I have to choose between two usernames, one comprises of just my first name i.e. http://example.com/john while the other comprises of full name i.e. http://example.com/johnsmith.

Which of the above URL will be more SEO friendly when I search for John Smith, I think that the latter one has more chances to rank better, as it contains the entire search query.

4 Answers 4


Yes, the latter one is better. Yet, if applicable, /john-smith is better than /johnsmith

  • 3
    Are you sure that /john-smith is better than /johnsmith
    – user18748
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 23:34
  • yeah, please show some documentation about words including '-' Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 11:50
  • 2
    First of all, there isnt any documentation about this problem. Secondly, "john smith" is not a good example. But logically, longer word groups like "thispenishuge" (this-pen-is-huge) may confuse search engines. Words have to be seperated correctly, so when search engine visits your website, it doesnt come across with irrelevant content. This is where SEO occurs.
    – rzon
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 16:03
  • 7
    @rzon You're right, john-smith is better, in the sense that it separates the two words, "john" and "smith". This video from Google, though it's talking about the relative merits of underscores and hyphens as word separators in URLs, confirms that Google interprets a hyphen in such a way as to treat the two words separately, which is important since "johnsmith" is a nonsense word, whereas "john smith" is not. youtube.com/watch?v=AQcSFsQyct8
    – GDVS
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 17:16

If your exact search term is going to be the full 'John Smith', I am pretty certain that you are indeed correct and that having /johnsmith would be better as you are targeting a more refined search term and the extension matches up completely with the search term, which we can only assume is a good thing.


There's no need to artificially add keywords to your URLs. There's no need to create fake, static-looking URLs for Google. We published a blog post on static-looking vs dynamic URLs a while back, which has some more insights on that topic.

With that in mind, I would recommend choosing a URL-structure that is useful to the user, and not choosing one for SEO purposes. Also, if you find that it's not easily possible to create an absolutely clean URL structure, consider just keeping the dynamic URLs (eg http://example.com/users.php?id=12345 ).

  • Is that an official statement/position John? Are you really saying that there is no user/Google benefit in rewriting URLs to make them user/Google "friendly"? I know that there have been significant issues with incorrect rewrite rules over the years, but current "best practice" for both users and SEO has been to ensure that the URL structure is "clean" - e.g. removing filetypes (for portability), removing/normalising query-strings (for readibility and relevance) and, since Google does highlight the terms in the URLs, for SEO. It would be great to have you make the distinction very clear. Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 11:59
  • 1
    It's hard to believe, but there are other search engines. ;) Personally I'd recommend john-smith just to be consistent with separating words and avoiding confusion, but really it's probably a negligible difference either way. Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 14:08
  • I wouldn't say there's been a suggestion of artificially adding keywords, if, by artifice, we mean shoehorning them in without regard for usability or common sense. Use of a word separator, to me at least, aids legibility for humans and - according to the video linked above - makes more sense to Google too.
    – GDVS
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 7:47

Actually, using keywords in your URL doesn't significantly affect your ranking, but if you've got the choice, why not go for /johnsmith? It would be both SEO and user friendly. However, to rank for a specific keyword, you have to use this keyword in the page title, in headings, in the page text etc. Here's the article with more detailed explanation on improving visibility in SERPS.

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