Hyphens (-) and underscores (_) are seemingly insignificant characters. On the web, they do have differences that deserve a notice. This article will demonstrate to you the differences and which one to use in specific circumstances. Don’t be ignorant or confused any longer when using hyphens or underscores.
What is the difference?
Most of us think of links on our website as text that our visitors see. Search engines read text differently from visitors. To rank higher on search engines, there are few more considerations for links. If I want to be ranked for single family homes near the University of Oregon, I know what I want for my page title. What should my link to that page look like for search engines?
Formatting vs. Link Structure
The text of this link can display however we want, but the actual link needs to explain itself to the search engines for indexing. Many of us have links that look like: the_best_area_in_town, but what does that link structure look like to a search engine? Well, for one thing, every underscore between words is removed. That link looks like: thebestareaintown and that is not helpful at all. Instead, if we used hyphens between the words, those get replaced with a space, so we end up with a link that looks like: the best area in town. Now each of those words is separated and the title of our page matches our link structure. This is a significant difference in how that page will rank and indexed by various search engines.
Small Steps… Great Difference…
Keep this simple fact in mind as you go through and create pages and set up links. Stick with this link structure to index your pages correctly and overall ranking will increase. This is just one small piece of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but it is one that will make a world of difference. Most content management systems do this by design these days, but there are still a few out there that want to use underscores for the link structure. Remember, when it comes to SEO, content is king, but it isn’t everything. Sometimes even little things like using hyphens or underscores can give you a boost.
Listen to this post...