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Does google prefer underscores/hyphens/plus'?

   
9:35 am on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I have mod rewrite on our site however it was set up by a thrid party company before I started my present role. They have used +'s for the url's. For example:

www.example.com/section/blue+widget

Would -

www.example.com/section/blue-widget

or

www.example.com/section/blue_widget

be better for SERP listings? Or does it not matter for serp listings and should I move to _ because I believe my customers experience be better?

[edited by: ciml at 3:23 pm (utc) on June 22, 2005]
[edit reason] Examplified [/edit]

4:03 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)



I've never tried the + sign, but as far as G goes I've had the same results with - and _ , it doesn't seem to have a preference.
4:18 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



The general consensus in the past was that
www.example.com/section/blue-widget
was better.

I think the reason was that if you searched for
blue-widget or blue widget the results were the same which indicated google ignored dashes.

However I just did some search with and without the "-"
and the results are not the same.

Did something change recently?

4:33 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Yes, I noticed the same. A change in a part of the algo perhaps?
4:42 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)
5:16 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



EBear

That's all well and good on the link you posted, but when I search for white widgets and white-widgets, I am now getting different results. This is not the way it was in the past.

5:33 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



>That's all well and good on the link you posted, but when I search for white widgets and white-widgets, I am now getting different results. This is not the way it was in the past.

Indeed. And, in a very hard for me to understand way.

6:09 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I wondwer if this means my naming convention is all screwed up. I normally name files with pertinent meanings as to what the file is. For example...

white-widgets.html
blue-widgets.html
etc.

Something is amiss. Knobs have been tweaked. It seems some of the old rules do not apply anymore. Anyone have an explaination for this?

By the way, one of my sites that uses this type of directory/naming convention was ranked number one for some very competative key phrases. Since Bourbon, the site has dropped to #9 or #10 depending on the phrase. I have been bangin' my head trying to figure out why. Not a big drop, mind you, but enough to take a hit in the referrals from G. The site was #1 for the past 4.5 years with occasional dips after some of the more notorious updates (ie, florida, etc.). Nothing on the site has really changed. Doesn't appear to be coming back.

mmmmm

6:11 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)



EBear, I can't reply on that URL you posted, so I guess I'll ask here.

If you use an underscore '_' character, then Google will combine the two words on either side into one word. So bla.com/kw1_kw2.html wouldn't show up by itself for kw1 or kw2. You'd have to search for kw1_kw2 as a query term to bring up that page

Is he talking about search terms, or in your URL? I've used both _ and - in my URL's to separate the key words regarding the product on the page (if the product's name is two or more words) and I haven't seen any difference in G SERP's.

I've recently noticed in MSN and Yahoo, if you search for name name name and that namenamename is in the URL, it will hit/bold on that. Looks like some kind of "AI" for the SE to be able to separate the words.

6:19 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)



You should perhaps read what

troels nybo nielsen

wrote in the link above

[webmasterworld.com...]

"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".

There is always a tradeoff.

KBleivik
80/20 Content/technological solution
? ?

9:02 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Avoid underscores and spaces; there are many problems.

Use hyphens or dots, or even commas if you like.

8:41 am on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I have found this:

blue+widgets

gives the same results as

blue widgets

However

blue-widgets

gives a completely different set of results.

That is when searching.

Which doesn't answer my orginal question.

But might be of some use.

9:03 am on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I think it doesn't matter at all. Google seems to notice both blue-widgets and blue_widgets in the URL since they are both printed bold. Besides, I've had top rankings with underscores for years.
9:11 am on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



So are we saying that underscores/hyphens are better than +'s as the search engines don't care and I think that my customers would read the url better?
9:31 am on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Yes, certainly don't use the plus sign outside of the querystring. Some searches have definite problems with it.
12:14 pm on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



searches = search engines
7:12 pm on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



>> Google seems to notice both blue-widgets and blue_widgets in the URL since they are both printed bold. <<

The bolding is something that is applied to the pages of results as it is being delivered to the browser. The bolding does not reflect how information was used in the algo itself.

Notice if you include the letter "a" in your search that the letter "a" inside a word will sometimes be put in bold, too. That shows it is an output/display function not an indexing/algo function.

10:24 pm on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The bolding is something that is applied to the pages of results as it is being delivered to the browser. The bolding does not reflect how information was used in the algo itself.

That's right.
After the algo produces results, the other script bolds all occurences of the searched phrase, even if they were not part of the algo input.
It actually just finds the consecutive letters, eliminating spaces, so if you e.g. search for "jack son" - jackson will be bold, which does not mean that "jackson" was ever recognized as the search term.

11:35 pm on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



sorry to butt in here guys, but when you do a search on google "Blue widget" Google reads it as Blue+Widget. Look at the google address bar!.

So a space to google is the + sign.

Despite this, the address/blue-widget.html works just as well as /blue_widget.html imo and a static page certainly ranks better in Google imo than a dynamic one would with Blue+Widget in the string.

My own observation

11:44 pm on Jun 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



>sorry to butt in here guys, but when you do a search on google "Blue widget" Google reads it as Blue+Widget. Look at the google address bar!.

This has nothing to do with how the *algo* works. Also, note the search blue+widgets in the address bar is different than blue widgets.

8:12 am on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Its a proven fact Google only parses "". Its easy to proove as parsed keywords come out as bold in the Google results.

www.example.com/section/blue+widget

www.example.com/section/blue-widget

www.example.com/section/blue_widget

...see only keywords separated by "-" shows up bold in Google results page! If you use unique random words it can be proven more comprehensively.

But the weight is insignificant so an underscore (the programming file standard) should be fine and "+" (querystring search standard) will be fine to use but Google will not parse it as individual key words like it does "-".

Personally I use the programming file standard of underscore and query string search standard of plus.

9:52 am on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



i think the hyphen looks tidier and should be standard practice, but I dont think it makes a difference!
11:18 am on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Use hyphens, dots, or commas.

Always avoid spaces and underscores.

1:24 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



commas over underscores! LOL I dont think so.