Hyphens in URLs or URL Rewriting for WordPress SEO

Hyphens in URLs or “URL Rewriting” for WordPress SEO, Content Management Systems (CMS), Dynamically Generated Content and Shopping Cart Systems”:

If you have a dynamic website that creates pages from data then you are likely to have URLs that have stuff like http://www.mysite.com/product.php?product_id=8

This is not easy to remember, means nothing to a human or search engine, and does not help with google SEO or any SEO.

You should find out how to setup your backend, shopping cart engine, blog engine, or CMS to rewrite the URLs to search engine friendly versions like:

Howto URL rewrite in WordPress:Admin->Settings->Permalinks->Custom Settings->Enter text "/%postname%/"
Most WordPress installs I see do it this way instead:
Wordpress:Admin->Settings->Permalinks->Custom Settings->Check Radio button "Month and name"

Whalla! WordPress will now take care of the search engine friendly URL rewriting for you based upon your article’s title!

What really happens with URL rewriting on an Apache server (let’s hope this applies to you ;-), is that the .htaccess file gets rewritten by WordPress, but you can have direct control by looking and and if you’re brave, editing this file. You’ll need to know Regular Expressions (Regex) to even attempt this, a great tutorial on URL Rewriting is at addedbytes.com

Footnote: Are underscores in URLs ok to use? Well, they can only be in the path, which is after the domain name, not legal in a domain name, spaces are not either for that matter.

Matt Cutts from a speaking appearance at Word Camp 2007 said that underscores will be parsed like hyphens soon at google if not already (august 2007). He also dropped some info implying that google can parse dictionary words out of a domain name, but I wouldn’t count upon that, the engine has to work harder to pluck your keywords out of a oneworddomainname.com

Now for Matt’s quote from this website:
“Matt: Now the interesting thing is that we used to treat underscores as if they were like word A Underscore word B We would glom that together .And we would index that as A underscore B If you searched for the word A we wouldn’t have returned your post.
We are in the process of changing that. We might have already changed that.

So dashes and underscores are almost exactly the same. but in engine world dashes are nice because if there is no space at all the search engine has to segment it.”

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