URL Pathing Underscores: Good or Bad?
One of the biggest challenges webmasters face is securing domain names that have the best chance of getting ranked—and remembered. The number of domains being registered today is enormous and webmasters are now reverting to names that use a combination of dashes and underscores to grab the keywords they want. However, this isn’t always a good idea and can backfire if you aren’t careful.Here are three reasons why domain name underscores can undermine your online visibility—and a Google tip to try instead.
Tricky Addresses Are Tricky to Remember
Aside from the regular users of your site, having underscores in your domain name can make it difficult for new or infrequent visitors to remember your URL. Not only can this be problematic in finding your site, these visitors may be inadvertently directed to one of your competitors in the process.
Underscores Can Elongate Your Address
Sites like Google Adwords allow a maximum of 35 characters for a domain name—so if your name is made longer through the use of underscores; i.e. online_poker_lovers_come_here_and_play, you won’t be able to type it into the Display URL box which will prompt Google to close your campaign. This limits a critical advertising option for pay-per-click advertising.
Use Hyphens, Not Underscores
From an SEO standpoint, it’s important to note that Google uses hyphens as separators in URLs and body text, whereas underscores combine the words into one word. For example, www.poker-world.com is indexed as “poker world” since hyphens are read as a space, versus www.poker_world.com is indexed as “pokerworld.” The general rule when choosing domain names is to either go with a single keyword domain (if available) or use multiple keywords separated by hyphens, not underscores.
Does your domain name contain underscores? If so, do you think it’s helping or hurting your ranking? Let us know in the comments below.