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On webpages generated from user generated content, I create slugs for the URLs based on the title (just like stackoverflow does):

http://www.example.com/photo/day_at_park

If there's more than one slug "day_at_park", I'll append a count:

http://www.example.com/photo/day_at_park,2

Does it make sense to include, in this example, names of people involved in the content. So if it was a photo of Susan and Bob, the URL might be:

http://www.example.com/photo/day_at_park,susan_surandan,bob_smith

One benefit is far fewer chances of needing to append a count like the second example above. The URLs also are more descriptive about the core parts of the content.

On the downside, the URLs are clearly longer. And I have to introduce more ugly commas (though better than - or _). If, in the above example, there are many people in a photo... I would have to cut down the slug size by removing people... that seems inappropriate, basically attributing more SEO importance to arbitrary people.

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If you put an ID in your URL, like Stack Overflow does, you can put anything you want after it, with or without the commas. Compare http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7265578/adding-names-to-slug-of-url#question‌​ with stackoverflow.com/questions/7265578 or stackoverflow.com/q/7265578 –  Robert Harvey Sep 1 '11 at 2:36
    
@Robert, yes I understand an ID allows me to put anything I want. The question of whether to add names involved in the content still remains though. Also, adding an ID is much worse from a length, aesthetic and SEO perspective than adding a duplicate count # isn't it? –  at01 Sep 1 '11 at 6:27
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Sep 1 '11 at 13:32

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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted
  1. You're over-valuing the "keyword in the url" impact for SEO purposes. Yes, all other things being equal having keyword may assist (they'll be useful to your visitors).
  2. Don't use underscores in URLs. Just don't.
  3. Don't use commas in URLs. Just don't. Hypenating the URL with -2 is much better.
  4. Length of the URL is also not a radically large factor - except when you're differentiating 30 characters vs 230...
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Wow, that was very surprising to see Matt Cutts say Google treats dashes as separators and underscores as joins. –  at01 Sep 1 '11 at 10:01
    
That discussion has been ongoing for several years. The video I linked to was an update from his earlier post in 2005! –  Mike Hudson Sep 1 '11 at 22:49
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