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j 01-16-2013 08:49 AM

dashes in URLs
 
The preferred method of replacing spaces in URLs is with a dash for
SEO. So, a while back, I switched over from underscores.

Now, I have a product that naturally has a "-" in it. Not that I
couldn't see this coming, but I don't make the "rules".

What do I replace a - with? URL encoding is no help because %2D gets
converted back to a - before the software gets a hold of it.

And just why are "-" so great for SEO?

Jeff

Jukka K. Korpela 01-16-2013 09:03 AM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
2013-01-16 10:49, j wrote:

> The preferred method of replacing spaces in URLs is with a dash for
> SEO.


Virtually everything you have read about "SEO" is a mix of hearsay and
speculation. You seem to propagate the cargo cult tradition well.

> So, a while back, I switched over from underscores.


And the odds are that you just destroyed much of your "SEO" rating if
you had any, because you probably did not redirect the old addresses.
Few sites do that, partly because it usually means a lot of work.

And you probably can't undo that. Once your old URLs have been removed,
as 404 Not Found, from search engine databases, you might be able to get
them back in some months, but they will most probably appear as new
URLs, so they start from the bottom. In "SEO", you can fake many things,
but not age.

> Now, I have a product that naturally has a "-" in it. Not that I
> couldn't see this coming, but I don't make the "rules".
>
> What do I replace a - with?


How about the Unicode HYPHEN U+2010? Not that it would be such a great
idea, but it would be different from HYPHEN-MINUS U+002D, and this seems
to be the immediate requirement. And it will make typing the URL almost
mission impossible to most users, but who cares about such things when
you have SEO to believe in?

> And just why are "-" so great for SEO?


You are asking that *now*?

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

j 01-16-2013 12:14 PM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
On 1/16/2013 4:03 AM, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
> 2013-01-16 10:49, j wrote:
>
>> The preferred method of replacing spaces in URLs is with a dash for
>> SEO.

>
> Virtually everything you have read about "SEO" is a mix of hearsay and
> speculation. You seem to propagate the cargo cult tradition well.


I have no opinion about SEO, it's not what I do. I was informed that SEO
order of preference is -,+ and then _ trailing badly. This was paid for
advice, not by myself, but by the site owner.

If you look at URLs for major sites you see that "-" is ubiquitous. It
is the way it is done.
>
>> So, a while back, I switched over from underscores.

>
> And the odds are that you just destroyed much of your "SEO" rating if
> you had any, because you probably did not redirect the old addresses.
> Few sites do that, partly because it usually means a lot of work.


These were all set up as 301 in the .htaccess.
>
> And you probably can't undo that. Once your old URLs have been removed,
> as 404 Not Found, from search engine databases, you might be able to get
> them back in some months, but they will most probably appear as new
> URLs, so they start from the bottom. In "SEO", you can fake many things,
> but not age.


I just checked the site on Google for some common keywords and it seemed
to do rather well. Not the top listing but page one and two.
>
>> Now, I have a product that naturally has a "-" in it. Not that I
>> couldn't see this coming, but I don't make the "rules".
>>
>> What do I replace a - with?

>
> How about the Unicode HYPHEN U+2010? Not that it would be such a great
> idea, but it would be different from HYPHEN-MINUS U+002D, and this seems
> to be the immediate requirement. And it will make typing the URL almost
> mission impossible to most users, but who cares about such things when
> you have SEO to believe in?


Few people type in URLs for products.

>
>> And just why are "-" so great for SEO?

>
> You are asking that *now*?


Because I'd like to know.

Jeff
>



Jukka K. Korpela 01-16-2013 12:52 PM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
2013-01-16 14:14, j wrote:

> On 1/16/2013 4:03 AM, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
>> 2013-01-16 10:49, j wrote:
>>
>>> The preferred method of replacing spaces in URLs is with a dash for
>>> SEO.

>>
>> Virtually everything you have read about "SEO" is a mix of hearsay and
>> speculation. You seem to propagate the cargo cult tradition well.

>
> I have no opinion about SEO, it's not what I do. I was informed that SEO
> order of preference is -,+ and then _ trailing badly. This was paid for
> advice, not by myself, but by the site owner.


So it indeed is cargo cult "information".

> If you look at URLs for major sites you see that "-" is ubiquitous. It
> is the way it is done.


Using "-" is just a simple way. You can't use a space (except as
%-encoded, which looks bad), so what *can* you use?

Do you think Wikipedia is not a "major site"? Does it rank badly in
search engines? Anyway, they use underline characters "_", as in
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization

> These were all set up as 301 in the .htaccess.


Fine, so you did the wrong thing (useless change of URLs) the right way,
minimizing the damage. Most people don't do that. I know of rather few
major site reorganizations that handled the redirection right.

>>> And just why are "-" so great for SEO?

>>
>> You are asking that *now*?

>
> Because I'd like to know.


Your client or boss paid for the advice, and now you are asking for
better advice (that is, advice backed up with facts and arguments) for free.

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Lewis 01-16-2013 01:22 PM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
In message <kd5pjh$7u7$1@news.albasani.net>
j <mung_me@att.net> wrote:
> The preferred method of replacing spaces in URLs is with a dash for
> SEO. So, a while back, I switched over from underscores.


> Now, I have a product that naturally has a "-" in it. Not that I
> couldn't see this coming, but I don't make the "rules".


> What do I replace a - with? URL encoding is no help because %2D gets
> converted back to a - before the software gets a hold of it.


Why do you replace it at all?

> And just why are "-" so great for SEO?


Because -'s are word boundaries and _'s are not.

--
She floats like a swan
Grace on the water

Gene Wirchenko 01-16-2013 05:13 PM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
On Wed, 16 Jan 2013 13:22:55 +0000 (UTC), Lewis
<g.kreme@gmail.com.dontsendmecopies> wrote:

[snip]

>Because -'s are word boundaries and _'s are not.


Huh?

In "co-ordinate", "-" is not a word boundary. "_" is often used
for emphasis, like this: _like this_. Can you show me a *word* that
contains "_"?

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Lewis 01-16-2013 08:52 PM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
In message <8qndf8dab49vlgatb8lsj859pdsk4a2017@4ax.com>
Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net> wrote:
> On Wed, 16 Jan 2013 13:22:55 +0000 (UTC), Lewis
> <g.kreme@gmail.com.dontsendmecopies> wrote:


> [snip]


>>Because -'s are word boundaries and _'s are not.


> Huh?


> In "co-ordinate", "-" is not a word boundary. "_" is often used
> for emphasis, like this: _like this_. Can you show me a *word* that
> contains "_"?


That's nice. We're not talking about English, we are talking abut parsing URLS.

"This_is_one_word" to a computer, "this-is-not-one-word" to a computer.

--
Marriages made in heaven are not exported.

Jonathan N. Little 01-16-2013 09:18 PM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
Lewis wrote:
> In message <8qndf8dab49vlgatb8lsj859pdsk4a2017@4ax.com>
> Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net> wrote:
>> On Wed, 16 Jan 2013 13:22:55 +0000 (UTC), Lewis
>> <g.kreme@gmail.com.dontsendmecopies> wrote:

>
>> [snip]

>
>>> Because -'s are word boundaries and _'s are not.

>
>> Huh?

>
>> In "co-ordinate", "-" is not a word boundary. "_" is often used
>> for emphasis, like this: _like this_. Can you show me a *word* that
>> contains "_"?

>
> That's nice. We're not talking about English, we are talking abut parsing URLS.
>
> "This_is_one_word" to a computer, "this-is-not-one-word" to a computer.
>


Please explain that assertion!

--
Take care,

Jonathan
-------------------
LITTLE WORKS STUDIO
http://www.LittleWorksStudio.com

Jukka K. Korpela 01-16-2013 10:10 PM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
2013-01-16 22:52, Lewis wrote:

> "This_is_one_word" to a computer, "this-is-not-one-word" to a computer.


That depends on what the computer has been programmed to do. There is
little really reliable information of what search engines actually do.
Since they primarily deal with text in human languages, it is natural to
expect that "foo-bar" is taken as one word, though possibly as more or
less synonymous with the word pair "foo bar", because many languages
have hyphenated compound words. And since human languages do not use the
underline "_", what should search engines do with "foo_bar"?

But, fair enough, URLs may be an exception. Google says:

"Consider using punctuation in your URLs. The URL
http://www.example.com/green-dress.html is much more useful to us than
http://www.example.com/greendress.html. We recommend that you use
hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs."
http://support.google.com/webmasters...n&answer=76329

They don't say why, and they don't say that underscores do something bad
to search engines - even though this would be the right place to say
such things.

So, by all means, use foo-bar rather than foo_bar in URLs. But changing
existing URLs is normally a bad idea.

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Jonathan N. Little 01-16-2013 10:53 PM

Re: dashes in URLs
 
Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
>
> They don't say why, and they don't say that underscores do something bad
> to search engines - even though this would be the right place to say
> such things.


I think the only reasons google and SEO "experts" advise dashes over
underscores is 1) with the HTML link underline decoration the underscore
is indistinguishable from a space, and 2) some newbies have no idea that
that SHIFT + HYPHEN key is an underscore!

--
Take care,

Jonathan
-------------------
LITTLE WORKS STUDIO
http://www.LittleWorksStudio.com


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