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For example, would it be better to have http://www.example.com/3-inch-widgets.php or http://www.example.com/3inchwidgets.php?
If I was really creative, I could do http://www.example.com/3inch-widgets.com, but I think that's confusing- isn't it?
Which is better for SEO? I think the hyphenated version is much easier to read, but I've heard that too many hyphens isn't good SEO practice.
All advice is appreciated.
[edited by: encyclo at 12:10 am (utc) on June 18, 2008]
[edit reason] switched to example.com [/edit]
I've favoured hyphens separating words for many years now without any problem. I think the rule of thumb should be: keep it as short as possible. I certainly don't think example.com/3-inch-widgets.php is excessive.
My personal preference is to also drop the file extensions, e.g.:
example.com/3-inch-widgets (for a single file)
example.com/3-inch-widgets/ (for a directory containing multiple files about 3 inch widgets)
What may be excessive (although I would doubt you'd see noticeable difference in serps) would be example.com/three-inch-widgets-with-green-and-yellow-knobs-on.
However, many of the popular blogging/CMS platforms auto-create URLs like this, so what is 'excessive' is not a static thing, and likely requires a combination of other factors to be of any genuine concern.
I'd also add that IMO URLs should simply be a by-product of good information hierarchy. I.e. just apply 'URL logic' to the way you have organised and planned your website's content. For instance, example.com/widgets/3-inch might be suitable ;)
To answer a common question, Google doesn’t algorithmically penalize for dashes in the url. Of course I can only speak for Google, not other search engines. And bear in mind that if your domain looks like www.buy-cheap-viagra-online-while-consolidating-your-debt-so-you-can-play-texas-holdem-while-watching-porn.com, that may still attract attention for other reasons. :)
Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO \ Dashes vs. underscores \ August 25, 2005 @ 12:29 am · Filed under Google/SEO [mattcutts.com]
Domain names with multiple hyphens can be seen as "throw-aways" and a possible spam signal. (This is more true for Yahoo than for Google.)
But hyphens in the filepath, in the rest of the url beyond the domain name, are quite common in rewrite technologies today. They're not a problem in themselves. Stuffing lots of keywords in between the hyphens however? That can cause the occasional problem.
The main point is that keyword-in-the-filepath is just one relevance signal out of a big pile, and it's a relatively small one. Those keywords can help to confirm relevance of a given page for a given search. But it's not worth enough juice on its own to get obsessed about.
for seo purposes, is widgets/3-inch better than 3-inch-widgets?
My point was that URLs are merely a visible reflection of site hierarchy, and it can be a good idea to view them as such: URLs can reflect hierarchy, but never define it. Once you have your hierarchy and structure sorted, URLs are easy.
So, if we assume a good hierarchy of information, I'd make the following assumptions purely based on a URL:
A single page about 3 inch widgets, less likely to be categorised, less likely to be a large volume of widget information on the same theme.
A site with a collection of information about widgets, this particular file being about 3 inch ones. Likely to be other widgets on this theme. There may even be other collections such as /gadgets/.
To echo tedster's comments: don't get preoccupied with URLs. Instead, get preoccupied about ensuring your site has a logical hierarchy of information and a good system of categorisation, which is reflected by the URLs you eventually use.