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I'm using the Ruby on Rails plugin, FriendlyId to create SEO friendly urls based on the name's of the albums and generes within app. If the plugin finds an ampersand in the title it replaces it with a -.

So for instance if I have a genre with the name of:

Fitness & Workout

It's converted to:

http://myapp.com/genres/fitness-workout

I was wondering would it be in my best interest to override the plugin and insert the literal word, and instead? Does having the dash character have any negative impact on how my pages are crawled?

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    I actually prefer the URL without the "and"; it's easier to read. Google is giving less benefit to keyword URLs now anyway. – Andrew Lott Sep 7 '15 at 17:23
  • Thanks for the feedback. Would you happen to have that article regarding Google's take on this? – Carl Edwards Sep 7 '15 at 17:49
  • "SEO friendly urls" - is really an outdated idea (if it ever was an idea based on fact?). In fact, the plugin page does not mention "SEO" and describes them as "pretty / human-friendly URLs" - which is exactly what they are. – MrWhite Sep 7 '15 at 19:05
  • I was under the impression that human-friendly urls contributed to better page-ranking. – Carl Edwards Sep 7 '15 at 19:08
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    "human-friendly" URLs can help with click-through rates but they do little to help "ranking", if at all. – MrWhite Sep 7 '15 at 20:20
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I'm pretty sure the word "and" is in the list of stop words for many search engines. This means "and" doesn't have value unless someone is using advanced search settings and is trying super hard to search for the word "and" (by putting that word in the "results must contain" box) along with other terms in the regular search box on the same page.

Also, the word "and" consumes three characters where as a hyphen consumes only one. Depending on what the client uses to access the URL, if the URL exceeds a certain number of characters, it won't be processed properly. For that reason, I'd try to limit complete URLs to less than 80 characters total.

This URL here also recommends using hyphens as word separators in URLs.

http://www.ecreativeim.com/blog/2011/03/seo-basics-hyphen-or-underscore-for-seo-urls/

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    Stop words are a misnomer. Stop words dropped from the search lexicon back in 2002/3 time frame that we can confirm and likely far earlier than that. However, it is a term that has no search value except in determining the semantic meaning of other terms. But this requires more than three words. In this case, the hyphen is preferred since it is a very short URL/URI and likely only the two remaining terms would have any value. In other words, making a change would yield nothing. Your points are spot on except for the notion of a stop word! Just a heads up. – closetnoc Sep 7 '15 at 20:32
  • Well, I find on my website that stop words hurt because then they become keywords. For example, a local club named "Bloke and 4th" that appears on my site is listed lower in search results than the club just named "Bloke". – Mike Sep 7 '15 at 20:47
  • If you are using the Google Search Console list, I would advise ignoring it. All terms are in your content are keywords for your site. That is best. Keep in mind that Google does not use lists of keywords and direct term matches and has not for a fairly long time. This is to your benefit. Your site can now be found for terms that you never used simply because of semantic proximity. The more you give Google, the more opportunities that your site can be found. Lately, I have been advising against the keyword chase for a good reason. Google is working hard to defeat keyword focused sites. – closetnoc Sep 7 '15 at 20:58
  • Of "Bloke and 4th" both and, 4th do not contain much search value. However, change 4th to fourth, and you might see a different result. This is why sometimes I would do something like Bloke and 4th (fourth). So of your two examples, I would expect Bloke to match first since there is a direct term match and disambiguation cannot be easily had for Bloke and 4th thus possibly creating confusion on the meaning of bloke in this case. Semantics is very helpful, but can also give results people would not always expect without understanding semantics. You bring up a good point for my paper. – closetnoc Sep 7 '15 at 21:06

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