Question: I have noticed an ongoing debate on whether hyphens are good or bad for SEO. One side (Gurus, SEOMOZ, etc..) say that hyphens are bad since they make you look spammy. They suggest to use a suffix instead of hyphens. What has your experience been with this?
Answer: Despite what you may be told, hyphens are good in URL’s. If you have a keyword phrase such as ‘medical malpractice’ (assuming you are a personal injury attorney), it is a GOOD IDEA to use hyphens in the file name as in http://www.yourcompany.com/medical-malpractice.html. It is common sense that NOT running the words together makes it easier for Google to ‘see’ what this page is about.
That said, this isn’t the most powerful factor in SEO. The TITLE tag is a zillion times more powerful, to name one.
Now is it ‘spammy’ to use a hyphen? No. What is spammy are those enormous multiword urls’ that are word hyphen word hyphen word hyphen word hyphen word hyphen word hyphen word hyphen as in http://www.yourcompany.com/medical-malpractice-lawyer-in-san-francisco-california.html. I would agree that those sort of ridiculous URLs should be avoided.
But in either case other factors are certainly more important. And using underscores are to be avoided vs. hyphens. The mere humans have trouble ‘seeing’ underscores on the Web, as the common blue underlining obscures them.
Got a question? Click this link to email Jason or call 888-993-1122. Dr. Jason McDonald is founder and Senior SEO / Social Media Director of the JM Internet Group. He teaches the SEO training classes for the group, and therefore provides most of the SEO tips for this blog. His goal with this blog is to provide an easy 'one-stop shop' for the busy marketer looking for tips, tricks, and secrets on how to get to the top of Google and Bing for free using proven SEO tactics. When not dreaming up SEO tips, Dr. McDonald lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two dogs, a cat, four iguanas and twelve children (just kidding). Really you read down to the bio on this guy? Enjoy the blog.
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