_hyphens_,_dashes_vs_underscores_

24 10 2008

It doesn’t matter the one you use. Searh engines for urls even database files (blog entries) can find out what you are looking for instead you write ‘em with dashes other with underscores.

Here, there is the new given by Matt Cutts, Google software engineer.

I got to enjoy Matt Cutts live and in person on Saturday speaking to the WordPress bloggers and fans at WordCamp 2007. Matt was in top form, witty as ever. The session was blogged by numerous folks. The sessions were all recorded, so, we hope, we should see a video of Matt’s session surface online pretty soon. Matt said he’d probably be posting his Powerpoint to his blog, assuming he gets approval from Google’s PR department.

One key development that Matt shared with the audience was that underscores in URLs are now (or at least very soon to be) treated as word separators by Google. That’s great news, because it historically hasn’t been that way. Back in 2005, Matt stated that Google did not view underscores in URLs as word separators. That meant that in a URL like http://www.mysite.com/iphone_review.html Googlebot couldn’t “see” the words iphone or review. Instead it read iphone_review as one word. I wouldn’t recommend targeting “iphone_review” as a keyword, as I doubt anyone will be including an underscore in their Google query.

So it used to be–until now–that any benefit that you would have gotten by having a keyword-rich URL was negated by the use of underscores separating those words. TypePad and Movable Type blogs were particularly affected by this, as by default, underscores were used instead of hyphens. This new change in the Google algorithm should make bloggers using the TypePad service or the Movable Type blog software (and anyone else using underscores in their URLs) very happy, as I anticipate their Google traffic will be going up.

Dashes (hyphens) can be part of a word, thus joining words with hyphens that already include hyphens is ugly/confusing.

Bad:

/low-budget-movies

Good:

/low-budget_movies

Hyphens are logical wrap points for text bodies.

Underscores replace spaces where whitespace is not allowed.

So… I like the most using underscores than dashes and theres’ no rule about to set that doing it in other way would be better. Don’t say it’s not a good use. Dots aren’ really, you use ‘em and I don’t say if you’re in the right way or you aren’t.


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