Yes, hyphens do separate words.
I seem to remember someone posting on the fact that even the underscores are now being picked up on and Google "separates" the words although I haven't seen it yet.
What I have seen as probably nearly everyone else has, is that Google is now highlighting keywords in the URL. I don't know if this is factoring into the algorithm but it is picking up on them.
|troels nybo nielsen|
Keywords in URLs are good to have mainly for one reason: They make it easier FOR HUMANS to recognise, understand and remember a URL wherever they may see it.
Those keywords may also give you a slight advantage in the algos of search engines, but don't count on it.
Hyphens vs underscores? Google's technologies change all the time. What is impossible today may be possible tomorrow. If you want to be sure that Google's algo reads the keywords in your URLs you should use hyphens. But if you have old pages with keywords in the URL separated by underscores there is no need to panic and put a lot of work into changing them.
I guess the only way to tell is to make a new page on your site : www.mysite.com/abc_gthryv.htm . The made up "word" gthryv can be replaced with anything that has little or no results in gogle. Add a link to this page from somewhere on your site, don't use the made up word anywhere but in the file name. Wait. See if it comes up in a search for that made up word - will it show for "gthryv" or "abcgthryv"? Or neither? Maybe the file name is irrelevant unless supported by something else?
Think I'll do it now, unless GG is around to tell us there's no point....
Looking forward to your results...
>Keywords in URLs are good to have mainly for one reason: They make it easier FOR HUMANS to recognise, understand and remember a URL wherever they may see it.
Yep. A lot of browsers will display a URL on a page with the whole URL underlined. This means an underscore looks like a space. I can think of no possible advantages to underscores over hyphens, thus always use hyphens.
Yes, hyphens do separate words. Monkscuba, I suspect that the imaginary page would only show up if you search for abc_gthryv and not for gthryv. Let us know for sure though after you run your experiment! :)
For keywords and a domain, what it best, keywordkeyword.com or keyword-keyword.com?
I would say keywordkeyword.com if you can get it. You aren't going to get much boost out of keyword stuffing your url (unless it is keyword.com), however, users are more likely to click non-hyphenated urls.
|For keywords and a domain, what it best, keywordkeyword.com or keyword-keyword.com? |
Would you rather click on BlueWidgets.com or Blue-Widgets.com. I know that BlueWidgets is more likely to be an older established site, and you'd be surprised at how many intermediate-savvy users know too. Not enough to sacrifice ranking perhaps, but the SEO effect is minimal anyway.
I personally think that how my URL looks to the user is far more important. Your presentation in the SERP's affects your clickthrough. I have used hyphenated urls, but only when it is something-I-want-them-to-be-able-to-read-easily.com or when everything better has already been registered.
|I would say keywordkeyword.com if you can get it. You aren't going to get much boost out of keyword stuffing your url (unless it is keyword.com), however, users are more likely to click non-hyphenated urls. |
It's great when people use www.keyword1-keyword2.com as the anchor text, because www.keyword1keyword2.com doesn't help except for PR.
So in that case, there is a benefit.
>It's great when people use www.keyword1-keyword2.com as the anchor text, because www.keyword1keyword2.com doesn't help except for PR.
I think that advantage is getting eliminated. Even if the anchor text is kw1kw2, Google can make out that it is actually kw1 kw2 based on other links to the site (and on that site's content.)
In my view, hyphened domain names are quite awkward, just a product of inefficient SEs, just like high kw density was, and is not be recommended except when there is no choice. Same goes with directory and file names, I think. Instead of naming a file kw1-kw2.ext, it might be better to either name it kw1kw2.ext or still better kw1.ext with kw2 in the content or the link to that page.
Ok, I don't need the new page (it's not been indexed yet)
Just from playing with some of our existing pages of the form : www.oursite.com/red_shiny_wodgets.htm.
search google for "red shiny wodgets". Not showing.
search google for redshinywodgets. Not showing.
search google for red_shiny_wodgets. Yes. So google actually sees the _ as a part of the word, like a letter. Unlike the - which is certainly seperating words. A competitor has many pages of the form :
www.hissite.com/red-nobbly-flat-old-widgets.htm. Shows in a search for "red nobbly flat old widgets" even if that phrase is not anywhere on the page. What is interesting is that if you look at the cache of that page you see :
These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: red nobbly flat old widgets
So, google sees the phrase as part of the url only in the link(s) to this page from other pages in the site, like link text and not as an actual part of this page, or something like that..... Help. Confused. Need drink.
So the point is this..Is it worth anyones bother to change all their blue_nibbly_widgets.htm type pages to blue-nibbly-widgets.htm? Sure some would say it's worth the effort for ANY ranking boost. Me - no. Too much effort to change links sitewide, and there are quite a lot of deep links to such pages. The site is well established and I won't lose any sleep over the big "_-" debate.
I just know (Sod's law) that if I did go and change all the _'s for -'s, Good old Google will start to see the _'s as word seperators too! (and so they should, as that is what they are used for!)
Avoid spaces and underscores in URLs.
Use hyphens, dots, or commas instead.
Well done Monkscuba. Thanks for running that experiment.
How does stemming play ito this?
Again, if this link is not appropriate please delete. But a member of a forum, won't mention it here, did a test.
I posted the test at the search engine roundtable.
The user created a test page which had gibberish words separated by hyphens and underscores within the same file name. In addition, he put different gibberish words in the title tag separated by hyphens and underscores.
Conclusion was that
/keyword- is matched as a keyword
/****xx-keyword_xxxxx is not matched as a keyword
/xxxxx-xxxxxx_xxxxxx-keyword.html is matched as a keyword.
Same applies to the title of the page.
Here is the link to an informational site with more information [seroundtable.com...]
When I was trying to position a new site, I gave all my URLs hyphens with keywords. I was looking for any edge in 10 million plus results industry. All my successful competitors had the under_score and also with keywords in each URL. Then when Florida came and many theorized over-optimization, I changed the URLs to under_scores. I'm sure it's *not* a hypen-under_score issue but our position is better than it's ever been. When I re-configured the URLs, I took out the keywords and did what make sense from a navigation and user perspective.
Personally I would recommend keeping short URLs for the users sake. As for the hyphen-under_score edge...From my experience in a competitve industry, I can't say it matters.
That's my story and I'm stickin to it.
|Too much effort to change links sitewide, and there are quite a lot of deep links to such pages. |
I just changed my employer's site from underscores to hyphens... used find-and-replace in bbedit (I'm sure many windows text editors have comparable functions) to change the links on the site. Took about 10 minutes. Then I put some mod_rewrite code in my .htaccess file to redirect visitors to the new URLs by replacing the underscores with hyphens when they request an old filename.
It took more than 10mins for me to figure out how to do the mod_rewrite, with the help of the Apache forum here [webmasterworld.com]... but now that we figured it out, and the code is posted in that forum, it would take any of you a lot less time. :)
Figure 1/2 hour to switch a site over, if you have good access to a find-and-replace function in your text editor? Seems worth it to me.