Google OKs Underscores as Word Separators in URLs and More SEO Tips

Still wondering if you should use dashes or underscores in your permalinks? Worry no more; Google considers both as legitimate word separators. This was announced by Google geek Matt Cutts at WordCamp 2007 yesterday among several other pearls of SEO wisdom he dished out to the WordPress crowd.

I’ve written about the epic battle between Dashes (Hyphens, actually) vs. Underscores for your permalink format before, but it was an open-ended tale. This time, we have clear proof from Google itself that once upon a time underscores were shunned as a proper word separator; that is, a phrase separated by underscores such as blog_tutorials would not be parsed as two words containing blog and tutorials. But today, Matt Cutts confirms that this is no longer the case with this search engine’s algorithms.

It’s petty when you really think about it, but I’m glad that case is closed, at least in the Google fanboys’ world. We haven’t actually been following the rules for Yahoo!, MSN, or even Ask. In the SEO game run by the big G, do we ever stop to think about that?

The important thing to remember, though, is when you’ve come up with a formula for your blog’s permalinks, stick to it. Which means it’s best to change them early on, just after you’ve created your blog.

That’s not all Matt Cutts discussed, though. CNet News, Climb to the Stars, and The WordCamp Report have all listed some sound whitehat SEO and webmastering advice from the specialist. Some of these are:

  • Put the name of your post before the name of your blog in the title tag.
  • Put your blog in a location other than the root of your domain. And call it “blog” not “wordpress”
  • It doesn’t matter if your URLs have file extensions like .php or .asp. Just don’t use .exe.
  • It doesn’t matter how many slashes you have in your URLs, i.e., how deep your links are.
  • Use at most 2-3 equal signs or parameters if you’re using dynamic URLs. They will be treat the same way as static URLs.
  • Use permanent redirects when moving to a new blog address and ask everyone to update their links.
  • Use either www or no-www, and either slash or no-slash.
  • Use Google’s Webmaster Console and Analytics!
  • META tags don’t matter as much.
  • Protect your wp-admin folder.
  • If you want to get into Google News, you should have at least multiple authors in your blog.
  • “Don’t worry about the algorithm too much, focus on compelling content.”
  • “If you’re buying/selling links, make sure they don’t affect search engines.”

Originally posted on July 24, 2007 @ 5:43 pm