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URL Structure: Any Good" Characters besides "-" and " "

URL String

12:47 am on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Everyone,

I've been hunting through the archives for over 2 hours now and not finding my answer... so, I'm hoping someone can either answer my question or direct me to the right archive.

I'm trying to figure out what is the optimal character to use in my site URL besides "-", "/" and "_". I'm trying to find something like a "+", ":", ".", "~" or "!"... but, "+" and ":" are reserved according to section 2.2 here: [faqs.org...]

and I've rarely seen successful SEO sites with a tilda or exclamation point in their URL. And, I've heard that periods can cause trouble...

Here's the type of URL I'm going for:


The only spot I need help with is the "+" spot above. It needs to be common enough that it won't cause Google or any of our customer/browsers to break, yet distinct enough that my system can find it uniquely.

Any ideas? We're going live with our major SEO upgrade tonight, but just discovered this potential problem... Help!


[edited by: encyclo at 2:11 am (utc) on May 30, 2007]
[edit reason] switched to example.com [/edit]

2:38 am on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

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If the format is always "/ABCD-" then it is a simple matter to parse for the first hyphen following the second slash, back up to that preceding slash, and take all in between as your "argument."

Alternatively, put your argument at the beginning or the end of the URL -- I'd go with the end, myself, if keywords-in-URL are a factor.

I cannot recommend that you use any character that will be hex-encoded for HTTP transmission. Otherwise, we'll likely see your post next month about "Help, how can I get rid of %2b and %252b characters in my URLs?" The use of non-standard characters produces problems at many levels, from unreadable URLs to regular-expressions pattern-matching trouble, and is best avoided.

So, I'd suggest revising your "system" to make it more robust without requiring special characters.


3:23 am on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your help jdMorgan! I'd much prefer to do that too, but the problem is that we have real files with the properties "/ABCD-". For example, we have:

or whatever...

So, our app would think we were referring to "/picture-" or "/java-" content and not the actual files.

We decided not to put it at the end of our URL, because these links will be emailed out and some email apps will cut the URL's off if they're longer than about 76 characters... So, this:

Would become this:


and we'd lose our ABCD variable... sending the use to a 404 page instead.

That's why we're tring to put it at the beginning of that last part. I *think* (correct me if I'm wrong) that [car.example.com...] wouldn't be as effective, because then we wouldn't have a proper usable root: [car.example.com...]

So, I guess that my ideal situation would be to find a character that isn't special and wouldn't cause the %2b problem, but is rare... like a "~" tilda or "+" plus or something.

If there's just no safe option like that, then I guess we'll have to revise our "system".

Thanks again jdMorgan!


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