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Dashes or Underscores in URL for SEO

Posted on May 08, 2014

Not sure whether to use dashes or underscores in your website URLs? There is a difference, so read on.

First of all, what is a URL? URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, and it's just a fancy term for a web address on the Internet. For instance, http://www.example.com/some-keywords-here.html, is an example of a URL. By typing a valid URL into your browser, you would be sent to a specific page on the Internet.

Dashes or Underscores

To understand why it matters, we have to know how the search engines handle these special characters in URLs.

According to Google, they treat dashes and underscores differently. Dashes are seen as a space between two words, while underscores join two words.

For Bing, they treat dashes and underscores as the same thing - a space between two words.

Why it Matters

The topic of URLs have been discussed repeatedly over the years in the SEO community, and the consensus seems to be that keywords in URLs do matter at least a little bit in terms of search engine rankings. And although Matt Cutts tells us not to lose sleep over this, we can still come to the conclusion that a pretty URL structure with clearly separated keywords (dashes) is better than an ugly URL structure with no keywords. Additionally, a pretty URL structure is also easier to remember and can result in higher click-through rates.

Here is our advice. If you already have an established website using underscores in the URLs, do not worry about changing them over to dashes as it can do more harm than good. However, if you are using URLs that are ugly and long with session variables, you may be want to consider doing a URL rewrite with 301 redirects from all the old pages to the new ones. Also, if you are starting a new website, implementing a good URL structure from the beginning is the way to go.

How do you structure your website URLs and why?





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About the Author

Steve Baik is the manager of AddMe. He can help you answer any questions you may have in regards to SEO, Internet marketing or buying targeted traffic. Feel free to contact Steve should you have any questions or suggestions.


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