Hi Jill,

I have been getting your newsletter since 5/02 and try to use all your tips. I have a question that I have never seen addressed and it may be because it's not important.

Does what you name a page (not the "Title" but the file name) matter to search engines when they crawl a site?

In other words, I can name a page without underscores like this:


...or use underscores like this:


My real question is do the underscores have an impact on how the spider crawls the site or are long file names better? I'm thinking it doesn't matter but would like to be sure. I've been trying to name my pages (filename & title) with a relevant keyword but sometimes it's difficult. Also does a file name have any impact with ranking at all?



Jill's Response

Hi Lola,

File names in general don't have much effect on rankings, contrary to what many people think. However, if you do want to use keywords in them, you'd want to use a dash, not an underscore. Underscores are treated as a character and not a space, and therefore the words in your file name would not be parsed (read separately) by the search engines if they were to try to read them. (Note for readers: Please don't write me and say that Google highlights words separated by an underscore in the search results, so they must parse them. Highlighting is highlighting and not the same thing as actually parsing the words.)

We have lots of previous articles on this topic in the newsletter archive, on the forum, and in the SEO FAQ. Also, I plan to do an updated article on this topic as soon as I have the chance because this question is one that is asked at least 3 times a day at the forum!

Whatever you do, don't change your existing file names just to add a keyword phrase, because that would simply cause more problems than it would solve.

Hope this helps!


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June 1, 2007

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > File Names and SEO