Sunday, August 9, 2009

Should you use Dashes or Underscores between words in the URL for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This issue came up two times this last week for me. The first was an employee who told me that he preferred the underscores to the dashes when naming pages and then I was looking at a well regarded New York online marketing and SEO company that was using underscores for their clients websites. Well, if you have not guessed, both of them were wrong so I though I better share this information. Google's crawler understands the dash (-) as being a separator between individual words. I first noticed this in 1995 when we moved from using scripted query strings in urls with Microsoft's .asp. For example our site's urls were something like and google had a hard time understanding it so we did a lot of work and altered the page to to try and get those key terms in there for google, well... google still did not seem to get it but was understanding our competition as they used something like this: We changed it to the dashes and bingo! it worked. I confirmed that google's system understand dashes while I was at the Google I/O this spring during Matt Cutts Presentation here is a link to Matt addressing this exact issue in his blog:



  1. Thank you, that helps. I really appreciate the explanation.

  2. Dashes are also consistent with domain names that only allow letters,numbers, and dashes not underscores. Also, if you see a link and it has dashes and is underlined (like all links should be), it could appear to have a space instead of an underscore in the URL.