Dashes vs. underscores in SEO

I regularly get asked whether dashes or underscores in URLs are better for search engine optimization.

ie which of the following is best – or ?

For the past six or so months I’ve leant towards dashes instead of underscores – but it’s always been a ‘best guess’. Today in reading Matt Cutt’s blog I think I’ve made a good decision as he writes ‘I often get asked whether I’d recommend dashes or underscores for words in urls. For urls in Google, I would recommend using dashes.’

He goes on to explain why – but I think you’ve already got the answer. For Google Dashes are best.

Blogging Strategy – Be a Maven

Paul Chaney has a good post on ‘Mavens’ – a term used in Malcolm Gladwell’s book – Get the Latest Price on the The Tipping Point (an absolute must read):

‘The Maven is a person who knows everything about something. Ask them a question about that topic and they’ll give you more information that you care to know. They are, according to Gladwell, information brokers who have the knowledge and social skills to start epidemics.’

Paul points out a few Maven bloggers and how being one (or becoming one) is a great blogging strategy and an excellent way to build blogging traffic. He’s spot on the money with this observation.

The great thing is that because blogging is so global you don’t necessarily have to be a maven of some mega popular topic in order to be successful. Recently I’ve had contact with a number of bloggers that have come to dominate (in a nice way) the tiny niches that they write in and in doing so have become quite prominent.

A number of them are readers of this blog so I thought it might be interesting to open up the comments in this post for people to talk about either:

1. Blogging Mavens that we know of (ie people who are becoming or who have become experts in a niche through their blogging on it)

2. The Niches that we are trying to become mavens in – tell us about your journey to become an expert in your field. How are you doing it, how’s it going, what has worked and what hasn’t? What have been the benefits of this approach? Don’t be shy or modest – feel free to just share it like it is….

US Blog/Web Conferences – Which one is best for ProBlogger?

I might be in a position to be able to get over to the US in October or November and am wondering which conference to get to. So far I know of two that might be worth while and would love to get your opinion on them. Which should I attend?

1. BlogOn 2005 – Social Media Summit – October 17 -18. This conference has a growing list of pretty cool speakers, many of whom I’d love to hear speak and learn from. The planned sessions look interesting but my worry is that it will be a conference for businesses that blog rather than blogs that ARE a business which is perhaps more my field of interest. As it is a conference focussed upon blogging it would probably be good for networking but I’m not sure how much I’d learn about entrepreneurial blogging.

The location is attractive as there are a number of bloggers that I know in New York that I’d love to catch up with during, after and/or before the conference.

The cost is a big downer of this option with early bird registration for the two days of $1095 or normal registration of $1495 (in $1AUD = $1.30USD). On top of a return airfare (add another $1500AUD) and accomodation – this could be a bit of a killer.

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31 Days to Building a Better Blog – Day 25

It’s Day 25 of the 31 Days Project and today we have 7 reader submissions for your reading pleasure:

There’s only six days to go in the project – if you want to be included in the growing list of tips at the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project Headquarters then you’ll need to get your skates on.

Yahoo to Offer Publishers Content… and Ads

There is a good, 5 question interview over at Search Views with David Zito of Yahoo’s Publisher Network where he talks a little about YPN’s beta test. The last question has be a little curious:

‘5. You were recently quoted in the WSJ as saying that Yahoo will eventually provide content and ads to YPN partner sites. Can you tell us anything more?

I wish I could tell you more but our PR team would not be happy with me. What I can say is that Yahoo! is the only portal that offers such a broad array of content like – shopping, travel, music, reviews, video feeds, etc. We are excited about the opportunity to offer publishers access to this type of content, which in turn will make for a more compelling user experience for their users. I’ll be sure to let you know when we do start to offer these things.’

Yahoo will provide content to partner publishers as well as the ads to go on them…. wonder if he’s talking about offering their RSS feeds on other sites – or something else…

Preach it Jason

I think Jason Calacanis might have missed his calling as a tele evangelist (or motivational speaker) in this sermo….I mean post on entrepreneurship over at his blog.

‘We’re Gladiators in this business. Real entrepreneurs fear NOTHING. If we get thrown in the ring with 12 opponents who are twice our size we don’t look at it as sure defeat—we look at it as the opportunity to show the world how quickly we can overcome odds other people see as insurmountable….

When we started Weblogs, Inc. the goal was to do something that main stream media could do, but Brian and I were convinced we could do it better. When we look at CNET, the New York Times, and Time Warner we see weathered Gladiators waiting to be unseated. Delusional? Of course, but how else do convince yourself to enter the ring against uncertain odds? Crazy is an asset…’

Best of the Web

Business Week Online is having a Best of the Web Survey – a few blogs are among those nominated but its not the most imaginative list. Perhaps we should head over and submit a few of our favorites for the people’s choice award. I’ve just put in a couple – who would you nominated?

Affiliate Programs – Linkshare

This post is part of a series on Affiliate Programs for Blogs

LinkShare (aff link) is another affiliate megamart like Clickbank whereby you sign up as an affiliate and then have access to hundreds of affiliate programs all via the one system. If you want to get into the affiliate programs of names like iTunes, Dell, Disney, Footlocker then LinkShare is your best bet.

I’ve used LinkShare for just a few months now and have had moderate success (averaging $150 per month). I’ve used it pretty selectively on just promoting a couple of products and know it’s something I should work on a little more as its got such a wide range of products and is reasonably easy to use.

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9rules Network Changes

The 9rules network has changed its members agreement to allow member bloggers to keep all of their own earnings – all the 9rules crew gets is a share of any advertising that 9rules finds for you. Scrivs explains:

‘We are also happy to announce that we have a new member’s agreement in which the major change is that all members get to keep 100% of their Adsense revenues (or any other revenues they generate on their own)! Along with the great members forum and the crazy stuff going on inside there is no reason that you shouldn’t want to add your site to the Network.’

In addition to this announcement Scrivs mentions that 9rules will open up the network to blogs written in Spanish.