Google would soon be treating underscores in URLs the same as hyphens, but you can see that this has not yet been implemented, at least in the search results. It is possible that is has been implemented in the ranking algorithm.

    I take everything that Matt says with a grain of salt. He also says that there is not such thing as a duplicate content penalty. He says Google just reduces the ranking ability for pages with duplicate content. Huh? That sounds like a penalty to me. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

    @GameOver, you will have to use 301 redirects for all of your URLs or you may do more harm than good to your rankings, at least in the short term.

    If your site is not too large and you are on an Apache server, you could add a redirect directive for each page like this:

    PHP Code:
    redirect 301 my_web_page.php http://www.mydomainname.com/my-web-page.php 
    You would have to add one of these to the .htaccess file for each page in the site.

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