Stephan Spencer reveals some key insights from Matt Cutts’ presentation at WordCamp 2007 last week in San Francisco on the CNET News Blog. One of the major points is that Google will begin to recognize underscores as word separators, which had not always been the case. That means that the usage of the term “search_engine_optimization” in a web address historically would not have been read by Google as “search engine optimization” (it would have been read as “searchengineoptimization”). Traditionally, incorporating hyphens in keyword specific terms is the SEO best practice for creating keyword sensitive web addresses. That being said, it’s unclear if Google is actually incorporating this functionality now, or in the near future, so I would still recommend using hyphens in the short term (if you are currently implementing keyword specific web addresses).
Web Address Management
A couple weeks ago I wrote a post on best practices for search engine friendly websites, which included web address management. Echoing some of my thoughts related to SEO best practices for web addresses, Stephan (and Matt Cutts) also reveals:
- Query strings can be read by Google, but Matt cautions against more than 2 or 3 parameters.
- The number of slashes in a web address are not an issue with Google, but it may be an issue with Yahoo and MSN.
- File extensions are not an issue with search engine crawling and indexing.
My recommendation with all of these things is to invest the time in making your site as accessible as possible for search engines to crawl and index your content. That means that if you are currently using dynamic URL’s or excessive folder directories, invest the time to fix these issues as soon as possible. The goal here is to get search engines like Google to understand and index your material as fast as possible, with as few kinks and potential roadblocks as possible.
Getting It Straight From the Horse’s Mouth
If you are attending conferences or seminars with actual members of Google (or Yahoo, MSN or anyone with documented expertise for that matter), it’s incredibly valuable to receive confirmation of these types of issues straight from the source. I recently was having dinner with a few colleagues and we were discussing a Google presentation we attended and this key point really hit home with me that night. As search engine marketers, we often learn and educate ourselves about ranking and search engine related factors through reading, testing and experimenting (not on client’s sites of course) and our conclusions often get drawn from the results, building on the years of experience and knowledge overall. Getting confirmation from the people behind the scenes (or for that matter, trusted people with more experience than you or I) is incredibly valuable as an ongoing best practice for quality search engine optimization and search engine marketing.
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