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Google hates "-"?

Down 90% since May 28...

   
5:22 pm on Jun 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



It looks like Google is now penalizing, or at least lowering importance of sites with "-" between keywords.

I have several sites that had held stubbornly to first page for several keywords, and as of last Thursday, they are all suffering big time.

My urls all look like -
[keyword1-keyword2...]

Anyone else seeing this shift?

7:48 pm on Jun 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I’m not seeing it in the domain names, I’m seeing it in the file names only. For 2 sets of highly competitive KW’s all the top spots have underscores and no dashes to be seen anywhere. Good thing for me most of my top-level pages have names like about.html, links.html, etc.
8:02 pm on Jun 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Harley-Davidson has a hyphen in their real name, as well as their domain name. Do a search on [harley davidson]. As soon as they disappear from that first spot, then I will believe that Google has been that stupid.

I don't know, BigDave. They have tens of thousands of incoming links and they're clearly the authority site for their own company name. So if there is any lessening of rank for using a hyphen, it would surely be outweighed by these other factors.

8:09 pm on Jun 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Pleeker
I agree
8:29 pm on Jun 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Oh, certainly H-D has more than enough going for it to ovecome a minor change. But minor changes happen all the time.

If a minor change happens, and your ranking comes crashing down, then you probably should not have been ranking well in the first place.

If it was a significant enough change to boot a well rounded site, especially when the word "penalizing" is being offered up in the original post, then it should hit all hypenated domains to some degree.

And even if H-D is too strong to suffer in that case, look down those search results, there are a lot of other hyphens in that list from sites that do not have the drawing power of the main H-D site.

8:35 pm on Jun 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm just so happy that Harleys are a topic being dicussed here on this forum.
8:46 pm on Jun 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member caveman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



>>Has anyone noticed anything related to the total number of hyphens in the URLs?

Yes, but I don't believe that hyphens are the issue.

First, there are plenty of examples, some in very competitive areas, where high ranking pages utilize URL's with 3 or 4 hyphens (domain and/or filename; it doesn't matter).

Second, as has been noted, it's hard to find decent domains anymore without hyphens.

Third, if G ever did such a thing it would unfairly punish too many innocents. G may not care at all about innocents, but they probably don't want to wipe them all out.

Most likely, what people are seeing is simply that some sites that were heavily SEO'd over the past several years at times use lots of hyphens. So as G continues to tighten up its filters and algo, more and more of sites with hyphens are being snared. IMHO, worst case is that too many hyphens *may* raise a red flag ... but I don't even believe that, because I see no evidence, and I do see evidence to the contrary. Hyphens are just too fundamental to too many sites.

Hyphens don't cause Penalties. Too much SEO causes Penalties.

3:05 am on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I run a site for a property management company with two hyphens in the name and they went from PR3 to PR4 recently. Very few pages (<20), not much content (yet) but got a PR boost.

But the SERPs? PR is another story....

6:44 am on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



>>worst case is that too many hyphens *may* raise a red flag

It should be ‘too’ many hyphens as a percentage of total file names, but that should be for any proverbial penalty. There may always be a case (G), or what ever search engine, didn’t predict. If there are a few outliers, that should not be a penalty. Of course that goes for underscores as well. Too many underscores should get you had as well. Or at least I hope (G) and the others are that smart.

Of course, that makes me ask the question, why bother looking at the file names in the first place? Isn’t that dictating to a webmaster how to create their site? There may be reasons why one might need to have every file hyphenated with several hyphens. Like if you have 1000 file names almost the same and a human needs to look at the files. Like a string of numbers for example.

7:01 am on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I run a site for a property management company with two hyphens in the name and they went from PR3 to PR4 recently. Very few pages (<20), not much content (yet) but got a PR boost.

But PageRank is only a measure of links pointing to a page -- the domain name, hyphenated or not, has nothing to do with it. A change in PageRank isn't related to any algorithmic change regarding how hyphenated domain names are handled.

7:06 am on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Of course, that makes me ask the question, why bother looking at the file names in the first place? Isn’t that dictating to a webmaster how to create their site?

Maybe. But if you want to take that point of view, isn't looking at how any on-page element is used "dictating to a webmaster how to create their site?"

Why bother looking at file names? Same reason a search engine takes into consideration the contents of heading tags, the title, bold text, or whatever -- because it can be an indicator of what the page is about.

10:44 am on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



>>Same reason a search engine takes into consideration the contents of heading tags, the title, bold text, or whatever -- because it can be an indicator of what the page is about.

Your right of course, but here is my point.

My domain name is made up of 2 combined KW’s and an abbreviated, (aa), KW. The abbreviated KW is as useful as utters on bull, so we have KWKWaa.com.

When I do a search for KW (space) KW, (G) highlights KWKW together even though the KW’s were put in as 2 words. So they have the ability to take a two word search term and return sites that the domain name makes up a compound word of the KW’s.

They could just as easily remove the hyphens and underscores and any other character that is above or below ASCII xx and rank all returns based on making all filenames and domain names a single compound word. But they didn’t do that. Therefore all domain names and filenames would have the same weight. Question is why did they not do this? This would give the same weight to all domain names and filenames w/o regard to an individuals preference or required maintenance procedures.

The only reasons I can think of for them to do that is to trap smaller sites where indivuals do their own SEO or SEOs that are just starting out because they feel those sites and/or SEOs are not deserving of being on page one or two or page X of the SERPs. Maybe there is another more logical reason for it, but I can’t think of it. Can anyone else?

Putting on my conspiracy theory hat, there appears to be something going on over at (Y) as well. Coincidence? There were posts around here not to long ago about hyphens having more weight that underscores. If a (G) and/or (Y) employee started or contributed to the ‘which carries more weight’ discussion, (we use to call it putting a bug in someone’s ear), they could be fishing for the self-SEO sites and thus they would know who’s reading that topic here and acting on the information.

Now it may just be coincidence, but, it could be view as suspicious that both (G) and (Y) appear to be changing their SERPS at about the same time. If further research could prove that some sites and/or pages in (Y) are changing for the same reason, the –‘s and _’s for example, then they would put the smaller sites out of business forever because (G) and (Y) account for a huge amount of all search activities, like what 90%, and end their problem of smaller sites and/or SEO’s doing SEO. Of course that would be a big anti-trust issue that would absolutely rock the industry. I have seen companies before join forces to conquer a viewed common enemy, and those types of anti-trust things like price fixing go on even today.

[edited by: jim_w at 10:49 am (utc) on June 3, 2004]

10:48 am on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



My site lost 50% of it's Google traffic since May 31st. Most of my pages use underscore or - in them. I'm not sure if that's the reason or not. They were replace by some pretty irrelevant results. I'm not going to make any drastic changes. I'll just change 2-3 pages and see what happens.

wellzy

wellzy

11:00 am on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I do not concur with the penalized dash theory. I have hundreds of domains, millions of pages, all with dashes.......I don't see any difference.........so look for another reason IMHO!
11:05 am on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



>>the penalized dash theory

I'm starting to not see it as that either, I see it as a change issue, not if you have one or the other, but if and how many were changed and/or added since date X. So they compare your older results with the newer ones. If you have been changing, you’re had. This could also explain why (G) was having troubles with 301’s. Of course it is just a conspiracy theory.

4:20 pm on Jun 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



has anyone noticed that google uses underscores on it's own site, and that they do so very sparingly? check through the "about" section, you'll see a small percentage of links with underscores, and ZERO hyphens.

i always use underscores regardless of keyword separation debates, i just think they look better. now i have reason to believe that google agrees with me...can't hurt to follow their lead.

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