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How does Google view apostrophes in URLs?

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How does Google view apostrophes in URLs? Katie778 7/19/11 9:57 AM
I have read the FAQs and checked for similar issues: YES
My site's URL (web address) is: www.alzheimers.org.uk
Description (including timeline of any changes made):

Hi, I need to find out the best way to handle apostrophes in my URL structures. My main keyword, "alzheimer's" obviously contains an apostrophe which is why this is so crucial. Since Google Instant was turned on most people now search for the keyword with the apostrophe so my question is, what is the most advantageous way to handle them in URLs.

The 4 main ways to do so seem to be:
1.  alzheimers (remove apostrophe)
2. alzheimer-s (convert special character to dash)
3. alzheim%27s (convert special character to unicode)
4. alzheimer's (no change made)

Option 1 seems to be the most commonly occurring option amongst high ranking sites but I am aware this doesn't necessarily mean that it is the best way. In Google's guidelines they state that URL patterns should be as simple as possible and seem to suggest that lack of special characters is preferable. This would seem to leave option 3 as favourable but not many sites seem to be using such a technique and Wikipedia seems to be the only high-ranking site about Alzheimer's that includes the apostrophe in the URL.

With so many options it would be great to know what the preferable URL structure is considering the keyword is of such importance to us.

Thanks
Re: How does Google view apostrophes in URLs? ѕquibble 7/19/11 10:59 AM
I would go with option one and keep clean urls and not think that there would be any real value in putting apostrophe in url for keyword..
Re: How does Google view apostrophes in URLs? Katie778 7/20/11 1:41 AM
Thanks Squibble.  Any other contributions?  It is really important to us to get this right.
Re: How does Google view apostrophes in URLs? StevieD_Web 7/20/11 12:25 PM
Google is pretty smart about the apostrophe issue
 
one of my main products is an apostrophe company (John Doe's).
 
For years the page url contained an apostrophe (and also used underscore separators {John_Doe's_Company} rather than dash separators {John-Doe's-Company} ).
 
For most part Google had no problem with the apostrophe in the url (or the underscore separators) and offered the apostrophe version via the Google Instant.  Most importantly Google also provided my page in search results for searches without the apostrophe.
 
That said, I was constantly getting errors of about 3 or 4 per 100 visitors who were landing on the wrong url and getting a 404 error.  I suspect it was I the combination of the special character AND an underscore adjoining each other and some search engines (not Google) were confused.  There was also the problem with customers who "knew" the url and were typing it themselves (often incorrectly).
 
I tried redirecting the error....
 
.... but because (as squibble stated) it is best to keep the url clean ....
 
... and because I had two issues (special character and underscores adjoining as well as customer's typing the address themselves) ...
 
... I did not see a long term successful outcome of the problem.....
 
....so I "corrected" the url, got rid of the special character (John Does) and underscores in the url.  Now the url reads John-Does-Company and the search errors (from other search engines) as well as customer's typing the url are gone.
 
 
Does Google still provide my url for an apostrophe search?  Absolutely.  I am still in the #1 SERP for the search term.  Also am in the #1 SERP for searches without the apostrophe.   I do show the name in the title and meta description with the apostrophe and use the name throughout the text with and without the apostrophe whenever it is appropriate.
 
 
Bottom line?  I would use your option #1.  Cleaner, simpler and easier to use for you and your customers.   Google is going to have no problem figuring out the issue.
 
 
Re: How does Google view apostrophes in URLs? Becky Sharpe 7/20/11 1:11 PM
Yes, I'd leave out the apostrophe, much cleaner and Google understands it as an optional spelling or error.