Jim Westergren
A blog about me, my projects, SEO, Web Development and Personal Development.
"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas A. Edison

SEO Test Finalized – How to write the URLs?

The way I learn SEO is by observing and testing. I don’t listen to all that junk on forums and articles except the very few sources that are my favorites such as randfish.

In my tests I have all of the test pages with an exact amount of generated random Lorem Ipsum to not hit the dup content.

Testing data taken from here my datacollection for tests.

Question for the test: how should you write the URLs?


This is a test that was started on the August 11, 2005 in regards to the different URLs after a discussion on a forum.

Let’s say we want to optimize a certain web page for the phrase “word1 word2 word3″.

How should you then write the URLs?

Is there actually a difference and in that case is that related for Google, MSN and Yahoo?

Let’s look at the present data:

Check the Google search results

(results from jayuz.com are scraped content, nothing to do with the test)

First + then – and then without, underscore not listed (?).

Check the MSN search results

Frist – then + and then without, underscore again not listed (??).

Check the Yahoo search results

First without then + then dash and then underscore.

In the middle of September 2005 (40 days after test start) I noted down the test results and at that time:

Google: Exact the same
MSN: Also exact the same
Yahoo: Was ranking first + but on #2 dashes and the others not listed. Yahoo is slow, we all know …

I think it is interesting that A, test results shows the same results after 4 months, B Google ranks + in URLs highest despite what Matt Cutts blogged about it and C that underscores in the URLs were unlisted in both G and MSN (because dash version was there?).


Strange as it might seem the SEs seem to prefer + signs in the URLs however in the viewpoint from the visitor I don’t find that attractive and professional. So I would recommend to use dashes.

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About the Author Jim Westergren Jim Westergren is a web entrepreneur from Sweden now living in Bolivia. He is happily married and has two lovely children. Some of his interests are web development, SEO and writing. He is the Founder and CTO of TodaysWeb and his current major project is N.nu. Read his . Follow Jim on Twitter or Google+.
  • http://www.phatinvest.com Maccke

    Interesting test you done there Jim. Good work.
    I will share my testresults from my hosting changes later on ;)

  • http://www.fastpcnet.net/ John Tourloukis

    Well I’m glad I’ve chosen to use dashes. Have you noticed any limits as the number of dashes you can use and still be effective?

  • http://www.jimwestergren.com/about-me-jim-westergren/ Jim Westergren

    My belief: In the URL it doesn’t matter. In the domain use only 1, absolute max 2.

  • http://www.topwebsitetips.com Dwayne

    Good blog! I think a lot of what Matt says is what Google would like to have in place, or may have in place in the future, but not necessarily what is in effect right now.

  • http://www.wanttoknowmore.com/ Chris Andrews

    That’s an interesting little test there. But I’m wondering how the results are scewed by the duplicate content filter, which has clearly hit your results in Google.

    So perhaps the result listed first is listed there arbitarily, or because that’s the one google “found” first or some other magic reason.

  • Pingback: SEO Keywords

  • http://feeds.feedburner.com/Ativan wacfeld

    looking for information and found it at this great site.

  • http://www.geolocalseo.com Local SEO

    Great test.

    It would appear that there are no duplicate content issues, Chris Andres mentoined this, but the pages and title tags are different. Only one sentence is the same.

    I stick to using dashes. And man, I just hate underscores. They are just plain stupid. Why so many still cling to using these is beyond me.

    I may have to try some + file names on my “SE traffic only” sites.

  • http://www.jimwestergren.com/about-me-jim-westergren/ Jim Westergren

    Yes, use dashes. Also best for visitors.

    Actually just follow this:

  • http://domdelimar.com/ Dom

    Google ranks + in URLs highest despite what Matt Cutts blogged about it

    That’s actually not true anymore. Today (January 8, 2007), Google ranks dashes highest.

    Nice test BTW.

  • http://www.mifdesign.com Daniel – design

    To Dom: This article was written in 2006! :) Of course this results not true.

  • http://theiphoneblog.it marco

    Dashes are the best choise, ’cause also blogger (blogger.com, the google’s blog platform) use dashes.. so it’s logical to think that google like it much more than plus or underscore. ;)


  • http://iguide.travel iGuide

    About a year ago, Matt Cutts of Google mentioned Google was “in the process” of changing Google to treat underscores the same as dashes in urls. So, has this old rule finally changed?


  • http://www.poolcuestoyou.com Andrew Beam

    What about the end of the url? Should there be a forward slash – an extension (.html or .php, etc.) or nothing at all at the end?

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