Underscores vs. dashes in URLs

Underscores vs. dashes in URLs

Matt Cutts explains the difference between how Google interprets underscores and dashes in a URL.

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  1. methodinsane on March 25, 2021 at 3:11 am

    How relevant is this info to google/seo in 2013?

  2. alok ranjan on March 25, 2021 at 3:12 am

    i am not agree matt. (_)Underscore or (-)dash doesn’t matter for wikipedia because wikipedia quality matter ok plz learn more matt cutt

  3. Chayse Roth on March 25, 2021 at 3:12 am

    I have links to my site with both www prefix and without. Does google count both address as one and should domain www or Not to www ?

  4. Dean Cera on March 25, 2021 at 3:14 am

    thank you of the film;
    had build about 40 websites with _ underscores_ years ago because that was the standard (learned method) and found out now that – dashes – separates the words. So I went back to change the sites with – dashes – and found my self in front of a lot of work; 1000s and 1000s of pages.
    Leave it alone and spend your time on new pages and/or sites and not to risk the contamination of those sites that are already built; use dashes for your future site work.
    PS If you have html pages that are important to the site; then spend the time but beware you my lose 100s of links.
         Back up the site to a separate hard drive before you attempt to do this.

  5. Michael Muryn on March 25, 2021 at 3:18 am

    I don’t think people should adapt to Google, but Google should find way to get the most out of content about real usage (and it probably does on most point). People should however do the "right" thing, and that is where I would support Google, but then I have to be convinced it is the "right" thing. 😉

  6. eXtressIT Lotta Gustafsson on March 25, 2021 at 3:19 am

    THIS ALSO EFFECTS SEARCHING IN GOOGLE APPS DRIVE! FILES WITH UNDERSCORE DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE SEARCH RESULT. Funny though they appear in Autocomplete but not later in the searchs result list. This is very disturbing and I cannot find any information that it will com a change and now we are writing 26 August 2015!

  7. 92idoo on March 25, 2021 at 3:20 am


    What do you think about using underscores for words that come together and hyphens for separate words?



  8. Stèvé Liøn on March 25, 2021 at 3:25 am

    2018 update please!

  9. Jamil Gotcher on March 25, 2021 at 3:25 am

    When Matts says it’s a word separator does he mean that the hyphens do NOT or DO string a search phrase together? I"m hoping the answer is DO. Example: Idaho-Potatoes If someone searches Idaho Potatoes will my hyphenated example be good for search ranking? Does Google rank Idaho separate and Potatoes separate as an unrelated search phrase if /Idaho-Potatoes used in the url?

  10. Cyprus Homebuilders on March 25, 2021 at 3:26 am

    Thanks Matt! It’s a very valuable piece of information for my company as I am working very hard at the moment on making our site visible to the right target audience. I do have a question though an answer to which I cannot seem to find anywhere.

    When forming URLs for pages, does it make any difference if I use/do not use prepositions and other form words? For example, what would you say looking at:
    mydomain.com/teach-your-child-to-swim-in-a-pool vs. mydomain.com/teach-child-swim-pool

  11. spifswaps on March 25, 2021 at 3:26 am

    What if you don’t use a hypen or an underscore? Is that bad?

  12. Jake McGrew on March 25, 2021 at 3:28 am

    Spammers bought many popular non-underscored and non-hyphenated domains and are reselling them at a huge ransom.

  13. Spook SEO on March 25, 2021 at 3:28 am

    Thanks Matt for the valuable instruction!!! Although dashes in the URls play a crucial role in the SEO prospect, it’s not recommended for the sites already have indexed on search engine. However, use dashes instead of underscores for new sites for better ranking impact.

  14. Marcia L. King on March 25, 2021 at 3:28 am

    Is this logic still true?

  15. Sara Ray on March 25, 2021 at 3:29 am

    thank you

  16. guggelheim on March 25, 2021 at 3:30 am

    Oh, and Google itself uses underscores in its urls. What’s that about?

  17. guggelheim on March 25, 2021 at 3:31 am

    Lovely. I hope you understand that calling anyone retarded makes you sound like one. Unless of course you’re thirteen years of age or under.

    It’s simple really. With dashes you lose the possibility to revert a friendly url back to it’s exact original form as the dash character gets a double meaning (it can be a space or a dash). With underscore you don’t lose that information.

  18. Techno Believe on March 25, 2021 at 3:32 am

    who came from udemy course?

  19. Peter Kothampananiyil on March 25, 2021 at 3:34 am

    It is interesting

  20. Gary Cameron on March 25, 2021 at 3:36 am

    The correct word is "hyphen." A dash is two hyphens.

  21. Bray Outdoor Ads on March 25, 2021 at 3:36 am

    Does anyone know what the best practice is for County and City-Specific website pages?
    Example 1: http://www.brayoutdoor.com/los-angeles (which is what we currently use)
    Example 2: http://www.brayoutdoor.com/losangeles (without the DASH)

  22. Michael Muryn on March 25, 2021 at 3:36 am

    Idea to index the parts AND the sum (i.e. tmp, max, tmp_max for "tmp_max") is interesting.

    Idea to let the webmaster define how their website URL are defined are interesting for a "search engine" point of view (would prefer a global standard to define this, rather than Google only).

    I am sure, at least I hope, some people at Google have thought of these ideas already.

  23. Kannan Rajendiran on March 25, 2021 at 3:38 am

    Yes i agree. It is more of user experience.

  24. humanyoda on March 25, 2021 at 3:39 am

    HYPHENS, not dashes!

  25. tofuComputer on March 25, 2021 at 3:41 am

    It’s February of 2019 as I write this comment. Is this actually still true? Any updates on this? (And my two cents: this is humans bending to technology, not technology serving humans. Not good nor reasonable)

  26. Hello Kitty on March 25, 2021 at 3:42 am

    Could you tell me please, will it be good or bad if i’ll redirect urls with _underscore_ to urls with -dashes-?

  27. Adam Arnold on March 25, 2021 at 3:42 am

    This old stuff is so much more informative than the videos you’re putting out these days. Please bring back the good stuff 🙁

  28. guggelheim on March 25, 2021 at 3:43 am

    Reasons why underscore is better than hyphen to separate words in friendly urls:
    1. It’s much more readable
    2. "Nineteenth- and twentieth‑century writers" becomes "Nineteenth–and-twentieth‑century-writers". In some languages, fe. finnish the hyphens are used extensively to join words together. (see Wikipedia article for hyphen for more examples)

    Being a finn, I’m not too happy about Google forcing me to use the ugly hyphens.

  29. Bug InSoup on March 25, 2021 at 3:43 am

    why would I want to use _ when I can simply write twowordstogether?

  30. Ahmad Nur Hadi Rama Wijaya on March 25, 2021 at 3:44 am

    please update !!!

  31. Michael Muryn on March 25, 2021 at 3:44 am

    Keep in mind that it is the search engines that should adapt to find good websites and not otherwise. Do thing right and they should find you.

    Of course in practice, we cannot wait for Google to fix their low-priority tasks and we want to take advantage of every tiny bit of SEO.

  32. Digital Ad Agency / Adwords Consultants NYC LA San Francisco LONDON on March 25, 2021 at 3:46 am

    I recommend just doing yoursite dot com/–_–.php

  33. Brian Swanick on March 25, 2021 at 3:47 am

    This should be a commandment for local businesses. Thank you to the wonderful person who created 301’s…although if you use a CMS, you probably will never have this problem. Others. Just not this one.

  34. Thomas Wong on March 25, 2021 at 3:50 am

    Spook, Matt is trying to explain the different uses of hyphens and underscores, they both have specific uses. Use hyphen if you want to increase the number of keyword derivatives that the page can appear, and underscores to set specific keyword combinations.
    Besides that, Google doesn’t want you thinking about increasing rankings, it wants you to increase the value and relevance of information on your site. 

  35. Karthik Shetty on March 25, 2021 at 3:51 am

    Thank you

  36. 1Source SEO Houston on March 25, 2021 at 3:52 am

    I was looking for the answer to which one was better UNDERSCORES vs DASHES and this video seemed to sum it up pretty quick. Matt indicates dashes are better but if you already have lots of URLS with underscores, don’t bother to go back and change them. Thanks for the advice.

  37. Élysée on March 25, 2021 at 3:53 am

    Q4 2019. Any SEO here has done the test yet? Search query never contains dash or hyphen or underscores.. so what would rank higher drjohnsmith.com or dr-john-smith.com for dr john smith query ?? thanks for anyone insight or link to answer.

  38. Hasan Sumon on March 25, 2021 at 3:53 am

    Hello matt ,my site’s URL was my_site_example_example/65656 ,like that and now my developer fix it and now it is site-example-example/65656 ……. so is there any problem to index by Google or any crawl problem ??

  39. adamsamgee on March 25, 2021 at 3:54 am

    if I have to use hyphens, matt cutts needs to write in a straight line. deal?

  40. MikeEwe66 on March 25, 2021 at 3:55 am

    No mention of RFC 952?
    Does that RFC not specify that hostnames can only contain letters, numbers, the minus sign and dots? http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc952.txt

    RFC 1123 added the option of an initial digit, but did not mention allowing underscores. http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1123.txt

    Sadly, RFC 1178 (Choosing a name for your computer) does not mention RFC 952 or RFC 1123 or underscores.

  41. Jake McGrew on March 25, 2021 at 3:56 am

    Has this methodology or its impact in SEO ranking changed since 2011?

  42. Matthew Jenkins on March 25, 2021 at 3:56 am

    Hey wait, are you the same Matt Cutts from this article?
    Can you make up your mind already?

  43. Michael Muryn on March 25, 2021 at 3:59 am

    Paradoxically with the historic reason, lot of developers are used to use underscore to separate keyword, so it is/was more likely that they use the same pattern to name their resource/filename.

    However, with all the SEO talk, hyphen gained the popularity contest. Without that, we would see more underscore in URLs. Only potential valid reason for hyphen would be that it is easier to type/read for non-techy (?)

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  45. Andreas Belivanakis on March 25, 2021 at 4:02 am

    Dashes instead of underscores is a no-brainer. The real question is, dashes, or no dashes? In other words, is redwidgets better than red-widgets?

    And does the correct answer (if there is one) depend on whether the dash or no dash term is in the domain itself, versus a folder or filename?

  46. Engineeer on March 25, 2021 at 4:02 am

    How do I best encode terms, which already contain dashes, like "Roland TB-303"? Is "roland-tb-303.html" better than "roland-tb303.html"?

  47. Catatan Si Rebiaz on March 25, 2021 at 4:05 am

    Actually I am very curious, what does "underscores and dashes" mean in the YouTube video

    sometimes I get links without underscores or dashes on the videos that I uploaded … sometimes I have 1 underscore … 2 underscores, or a combination of them

  48. Tom Stagg on March 25, 2021 at 4:05 am

    I’m sorry but this needs to be fixed. Example: If I have two files in Google Drive: keyword-test and keyword_test. If I search for term "keyword" then I only get the keyword-test file back. I can never find the keyword_test file. For Google, a search company, this is pretty bad.

  49. Chris Chen on March 25, 2021 at 4:06 am

    Hahaha that’s funny

  50. ThuNderGr on March 25, 2021 at 4:07 am

    This is not the case on the web. See wikipedia for example. A search engine should be as accurate as possible. it should be fixed.