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SEO – URL Structure – Hyphens vs Underscores

SEO – URL Structure – Hyphens vs Underscores

March 13, 2012 15:46

There is no definitive answer on whether to use hyphens or underscores for URL. Also there is no reliable source which says the same. Still most of the recommendation is towards hyphens.

  • Underscores are hard to communicate
  • Underscores disappear in underlined links which can lead to miscommunication of saying, repeating or typing URLs. example.com/hidden_underscore
  • Hyphenated URLs are easy to read as well.
  • Some blogs mentioned that hyphens are treated as word separator and underscores as word joiners. In this case hyphens will be preferred as we want keyword to be separate.
  • Leading blog sites like Word Press, Blogger, Blog Spot and Blogs use hyphens in there URL structure.
  • Wikipedia uses underscores for their URLs still is one of the top most site in SERPs.
  • Webmaster Tools Help for URL which has a mention that hyphens are recommended http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=76329
  • Google Video on the issue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQcSFsQyct8 more of a programmer perspective

Research on “Fair and Lovely” as Keyword

  • All of them display different results in terms of no of links.
  • All show around 2/3 links of fairandlovely.in which is a targeted site
  • Only “fairandlovely” keyword shows sitelinks structure. (From a ranking perspective, there’s really no separation between “regular” results and sitelinks anymore.)

Fairandlovely                      6,210 results

Fair_and_lovely                  4,480,000 results

Fair-and-lovely                   52,700,000 results

Fair and Lovely                   12,800,000 results

Winterfairnesscream           2,600 results

winter_fairness_cream        2,600 results

winter fairness cream         370,000 results

winter-fairness-cream         126,000 results

From the above result it’s clear that other than minor page ranking difference. One interesting point from above research was that if we search for something with underscores Google result says that it’s has searched for keywords without underscores and ask whether you want to search with underscores (search result for “winter fairness cream”, search for “winter_fairness_cream”)

Finally the conclusion is, use hyphens as of now, as it’s mostly recommended for new sites also. No need to change the structure for the old sites if they are using underscores, as URLs are not the only the thing which matters for SEO.

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