SEO advice from Tom Schmitz of Search Engine Land

9 SEO Quirks You Should Be Aware Of

From: Search Engine Land

Tom Schmitz on January 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm 

They say the devil is in the details. When it comes to search engine optimization, those details include some important quirks you need to know about.

  • Conforming to search engine behavior
  • Keeping-up with changes in search engine behavior
  • Playing well with other websites to protect your SEO
  • Avoiding common practices that obstruct SEO

Here are nine examples of what I call SEO quirks. See how many you know about.

1. In Subfolder & File Names, Use Dashes, Not Underscores

  • Good:
  • Bad:

Many developers favor separating words in file names with underscores (_) instead of hyphens (-). They are conditioned to this behavior because some programming languages reserve the hyphen, for example, as the subtraction infix operator.

On the other hand, Google was written for nerds by nerds; the search engine tends to see underscores as concatenation, or joiners, so technical terms like FTP_BINARY will appear on search results pages.

  • If you are creating a new website, use hyphens.
  • If you have a small website without a lot of inboud links, change existing URLs to hyphens and 301 redirect old URLs to new URLs.
  • If you have an enterprise site that uses underscores, keep your old URLs and CMS rules, but switch from underscores to hyphens as the naming convention for all new file names.

A word of caution, keep the number of words and hyphens to a reasonable amount. On category name or topic level pages, I suggest short and sweet, one or two hyphens. When you create file names for articles, you have a lot more leeway; try not to go to town or stuff keywords.

2.  Avoid Dashes In Domain Names

Select a domain that is your brand or represents your business in a concise, professional manner without dashes. Do not worry about keywords. While I do not know of any technical reason not to use dashes in domain names, from a practical perspective, they look cheap and compromising. That may raise a caution flag when you reach out for links and citations.

One of the primary reasons people select hyphenated domains is to insert keywords. Last year Google updated its algorithms to dampen the exact match domain benefit. However, long before this, the success of numerous brand name domains, many verging on the ludicrous, proved you do not need a keyword rich domain to succeed.

3.  In Subfolder & File Names, Use Only Lower Case Letters, Numbers & Hyphens

Google and Bing are both terrific at handing complex URLS with spaces and non-standard or encoded characters. Where the problem lies is when other websites link to your documents. If you do not encode special characters, the content management systems of those websites that link to your documents may encode them.

For example, spaces become %20. If those websites use different character sets than what your site uses, they may not translate special characters correctly. The safest thing to do is keep it simple by using only a to z and 0 to 9 and hyphens.

According to the technical standard, URLs are case sensitive. Most content management systems handle mixed case addresses by rewriting them to lower case, but check yours and do not assume this.

Also, some analytics and SEO tools are case sensitive and will report different versions of the same URLs separately. The safest path is to make sure all your internal links are lower case and make lower case the style standard for all copywriters and coders.

To continue reading what Tom has to say about the following, go to:

4.  The Great Subfolders Vs. Subdomains Debate

5.  Be Careful With Parameters

6. Use Flash Or Silverlight To Insert Multimedia Elements, Not For All Content

7.  Pick Only One Per Page, HTTP: Or HTTPS:

8.  Make Sure The Markup & Visible Text Matches.

9.  Using The Vertical Bar In Title Tags