Hyphens or Underscores?
One of the things I do on an ongoing basis is to read books, blogs, magazines ... really anything I can get my hands of to stay on top of current website design trends. This past week I read an excellent book by Aaron Walter titled, Building Findable Websites. And I wanted to share with you a little tidbit I learned from this book.
Use hypens, not underscores in your website addresses
I will admit (though I’m somewhat embarrassed to do so) that I didn’t realize what a difference hyphens made in the eyes of search engines. Consider the following:
Example 1: http://www.domain.com/look_how_smart_i_am
Example 2: http://www.domain.com/look-how-smart-i-am
Now to you (and to me until last week) these two website addresses looked pretty much the same. In fact in my mind it really came down to a matter of style. However, that is not the case. Here is how search engines see the directory path for these two examples:
Example 1: lookhowsmartiam
Example 2: look how smart i am
Now that’s a big difference (and certainly not a matter of style). Example one translates to jibberish while example two offers unique keywords to be indexed by search engines and a clear benefit in search engine rankings. Example one is the winner here and going forward I will be using the hyphen instead of the underscore.
Is it a subtle difference? It sure is but now that you know why would you ever go back to the underscore?