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Hyphen vs Underscore in file names
Does Google prefer hyphens or underscores to seperate words in file names

 3:34 am on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I was recently adding pages to a website when I read an article that said Google prefers hyphens to seperate words in file names compared to underscores. For example, filenames should be writen as blue-widgets.html instead of blue_widgets.html. Is this true and has anyone seen any benefits of using a - instead of a _?
I am sure that something so small would only contribute a small amount to the overall ranking of these pages but every bit counts.



 5:16 am on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome to the board, deej.

We've had this discussion many times, and there are proponents on both sides. You can find some of those by doing a site search (top of page), they make an interesting read.

From a user perspective, the underscores can easily get "lost" in an underlined link and be mistaken for a blank space, and if the domain name is hyphenated using hyphens lends a certain consistency to the look.

If you'll do searches for phrases using two words, hyphenated and underscored, it's an interesting study in the differences in results.


 6:46 am on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes. If you do a google search for hyphen it will show you no results. Do a search for underscore and it will show lots of results. Hence you can Assume that hyphens are ignored by google. Hence hyphens can be safely used to separate keywords in file names. HTH :)


 7:16 am on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I made a booboo recently and ended up with space characters in a huge number or URL's, they seem to work just as well as hyphens. I'm not recommending anyone follows this mistake as it becomes a real pain for maintenance.

Bottom line, use the hyphens over the underscores, but if you want some fun, space characters work as well!


 12:50 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)


The way that I understand this problem from past post is as follows.

Google reads the _ as part of the word, and reads - as a space.

red-blue is a 7 letter word
red_blue will be 8 letter word.

But from this if you do a search for red-blue, red blue, red-blue or redblue, the results are always different.

Why not just build these pages as - and _?


 1:30 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

red-blue is a 7 letter word
red_blue will be 8 letter word.

No! While red_blue is indeed a single meaningless 8 letter "word" red-blue is two words, "red" and "blue".


 4:02 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)


See googleguy's response in this thread:




 4:51 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

red-blue is a 7 letter word
red_blue will be 8 letter word.

in some cases, yes .. not always


 4:55 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Beth, Thanks for the definitive answer.


 4:57 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>red-blue is a 7 letter word

It's two words, one 3 letters and one 4 letters, with a hyphen separating them like a space.

There is no such 7 letter word; that would be purple, which is a 5 letter word.


 12:05 am on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thank-you all for your helpful feedback. I can now confidently add these pages knowing that google will read these pages the way I had intended them to be read.

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