A client has asked me to add a page to a website (on the advice or their SEO company) which has the same url as an existing page except it has underscores instead of dashes between the words. This doesn't seem right, even although the content is totally different, but I wondered how Google would view this. Can anyone advise?
Can you show more clear providing information? As Google's policy, duplicate content is not allowed or you should use rel=canonical tag to lead google's bot to the original page.
The content isn't duplicated and there is a canonical link for each of the two pages concerned. One page has the url like keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.php and one has keyword1_keyword2_keyword3.php
Both pages have content which is different but relevant to the keywords.
My gut feeling is that Google will cope fine with it, but actual people are likely to get confused. Why would you want to use exactly the same words in the page name, if the pages are different? Surely some other combination of words would be better, and then you can be consistent with whether you use hyphens or underscores. Just as having case-sensitive filenames is a recipe for trouble when you need to distinguish between page1.htm and Page1.htm, you're setting yourself up for a fall if you need to distinguish between page-about-stuff.php and page_about_stuff.php
Hi Stevie D. Your point is right but can I ask how do you arrange filenames to tell SE's bots exactly know which url is orginal if they have same content? I tried myself on canonical tag with two duplicate content but different urls. Then I request google bot revisit my site but show no errors? Can you explain too?
The way that the 'canonical' tag works is this...
Let's say that you have a page at example.com/products/printers ... but that page can also be accessed from www.example.com/products/printers, example.com/index.php?type=products&detail=printers and maybe more besides. To ensure that all your googlejuice is concentrated into the one page and not spread thinly across all the different variations, you would put in the <head> of the page and all its variations
<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/products/printers">
That tells Google that even though it has arrived at the page via a different URL, that is the one you want it to use.
If you've used canonical tags correctly, you shouldn't see any errors resulting from them.[/ot]
I agree with Steve on this. We dont have a clear idea on whether Google considers Hyphens and Underscores as two different parameters or the same. So, to be on a safer side, why not make a single character change in the URL, which would make a bigger difference and solve the problem completely. Moreover you have mentioned that both the contents are different, which is a good thing.
Having duplicate content on two subfolders on the same domain doesn't seem to me like a problem. Moreover, if you want to experiment, you must try the same link text, one separated with hyphens and other with underscores with either duplicate or same content and check out what Google says. Moreover, I dont think there is going to be a problem in SERP too, as Google does not just consider link text for ranking a particular page for a particular keyword.
Thanks Stevie D. Informative guide! I got it now.
Thanks timesheet for your advice too. On SERP, I didn't note that. I will do some small search to figure out.
I don't - but the client and her SEO guy does.
I totally agree with what you've said - the main reason for my post was to confirm that my thinking was on the right track and to have concrete justifications for my thinking to feed back to the client in the hope that she will have a rethink.
I agree with Stevie D that the search engines will probably cope, but real people won't. This may be a silly question, but why can't you have keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.php and keyword2-keyword1-keyword3.php, or some similar arrangement?
Seach engines treat hyphens and underscores completely differently.
my-wonder-ful-site.co.whatever is seen as "my wonder ful site".co.whatever
my_wonder_ful_site.co.whatever is seen as "mywonderfulsite".co.whatever
This is irrespecive of whether it is done as root-, or sub-directory.
I have serious doubts about a SEO company that recommends uploading both verisons as a way to get better ranking. I have no doubts about Google being able to deal with both verisons, but I don't think it will do you much good. The final verdict is up to the searchengines, and for the actual ranking it is even more due to how much competition there is, and how good they are.