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Has anyone tested the plus (+) vs the (-) in urls?

     
10:13 am on Apr 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I would like to know if the plus sign in the url has the same value of -

example url: example.com/page/hello1+hello2+hello3

i am asking this since browser already replace space char " " with plus "+" for form submitted...

what do u think?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 2:07 pm (utc) on Apr 24, 2010]
[edit reason] changed to example.com - it can never be owned [/edit]

8:07 pm on Apr 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The plus (+) character is technically reserved for use in the query string part of a URI. In the URL path itself the character should be encoded, if used - and that gets ugly fast.

2.2. Reserved Characters

Many URI include components consisting of or delimited by, certain
special characters. These characters are called "reserved", since
their usage within the URI component is limited to their reserved
purpose. If the data for a URI component would conflict with the
reserved purpose, then the conflicting data must be escaped before
forming the URI.

reserved = ";" | "/" | "?" | ":" | "@" | "&" | "=" | "+" | "$" | ","

RFC2396 - Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI): Generic Syntax [faqs.org]
10:14 pm on Apr 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

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ok so basically it's better to have example.com/page/hello1-hello2 etc
10:18 pm on Apr 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yep - I'd go with the sure thing.
8:13 am on Apr 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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took over the seo role for a site using "+" as a separator.

convinced them to change to "-" ... even though that meant changing >90% of URIs the site has improved in longtial rankings and is generating a lot more traffic since then. However, some other changes were made at the same time; but the + to - switch was definitely helpful. I left the + separator live for one sub-cat to use as a control. It wasn't important for the site, so they were happy with not having to change the URIs. Other changes were made though. After normalizing traffic values that section seems to get ~10% less traffic in contrast to what other sections gained... but the section is so small, and get's so little traffic compared to the other sections on the site that it is very hard to get accurate data.
6:20 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Although a plus symbol is a reserved character in a URL, it seems to be treated as a valid word separator nonetheless and IMO delivers equal relevance to a given keyword. The only SEO downside I can think of is that it suggests the pages are dynamically generated, which increases the chances of obscure pages/complicated URLs not being indexed.

I definitely wouldn't recommend changing a plus symbol to a hyphen for the sake of it on an existent site with established URLs unless there is some benefit other than increased keyword relevance in a URL you're aiming for. You'll likely end up with less total value even if you migrate URLs appropriately.
 

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