Google: Actually, Dashes Aren’t The Same As Underscores Yet

Matt Cutts of Google informs everyone that reports of Google now treating underscores as word separators is not yet happening.

Matt explains:

I wouldn’t consider it a completely done deal at this point. But note that I also said if you’d already made your site with underscores, it probably wasn’t worth trying to migrate all your urls over to dashes. If you’re starting fresh, I’d still pick dashes.

It’s Not Just Google That Treats Underscores Like Dashes that I wrote a few weeks ago, obviously now needs to be updated.

We will keep you informed of any new changes with this, as we hear updates.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | SEO: Domain Names & URLs


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Stephan Spencer

    I don’t think I misinterpreted Matt. Decide for yourself. Listen to Matt’s talk, jumping to 17 minute mark in the video, and you will hear Matt say the following:

    The interesting thing is 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, so if you just searched for the word A, we wouldn’t return your post. Ah… We’re in the process of changing that. We might have already changed that. So dashes and underscores are almost exactly the same.

    Hmm… where am I not 100% correct with my coverage?

  • rustybrick

    So what is going on here?

  • http://htp:// Danny Sullivan

    Stephan, here’s where you were not 100% correct with your coverage:

    “If you read Stephan Spencer’s write-up, he says that underscores are the same as dashes to Google now, and I didn’t quite say that in the talk.”

    That’s what Matt wrote, and that’s why Barry originally said that Matt (not us, Matt) was saying you weren’t correct in the report.

    Anyway, I’ve changed it now to just say “reports” and not name you specifically, since Matt said they were going to change it, might be changing it and that they are almost the same all in the same breath.

    Friggin hyphens. I mean lasers.

  • Mike Nicholson

    I have always been using dashes (just got used to and not because of some ranking benefits or anything of that sort). And i don’t think Google’s treating dashes and underscores as same will make any ranking differences. Google might be treating them as same now, but i don’t think they made much difference earlier also.

  • hikingmike

    Ok so I am 4 years late. Do we know if they are completely treated identically now?  I doubt that searching using dashes and underscores is a valid way to test but when I tried I got different results. I’ve been using underscores and I would definitely switch if dashes were better. I will try testing but that takes time and gives an uncertain result.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide