Geoff Wilson / Digital Marketing / June 2nd, 2008

To Dash or Underscore, That Is The Question

One of our SEO-savvier clients recently requested that we use dashes instead of underscores in his page titles with multiple words. 

For example, he asked that we use:

about-our-company.aspx

instead of:

about_our_company.aspx

This client is absolutely correct, because this approach is better for the search engines.  Matt Cutts, the famous Google developer who maintains a great blog about Google’s ranking and spam detection system, makes this recommendation in one of his posts:

Lots of computer programming languages have stuff like _MAXINT, which may be different than MAXINT. So if you have a url like word1_word2, Google will only return that page if the user searches for word1_word2 (which almost never happens). If you have a url like word1-word2, that page can be returned for the searches word1, word2, and even “word1 word2?. That’s why I would always choose dashes instead of underscores.

The full post is available here — and notice how he uses dashes in the URL for this post:

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/dashes-vs-underscores/

Using longer page names and URLs, with dashes separating the keywords, is good strategy for getting better rankings for your pages.  It has long been proven that your page title and URL do play a part in the ranking algorithm for most major search engines.  Just make sure you don’t go too crazy with this strategy, or it will have the reverse effect and get flagged as spam.  Moderation is always good when it comes to SEO!