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Do you recommend using special characters in URLs?

Do you recommend using special characters in URLs? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

We have a fun question today from Christian Oliveira in Madrid. Christian wants to know– A lot of European languages, like Spanish or French, have special characters, like a C with a cedilla, and so on. Would you recommend to use them in the URLs? What about capital letters? Would you 301 redirect mysite.com/Page to mysite.com/page? I really enjoy these questions. So Google, in general, is able to handle special characters. We’ve got provisions for Punycode and all kinds of ways to handle URLs relatively well. But if it’s possible to avoid special characters in URLs, I would recommend doing that, because Google is not the only search engine in the world. And a lot of search engines are not looking for unusual or non-ASCII characters in the URL path. So being able to handle those special URLs can be a little bit tricky for search engines. And so if it’s possible to make it easily available without the special characters, that’s probably the route that I would pick. Otherwise, if users see various percents and escaping, they’re a little less likely to copy and paste that. They are sometimes a little less likely to mail that, or the URL might get long. It could get truncated, those sorts of factors. Now, the other part of this question was about capital letters. And I really enjoyed that. In my experience, a lot of people want to use a capital letter in the URL path, or even in their domain name. And for me, at least, as a user who’s been on the web for a long time, it looks a little non-savvy to have it in the domain name, because domain names, it really doesn’t matter whether you have a capital or a lower-case letter. So to see a capital example site dot com or in an email address, Bob@ExampleSite.com, to me it looks almost a little amateurish. And it’s very easy for users to get mixed up. They they go to one URL path with the lower-case P, and they expect to get the same content that they would get if they go to slash upper case P. So if you have the option, I personally would recommend making pretty much all of your URL paths be lower-case. If you’re using upper-case, people are going to mix that up. They’re going to type it wrong. They’re going to mail it to people and type it, and they’re going to get it mixed up. So if it’s possible, if you can standardize– and the standard way to do it is with lower-case– that’s the way that I would recommend it. Now, different web servers might have different issues with that. But if you have the ability to just make everything be lower-case, that’s probably the path that I would recommend. It’s less so for search engines and less so for search engine rankings and more just for consistency and to match what most people are used to on the web. When people are mailing each other, when people are typing in URLs, it’s just a little simpler for them to remember. So I hope that advice helps a little bit.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: