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Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference!

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Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference!
I was hoping that v3.0 (or 3.01) would include the option to use the hyphen to separate keywords in filenames and directories, as opposed to the underscore (the default). A toggle to switch from one to the other would've been a really nice new feature! I might need someone to create a custom script to do this...

Why?

Because Google treats them differently! Some feel there is no difference at all, but some of us know better. Even GoogleGuy (authorized Google deep throat) has now admitted as much publicly. Sadly, some at GT remain unaware of this important fact.

Here's a link to results of a test on this. I bet more tests will yield same results.

http://www.prweaver.com/...yphen-and-underscore

The above page includes a quote from GoogleGuy (a secret insider at Google).

What do YOU think? I'm curious... Using hyphens could really help with SEO! I hope this option (toggle?) will be added into the program in the not-too-distant future.

Thanks for your feedback.
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Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
I hesitate to believe this, since google eventually indexes everything, and that test was way too limited.

but, the apparant rationale would be that an _ usually indicates missing text, or non-printable or displayable characters. It's also not always 1 _ 2 character mapping either.

Because of that, google either has to decide to ingore such strings altogether, index them "as is" with the "_", or send a "smart bot" back a few weeks later to see what's going on.

I'd vote for #3, actually.

They run everything through a linguistic and syntax filter, so real-words separated by "_" would most likely still display. The words that were being used by the "test" were artificial constructs, that the linguistic analyzer probably choked on.

IF you have a string This_Is_My_Best_Red_Horse_Topic, it will most likely be indexed equally on par with "This-is-my-best-red-horse-topic"

In fact, IMHO, the first format would rank higher, since it's the _MOST_ common means of indicating a "space" character, while a "-" in anything but a domain name usually means a hypenated or run-together string of words.

Again, the google bot should figure this out, but we know google is running at least 3 different kinds of bots now, and each bot does something different, which is why rankings change so drastically, and apparantly arbitrarily. Which bot has "last say" is the question, but it does seem once a site is properly indexed, the rankings stay fairly consistent.

I take _everything_ on-line with a grain of salt, and I can point out situations where the "_" versions had actually ranked higher than the domain names. I complained to Google about it, sites "stealing" our brand for deceptive marketing, and they were about as concerned for the problem as Bush is about all our dead troops and their families.

So, while Google Guy may have some point, I have equally strong evidence to the contrary, based on a longer time window than a few days or even weeks.

BTW: IF Google Guy is really sanctioned by Google, his function is as much dis-information as information, like Area 51. If people believe it's there, and it's guarded, then they quit looking at the real issues. If he's not sanctioned by Google, he'd have been terminated (literally) by now.


PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

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Re: [pugdog] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
I would also prefer hyphers over underscore anyday - anytime as it is better not only from the search engine optimization point of view, but also easier for people to read and remember.

If there was any way to update this within GLinks it could make significant different in web site traffic for GLink users.

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BTW: IF Google Guy is really sanctioned by Google, his function is as much dis-information as information, like Area 51. If people believe it's there, and it's guarded, then they quit looking at the real issues. If he's not sanctioned by Google, he'd have been terminated (literally) by now.

Yes GoogleGuy is real & is *really* sanctioned by Google. & No we are not talking about a comicbook or movie but real life and this is little more different than Area 51, here Google Guy normally speaks the truth/facts or stays out.

Vishal
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Last edited by:

SWDevil.Com: Apr 22, 2005, 12:28 AM
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Re: [SWDevil.Com] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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Yes GoogleGuy is real & is *really* sanctioned by Google. & No we are not talking about a comicbook or movie but real life and this is little more different than Area 51, here Google Guy normally speaks the truth/facts or stays out.


Believe me, I *know* GoogleGuy and his posts. And I stand by the disinformation conspiracy theory. Google is not going to let someone "spill the beans" but they will use him to their own ends.

As for the "-" vs the "_"..... it's a *LOT* easier to read the _ version than the - version. The _ almost disappears. The - version sounds like a run-on sentence.

But, it's your choice, and I'm not going to argue that.

I do know, that http://multiwordomainame.com with appropriate content and keywords has often gotten lower ranking than http://hijackdomain.com/...e_with_keywords.html and that is what I've complained to google about.

Also, http://brandeddomainname.com with appropriate keywords, has often gotten lower rankings than, http://hijackdomainame.com/...words_targeting.html even if the content of the page was *not* as targeted as the http://brandeddomainname.com page.

BTW: look at how the _ version is more readable than: http://hijackdomainame.com/...words-targeting.html The words are separated by an apparant space.

Remember, Google does *NOT* want any external manipulation of their search results (they do a good enough job themselves). They are *not* going to put out any information to help spammers get higher ranking. The '-' and '_' is probably one way to deflect the real attention from what is important -- content. Google is still working on that.

Remember, the test data was "flawed". It used nonsensical words that the lingustic filters couldn't deal with. So it had to make choices, and assumed it was something it didn't know, and that the '_' was a missing letter or character in that char-set.

You have your opinions, I have mine. I take GoogleGuy with a morton container of salt. I'm not changing my '_' to '-' except where it makes linguistic sense. My '_' pages have been well ranked, over time. Wikis get ranked without using '_' or '-' (eg: VeryLongPageTopicName)

The only thing GoogleGuy is good for, is often quelling really paranoid rumors (and maybe some were not rumors....). Everything else is, well, .... you decide ;)


PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

The best way to contact me is to NOT use Email.
Please leave a PM here.
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Re: [pugdog] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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Google is not going to let someone "spill the beans" but they will use him to their own ends.
Check out http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/23371.htm and you will notice what GoogleGuy is saying. Also in the real work, Google and any other company is better off by not saying anything or speaking the facts of the process else it can actually put them in deeper trouble.

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Because of that, Google either has to decide to ingore such strings altogether, index them "as is" with the "_", or send a "smart bot" back a few weeks later to see what's going on.
I recommend you to re-read the post by GoogleGuy and you will notice that Google has already decided what they are going to do, it is up to webmasters on what approach they want to take.

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IMHO, the first format would rank higher, since it's the _MOST_ common means of indicating a "space" character, while a "-" in anything but a domain name usually means a hypenated or run-together string of words.
I totally agree with you in the matter that the first format *should* rank higher, however just because me and you think that way does not mean Google is going to change their way of working. Here is an example of good and bad keyword rich url

Bad : http://www.domain.com/computer_programming_services.html
Good : http://www.domain.com/computer-programming-services.html

I am pretty sure you will agree with me that most end users don't use computerprogrammingservices as a keyword to search instead they are more likely to use computer programming services, now considering all factors equal if you are wanting to compare 2 website, then any given day, for Google ranking you will see that the website using hyphen will be ranked higher compared to underscore.

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Again, the Google bot should figure this out, but we know Google is running at least 3 different kinds of bots now, and each bot does something different, which is why rankings change so drastically, and apparantly arbitrarily. Which bot has "last say" is the question, but it does seem once a site is properly indexed, the rankings stay fairly consistent.
Google uses bots to index webpages. Indexing web pages and algorithm for ranking website are to different things of a big/detailed process. The issue of hyphens Vs. underscore deals with the algorithm part of the process.

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IF Google Guy is really sanctioned by Google
Yes he is *REALLY* sanctioned by Google & verified by the Webmasterworld board owner.

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his function is as much dis-information as information
Do you know that by giving our wrong information they might get in legal trouble? I think Google is little bit too smart to give out wrong information on purpose.

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I do know, that http://multiwordomainame.com with appropriate content and keywords has often gotten lower ranking than http://hijackdomain.com/...e_with_keywords.html and that is what I've complained to Google about.

Also, http://brandeddomainname.com with appropriate keywords, has often gotten lower rankings than, http://hijackdomainame.com/...words_targeting.html even if the content of the page was *not* as targeted as the http://brandeddomainname.com page.

BTW: look at how the _ version is more readable than: http://hijackdomainame.com/...words-targeting.html The words are separated by an apparant space.
Look at the beautiful thing, neither one of us is dealing with hijackdomain.com, but we are dealing with good websites and are comparing things on how hyphen is better than underscore, so just because some hijackeddomain.com is getting ranked better than brandeddomain.com does not really make any difference to this situation.

Check out http://www.google.com/googleblog/2004_08_01_archive.html and it will also help little more on what Google favors more.

Here is an example from live Google results, I am sure it will make things more clear.

#1) Google Results for the search term : search_engine_positioning
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&c2coff=1&q=search_engine_positioning&btnG=Search
Only 4080 results found and see the results and you will notice them.

#2) Google Results for the search term : search-engine-positioning
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&c2coff=1&q=search-engine-positioning&btnG=Search
Only 969,000 results found and see the results and you will notice them.

#3) Google Results for the search term : search engine positioning
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&c2coff=1&q=search+engine+positioning&btnG=Search

Now compare #2 with #3 & you will agree that the term search-engine-positioning has much similar results compared to the term search engine positioning. Hence it would make more sense for webmasters to use hyphens in the url compared to underscore.

P.S. PUGDOG I am very impressed with the wonderful support you have been providing do GT community and would like to thank you for that.

Vishal

Vishal
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Last edited by:

SWDevil.Com: Apr 22, 2005, 9:52 PM
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Re: [SWDevil.Com] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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#1) Google Results for the search term : search_engine_positioning
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&c2coff=1&q=search_engine_positioning&btnG=Search
Only 4080 results found and see the results and you will notice them.

#2) Google Results for the search term : search-engine-positioning
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&c2coff=1&q=search-engine-positioning&btnG=Search
Only 969,000 results found and see the results and you will notice them.

#3) Google Results for the search term : search engine positioning
http://www.google.com/...ning&btnG=Search


What you are missing here, is what percentage of overlap there is with #1. If #1 is included in the results of 2 and/or 3, then #1 is a _better_ option, since it's specific.

3030 of the #1 results were in the #2 results.

Try the results for "black horses", "black-horses" and "black_horses"

5,000,000+, 60,000+, 31 (both on it's own, and within the black-horses search)

Part of the issue, is that the average surfer is going to search for "black horses" not "black-horses". Which, actually, lookes like "black -horses" (meaning black, but not containing horses)

"black_horses" on the other hand, seems to be indexed as "black" and "horses" as well as "black_horses"

A user *can* search for "black_horses" but not "black-horses" it seems. Your "black_horses" site will come up with any search, but none of the others will come up with "black_horses" since the '_' seems to also be stored literally as an extra token.

Actual ranking is based on the PAGE CONTENT not the URL. If your page content is "on" you might get a brownie point for the URL, but if you have a URL, but the page content doesn't match [the search] the page will not come up (except in rare cases of obscure key words).

In otherwords, don't confuse google's spidering/parsing the page with how the user searches, or how the results come up in a user search after the page is spidered. Putting "search_engine" on your page, is looked at very differently than how "search_engine" is treated in a search query.

The only way to really test this, is to have a fairly well ranked site, and add a page black_blue_ribbon.html and then on the page, have nothing but black_blue_ribbon, not words black, blue or ribbon independently. Give the page time to spider (put adwords on it, etc). Actually, if you make up good content, that is about black_blue_ribbons, carefully crafted, see if adwords grabs it. The subtle point here is that their parser should recognize "black", "blue" and "ribbons" as well as the unique token "black_blue_rbbon". There are way too many sites using "_" not "-" for google to avoid this issue. They would be "losing" out for a simple hueristic change. Considering how many of GT's pages are/were ranked with "_" and how many of my own forum pages are thus ranked, I'd doubt this is as big an issue. "search-engine" is not a unique token. The first sites that come up are "search engine" (no '-'). "search_engine" is a unique token, the first sites that come up are "search_engine". "search engine" is the way most people search for the sites, and it seems all variations come up.


As for GoogleGuy. Never *trust* a mole. "If you are caught or killed, the organization will disavow any knowledge of your actions."

Do you have a letter from Google, saying they fully endorse GoogleGuy?

I think the most that has been said, is that his managers know what he is doing. That is *not* an edorsement. I worked for IBM. Our managers knew what we [royal we] were doing.... When the winds shifted, heads would roll. And it was never the Top Dogs.


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P.S. PUGDOG I am very impressed with the wonderful support you have been providing do GT community and would like to thank you for that.

thanks. :)


PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

The best way to contact me is to NOT use Email.
Please leave a PM here.
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Re: [pugdog] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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Do you have a letter from Google, saying they fully endorse GoogleGuy?

WebmasterWorld happens to be #1 discussion board for Professional all over the world & talking about GoogleGuy, he is not the only search engine representative there, but at Webmasterworld if you look, you will also be able to find reps from Yahoo, Inktomi (before yahoo purchased it), and other famous search engines. Also the owner of WebmasterWorld (Brett Tabke) verifies them before they are allowed to given such titles and once they are verified, they are also introduced too.

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I think the most that has been said, is that his managers know what he is doing. That is *not* an edorsement.

I beg to differ. I have been member of Webmasterworld for few years now and was already a member when GG became member there and I have seen responses and actions from GG that has actually affected the google algorithm and there were things that were changed like website blacklistings.. etc but it is useless for us to go into such details cuz it would be like you trying to teach me cgi programming in a day.

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What you are missing here, is what percentage of overlap there is with #1. If #1 is included in the results of 2 and/or 3, then #1 is a _better_ option, since it's specific

Must be my misunderstanding in not being able to put things in right words. Number 1 site is using hypens, however this is not the issue and that is not what I was trying to point.

What I am trying to say is for following terms
1) search_engine_positioning
2) search-engine-positioning
3) search engine positioning

& for

1) black_horse
2) black-horse
3) black horse

Study google results for this search terms and see if you find anything interesting.

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The only way to really test....

If you study above results you will agree that what you did with the results was the real test.

Vishal

Vishal
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Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
Questioning whether or not GoogleGuy is for real or not is not the issue here at all. If anyone doesn't believe he's for real or that 50% of his mission may be disinformation, they are wrong in that assessment. Writing off all or most of what he says isn't wise.

It was a year ago yesterday GG confirmed hyphens are better for rankings at Google. Shortly after that confirmation, GG went into a "quiet mode" and we didn't hear much.

Sure, the example on that linked page was weak and inconclusive. There are other pages (and test results) that can prove the point to those who are still doubtful. Some underscore-heavy web sites changed over to all hyphens with improved results.

1 question is why didn't Links SQL take this into account (assuming GT knew about it)?

I've always tried to avoid any underscores like the plague and doing so has paid off for me. In fact, my web design site currently ranks #1 for "web site designs" (as a non-exact search) at Yahoo over 46 million other pages. I've been #1 for it at Google too.

Trust me, it DOES make a difference! The question is will GT Links be updated for it? In the meantime, I want to switch all of the static links from underscores to hyphens. I talked to a a programmer about writing a script for this (and he says it'll be simple), but he has zero experience with GT Links or LinksSQL. Can anyone here help with it?

Thanks again for your feedback!
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Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
Here's another link with information on this from a site featuring everything GG says:

http://www.markcarey.com/...s/archives/high.html

This has the message linked earlier ranked as HIGH in importance and the conclusion reached seems obvious.

There are other links to further proof from the initial link I posted, if you look for those.

Since it seems to be a fact that the hyphen is better, I hope GT Links will be updated to allow hyphens to be used with a toggle switch. That way those who want to use them can do so. If someone is happy with the underscores as they are, they are set.

If it wasn't worth it, why would some designers break 99% of their SE links to switch?

Sorry if I seem disrespectful to anyone. Thanks again for your feedback on this issue.
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Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
FWIW, here is GoogleGuy's quote regarding using hyphens (over underscores):

Yah, I'd stick to hyphens, periods, or commas. Most people seem to prefer hyphens. If you use an underscore '_' character, then Google will combine the two words on either side into one word. So bla.com/kw1_kw2.html wouldn't show up by itself for kw1 or kw2. You'd have to search for kw1_kw2 as a query term to bring up that page.

The characters you can use in domain names are pretty restricted: a-z, 0-9, and the '-' character. For subdomains and url paths (stuff after the slash), you've got a lot more flexibility, but I'd recommend keeping it pretty simple. That makes it easier for search engines and users to understand.

This looks crystal clear to me! How can such an important tip for the #1 engine get ignored? If GT didn't know, that's one thing. Because someone disagrees is another.

Please GT, add the ability to use all hyphens instead of underscores ASAP if possible! Adding a toggle for static mode would satisfy me since I won't be using dynamic mode.Tongue
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Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
You need to remember that that message is from a year ago - a lot can change in a year. Also your 'tests' (yours or pugdog's) aren't very conclusive - they don't prove anything.

We're not SEO experts, so that's why we haven't implemented anything like this. However, if you're only using GLinks in static mode, it's relatively simple to change the url generation behaviour. A hook on Links::Table::Category::as_url (category_as_url) and Links::Table::Links::detailed_url (detailed_url) were added in 3.0.1.

Adrian
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Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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So bla.com/kw1_kw2.html wouldn't show up by itself for kw1 or kw2

If i understand the above correctly, it means a url like:

http://somesite.tld/some_page_url_a012_id.html

Would not showup for a012?

Well all of the links show up on G if i just search by the protion in red and it's part of a long url (coming from Glinks) rewritten though.

Thanks
HyTC
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Mail Me If Contacting Privately Is That Necessary.
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Re: [brewt] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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You need to remember that that message is from a year ago - a lot can change in a year


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Also your 'tests' (yours or pugdog's) aren't very conclusive - they don't prove anything.

Yes a lot can change in a year, however you can check the search results for above term right now and you will notice that in general urls with hyphen tend to score/rank better than urls with underscore.

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Would not showup for a012?

What I am trying to say is, even though it *might* show up for the term a012, but if you wanting *best* possible ranking then you should use hypens over underscore, as if in any comparision of 2 website, given everything same, website with the hypen url is likely to score/rank better when compared to underscore url.

Also, anyone using Links SQL is easily going to have over few thousand pages in the directory and the different of hypens vs. underscore and actually make a significant difference to the bottom line in traffic & hence in revenue for the website owner.

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We're not SEO experts, so that's why we haven't implemented anything like this

If you guys would be able to make this small change in GLinks, it would be very much appreciated and I am sure along with me every person with GLinks License will also enjoy the wonderful benefits of extra traffic they would receive from search engine/s.

Vishal

Vishal
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Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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This has the message linked earlier ranked as HIGH in importance and the conclusion reached seems obvious.


I disagree.

But that is neither here nor there. I also don't trust GoogleGuy, and I don't care if he's checked out or not. He only knows what he's led to believe, and I doubt he's an authority on all aspects of Google, and I doubt that they would want that information leaked out if he were. Go ahead, blindly believe his posts, but it doesn't make much sense for a company to be as black-holed as it is, and allow an employee to comment and toss out "secrets". I've worked for big companies, they don't do that.

Also, as pointed out, you can easily override the "_" with a '-' if you'd like. Maybe GT will put in a "define your own character" field but it would cause as many people to complain and confuse more with 'which is better' discussions.

I find '_' more readable. I have been on-line for over 20 years, and a "_" has always been used to replace a " " (space) character, while a '-' has not. The use of '-' was fostered due to the DNS/Domain Name system, and a few early programs that chose to use it. Partly, I guess, because the '_' was often used as a reserved (or traditionally expected) lead character for an internally called function or variable. But again, irrelevant.

What is relevant, is that you can't figure out from querying the interface, which is "better" unless you were able to have two pages equally "ranked" for the same content keywords, and all that varied was the "_" or "-". There is no way to do that, since even on the same site, google will rank things differently, and no one knows why.

The real key, is CONTENT, and not page naming.

BTW: if you search for "searchengine", google asks you, immediately, if you meant to search for "search engine". It still pulls up 1,000,000+ pages with "searchengine" but it knows the difference. "search_engine" still picks up only "search_engine" searches, but the sites come up on "search engine" as well.

FWIW: I dont' trust Google Guy. I don't think anyone really should. Take it with a grain of salt. Also, I don't think any search engine today is going to choke on "-" vs "_" or even a runon word. ;) Domain names are given a priority, because they [should] define a site. A page name *may* be given a higher rank, but unless the content on the page is meaningful, the page name doesn't count for much.

Oddly, the search Google has for Gmail is *not* the same as used in their search engines. It's extremely literal, and doesn't do a "contains" type search.


PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

The best way to contact me is to NOT use Email.
Please leave a PM here.
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Re: [SWDevil.Com] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
In Reply To:
Yes a lot can change in a year, however you can check the search results for above term right now and you will notice that in general urls with hyphen tend to score/rank better than urls with underscore.
Can you really say that for sure? If the pages don't contain the exact content, it's hard to make such a comparison. Maybe the content of the pages which use -'s are structured better (or whatever google analyses for content). You must remember that people who are using -'s are probably the ones making search engine optimisations to their content itself (which probably has more effect on the score/rank itself). Until someone does a direct comparision (eg. two pages with the exact content, just different filenames, linked from the same pages, etc), or Google officially says how it works, then you'll never really know which is better.

Also remember that Google isn't the only search engine out there - maybe other search engines are penalising links that use -'s in their filenames (not likely, but who knows).

Adrian
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Re: [brewt] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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Can you really say that for sure?


Based on my years of work experience doing SEO, Yes I can.

Vishal

Vishal
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Last edited by:

SWDevil.Com: Apr 23, 2005, 10:19 PM
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Re: [SWDevil.Com] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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Can you really say that for sure?


Based on my years of work experience doing SEO, Yes I can.[/quote]

Just for those reading this, not to open up more debate, if everyone doing SEO agreed on what was important, then there would not be the plethora of options an choices for SEO firms. Everyone has a different idea of what is important, what works, and different approaches.

IMHO SEO is a red herring, and it keeps the "spammers" and "borderline" sites and site operators busy, while the the "real" sites develop content, and don't worry about what they name their pages, or if they use a '_' or '-'. There *are* things that work better, and most of it has to do with CONTENT on the pages, or how a page looks in Lynx (a css page when the css file can't be found, for example).

Google has spent a lot of time to make sure "tricks" and "backdoors" and "loopholes" don't work. They put huge amounts of money and effort into making sure CONTENT is what is important, and the search engines that are playing "catch up" are doing it even more so -- not making the "mistakes" or "missteps" that google had to correct early on. Any "trick" a web operator uses, is usually cancelled in the next round of updates. Their site ranking plummets, but the site that was plodding along with content stays the same, or rises.

The point is, it's your *opinion* that "-" is better than '_' and that is all it is.

It's mine, that "_" is better than '-' in most cases. And that CONTENT is what matters.

But the _truth_ is something we are going to have to wonder about, and each webmaster needs to decide what is important to them. I have a lot of very high ranked pages with '_', and I'm not about to change :)

But anyone reading this, should make up their own mind, and if SEO is important to them, they need to do about 3 or 4 40+ hour weeks reading the stuff that is out there, and then go back to creating content, in well formatted, uncluttered, logical pages.

The *ONE* thing google has always said, is to create pages for the USERS not the spiders.


PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

The best way to contact me is to NOT use Email.
Please leave a PM here.
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Re: [pugdog] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
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then there would not be the plethora of options an choices for SEO firms

There are many reasons for having more than one seo firm (or for example programmers, I mean one is enough, we might not need more , right? or wrong?), just think about it, we choose different things for different reasons, however whatever the reasons facts remains facts.... lets hope this debate of seo firms end here, else it can be a ever lasting conversation...

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The *ONE* thing google has always said, is to create pages for the USERS not the spiders.
If pages are the only things you care about, then I assume you are going to stop using the static looking url and stop using urls like http://betterbeads.com/..._Programs/index.html at
http://betterbeads.com/ and will have entire site in dynamic looking urls, right?

What works on getting better ranking at search engines is totally different than what you or I think, as our personal opinion can be biased but facts aren't. In addition, for best results we need to look at facts without polluting them with our personal biases and act based on facts.

It is very enlightening to continue this discussion, however I would love to see if there is anything that you have, to backup your support that underscore are better than hypens for search engine ranking, then it might make the conversation more fun & interesting.

Vishal

Vishal
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Quote Reply
Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
In Reply To:
You need to remember that that message is from a year ago - a lot can change in a year. Also your 'tests' (yours or pugdog's) aren't very conclusive - they don't prove anything.

We're not SEO experts, so that's why we haven't implemented anything like this. However, if you're only using GLinks in static mode, it's relatively simple to change the url generation behaviour. A hook on Links::Table::Category::as_url (category_as_url) and Links::Table::Links::detailed_url (detailed_url) were added in 3.0.1.


Nothing on the hyphen vs underscore issue has changed in the last year. I think some folks at Google were indeed upset that GoogleGuy let this tip go out public. It was almost immediately after this clarification he went into a LONG quiet mode!

I linked some test results, but they certainly were NOT mine! On the contrary, I wanted to show independent results. What I did use as "evidence" was my web design site (Yes, I know it looks like 1998, but...) currently ranks #1 for "web site designs" (without quotes) over 46 Million pages at Yahoo (+ Google in the past). I checked again today, and I'm still at #1 at Yahoo today (but over 45,800,000).

I can FLATLY state, if I'd been using underscores instead of hyphens, there is *NO* WAY I would've EVER got to #1 period. I researched it 4+ years ago and it STILL holds true! Take that with a grain of salt too if you want, but I'm being honest. My clients' sites are where the most benefit of this choice has been proven to me.

In my informed opinion, just like Google, Yahoo MUCH prefers the hyphen as well. I did try to pass this tip to GT last year, but noone seemed to take me seriously. Considering G & Y deliver 80+% of SE traffic, it's nothing to write off completely. FWIW, I've also reached #1 for exact same search at MSN (4 million pages) too.

Another BIG problem with underscores is you CAN'T tell from an underlined link if there is actually an underscore OR a space being used. Hyphens will avoid this!

If keyword1_keyword2 does not help EITHER keyword1 OR keyword2 being found individually, it actually hurts them BOTH at the same time! That is very serious.

If keyword1-keyword2 helps BOTH (at the same time!) why NOT always use that? That's ALWAYS been my rule of thumb and I am SO glad I've always stuck with it.

I'm glad to hear it is "relatively simple to change the url generation behaviour" in GTLinks now. Will it be too difficult to add in a new toggle for the next update? I sure hope not... I want ALL keywords in my directory to be found individually.

Adding the ability to do this will be a HUGE help for all of your new customers! If your existing customers wants to keep same format, there'll be no change at all as the default option could still be to use underscores as it's always been before. I'd much prefer you guys to build in a toggle instead of hacking default behavior.

I didn't start this thread to brag on my rankings. I want GLinks to be improved!

Sorry again to those who disagree, but I've done online design since dial-up BBS days at 300 baud and web design since the very beginning in 1994. I'm not some rookie. I normally don't share my "secrets" with potential competitors, but I'd like to help ALL of us in this community get an edge over all others who are using other software.

In this case, the fact that hyphens outperform underscores is no longer a secret.

Thanks to ALL who've joined in this discussion! I hope it has opened some eyes.

[ADDED:] Hey, I'm willing to be the Guniea Pig to prove it helps my own directory!

Last edited by:

Gamecock: Apr 26, 2005, 12:26 AM
Quote Reply
Re: [SWDevil.Com] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
In Reply To:
Quote:
Can you really say that for sure?


Based on my years of work experience doing SEO, Yes I can.

Vishal


Thanks for going out on a limb to agree with me SWDevil! YOU have made thread get the attention of GT staff, something I could not do all by yourself. I'm glad to see you are quite knowledgable on this and also backing me up that GG is legitimate. You're right, his #1 job is probably to NOT get Google into trouble.
Quote Reply
Re: [pugdog] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
In Reply To:
Quote:
This has the message linked earlier ranked as HIGH in importance and the conclusion reached seems obvious.


I disagree.
Pugdog, I'm sorry you evidently fall on the other side of this often discussed issue. I certainly respect what you have done to help those using GT's s/w.
Quote:
I find '_' more readable.
The issue is not what HUMANS see, rather what SE bots see and how they interpret what they have found. If they IGNORE an underscore, as GG says, then 2 keywords are being COMBINED into a potentially nonsensical word. That's a pretty serious concern for me.
Quote:
I have been on-line for over 20 years, and a "_" has always been used to replace a " " (space) character, while a '-' has not.

Hey, I'm an online old fart too, but I'd have to disagree with that statement. Here's another way to look at it. The hyphen has always been used as a word separator (important for using multiple keywords in filenames and file directory names in SEO), while the underscore has not. Maybe at ONE time (4-5 years ago?) there was no difference. Now, there most certainly is one!
Quote:
The real key, is CONTENT, and not page naming.
Hey, I certainly agree on that! But in this case, a question is by how much? Off the top of my head, I'd guess it's 90% content and 10% the other stuff. But when you're up against MILLIONS of other competing pages, every edge you can get is VERY important! The "_" vs. '-' falls into latter 10% factor. If there is exactly equal content, it's the other 10% that makes a big difference. Let me state that I do NOT use ANY "black hat" dirty tricks! I am "white hat" all the way. But, I feel the hyphen over underscore falls into white hat SEO.
Quote:
FWIW: I dont' trust Google Guy. I don't think anyone really should.
I have to disagree here too. I do feel to just ignore what GG says is unwise. I surely do NOT suggest anyone redo their entire site to take advantage of hyphens over underscores. But it IS a fact that some have done just that - literally THOUSANDS of pages! You have to ask WHY? Doing so is clearly a HUGE loss in the short term for what may not turn out to be hardly any or no significant improvement at all in the long term. I'm glad I never faced that!
Quote:
Also, I don't think any search engine today is going to choke on "-" vs "_" or even a runon word. ;)
I agree no decent SE will "choke" on the difference. But I will much prefer to give the SEs what THEY prefer, as opposed to what any human prefers. If a site is rewarded for doing so (which I feel it clearly is), why NOT give that to them? It may not make much difference, but it could mean a #1 vs. a Top5! I've probably said enough and maybe even too much. Please don't hold our differences of opinion against me as I will probably need your assistance on other GLinks issues. Please tell me you won't feed me disinformation. OK? Smile Truth be told, I really wish GG had kept his mouth SHUT on this entire issue! I felt I already knew this "tip" & I was disappointed to see others learn of it. Best regards, Gamecock
Quote Reply
Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
Quote:
Please don't hold our differences of opinion against me as I will probably need your assistance on other GLinks issues. Please tell me you won't feed me disinformation. OK? Smile Truth be told, I really wish GG had kept his mouth SHUT on this entire issue! I felt I already knew this "tip" & I was disappointed to see others learn of it. Best regards, Gamecock


Why would I do that?

I just disagree, and there is no way to prove it one way or the other. Newbies to this business should understand it's all speculation, and google stirs the pot with GG. It's up to you to believe or disbelieve. "The TRUTH is OUT there."

In some ways, the '_' gives you an edge, because you *can* search on "Black_Horses" and not be deluged by "Black Horses" hits, or "Black" hits.

If you decide to search on "Black Horses" your "Black_Horses" site will still come up.

The '-' is a "negative" operator, and means "without" or "not containing". Google, and other search engines filter it out by converting it to a space in a query. *sometimes* you can force it with double quotes, other times, it's still translated as a space.

Google Guys suggestion that "Black_Horses" would be treated as "BlackHorses" did not pan out. Remember, searching for "searchengine" pulled up different searches than "search_engine". So how it was indexed was different, as well as how the search interpreted it. Both "searchengine" and "search_engine" were indexed. "search-engine" did not seem to be, and was always reduced to "search engine". (no "search-engine" results came up in a search for "search-engine" quotes included).

I have read much of what GG has said, and I have seen behaviour to the opposite, or more correctly, to the subtle difference. Sometimes what is *not* said, is more important. eg: The truth, but not the WHOLE truth.

Also, and in keeping with the paranoid conspiracy theory of large corporations, what GG says may be true at the time he says it, but is only allowed to say it because tomorrow, or next week, it's changing.

The bottom line, is really that SEO "tricks" don't work. It's not one thing that works, but a weave of many, many things. Maybe "-" works for you, because of other things on your pages, your domain name, your relative ranking, or a lot of other things that are *not* taken into account in the public arena.

Also, things change with every crawl, and every revision of the spider, and the spiders are revised regularly, not "all of a sudden". They phase them in, seeing how they work and phase out the old crawlers. That probably explains the differences in rankings more than anything -- not every site was spidered by the same crawler ;)

Getting ranked on sites *not* affiliated with search engines, not in "shady neighborhoods" and in different class B addresses as your server's IP are better ways to improve your ranking, and will overshadow almost anything else. One good link on another site, with reasonable inbound traffic to you, will affect you much more.

No one talks about "traffic" with google. Google says adwords/adsense won't change your ranking, but how can they ignore the number of "hits" served by their ad servers, and the number of "clicks" that are served, and the CPC of each click? The data is there for them. They "know" what sites are popular based on ad serving, clicks, ctr, and CPC's. They don't need Alexa for any sites with their served code on it. They know where you are coming from, since you have a non-expiring google cookie.

I have sites that are getting relatively "low" traffic, but the CPC is in whole dollars. I have sites getting much more traffic, but the CPC is under a dime. These are *not* for any keywords listed in the "top" lists. Nothing medical, nothing disease, debt, money, loans, Oprah, <G>. But, apparantly, the return or "value" of the customers obtained has pushed the costs up. I have other sites, similar/same keywords, getting the "dime" rates. So, the point here is, it's what's _NOT_ said that is more important, sometimes :)

If you focus on one thing, it distracts you from the larger whole.

One last reminder: As for search engine vs human reader, the only thing google has continually said, is "Build your sites for humans/surfers, not for search engines. Content is king."


PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

The best way to contact me is to NOT use Email.
Please leave a PM here.
Quote Reply
Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
Hi,

I do agree that the rewrite rules for building URLs should be more flexible than always using the underscore.
Especially this would be good for those using foreign-language-characters.

Why doesn't GT create a build-rewrite-rules-option into the Links-Setup-Area ?

Perhaps a text-field where you can define the url-building-rewrite-rules, e.g.



SPACE => _
" => _
? => _
! => _
=> ae
=> Ae
=> ss


...and so on.

( see also: http://www.gossamer-threads.com/...orum.cgi?post=280971 )

Regards,
Manu

Shopping Portal Shop-Netz.de | Partnerprogramme | Flugreisen & Billigflge | KESTERMEDIA e.K. | European Affiliate Marketing Forum.

Last edited by:

ManuGermany: Apr 26, 2005, 11:05 PM
Quote Reply
Re: [brewt] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
I have created a plugin that will allow you to change spaces into hyphens (or whatever you want). See the announcement here.

Adrian

Last edited by:

brewt: Apr 26, 2005, 11:59 PM
Quote Reply
Re: [brewt] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
In Reply To:
I have created a plugin that will allow you to change spaces into hyphens (or whatever you want). See the announcement here.


What more can I say but... Thanks Adrian... you are awasome Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile

Vishal

Vishal
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Last edited by:

SWDevil.Com: Apr 27, 2005, 12:16 AM
Quote Reply
Re: [brewt] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
In Reply To:
I have created a plugin that will allow you to change spaces into hyphens (or whatever you want). See the announcement here.


Thank you VERY MUCH Sir! I really do appreciate that...
Quote Reply
Re: [Gamecock] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
Not that I want to dredge this thread up, but I felt I needed to point this out, if nothing else, to avoid keeping a secret in an open discussion.

In another discussion, I was prompted to do a search for "hypen vs underscore"

Guess what the first page or two to come up were? This thread, with the "_" character in the URL.

It had a PR of 0.

Several pages below it had a PR of 1 or more.

So... URL's are counted differently than body text. The _ seems to be well parsed.

If you want to "nail" your searches, use the "_" in your URL's *and* put (maybe even hidden) the "_" version of your main keyword on your page, since that will be indexed as-is, giving you an edge if a user searches for "key_word" rather than "key word" or "key-word".

This isn't "proof" one way or the other, but if the #1 ranked for this search is a set of pages with a PR of 0, and "_" in the URL, ... it has to mean _something_


PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

The best way to contact me is to NOT use Email.
Please leave a PM here.
Quote Reply
Re: [pugdog] Hyphen vs. Underscore - There IS a difference! In reply to
Yes, it's funny that Google ranks that thread as #1 for the phrase "Hyphen vs. Underscore" now. It's a testament to how G likes to see fresh content, isn't it?

I don't really think ANYBODY (except maybe webmasters) does searches with an underscore between keywords (or a hyphen for that matter). It is either just the keywords themselves OR as a exact search with quotation marks around them.

I won't restart the debate here either, but I'd just avoid underscores in general.
But, to each his own perhaps... It's great that GT has added an option to use a "-"!

By the way, my #1 rank at Yahoo (+ Alta Vista/AllTheWeb) for "web site designs" (without quotes) is still holding up, despite the result pages total going down from 54 Million to 49 Million. Hey, I must have done SOMETHING right! ;)

Best regards,

Gamecock

Last edited by:

Gamecock: May 9, 2005, 8:06 PM