Don't Use Pipes In Your URLS | Says Google

Oct 11, 2010 • 8:43 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

A Google Webmaster Help thread has one webmaster asking if it is a bad idea to use pipes in the URL. A pipe is this: |. They asked if it is a bad idea to use it in your URL, such as|awesome|page.html.

He said when he plugged in a URL with a pipe in it using the Google Keyword Tool, Google return an "invalid website" error response.

Google's JohnMu said he doesn't recommend you use the pipe. He said:

We'll generally crawl and index any accessible and valid URL, I'm sure you'll find many URLs with "pipe" characters in it in our index. That said, just because it's possible doesn't necessarily make it a good idea :-). Similar to using spaces in URLs, those characters may cause issues elsewhere, so personally, I'd try to minimize the risk of problems anywhere by avoiding those kinds of URLs.

Just so you know, an inurl:| search does not return any results:

inurl:| pipes and google

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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No Name

10/11/2010 01:14 pm

inurl:- doesn't return any results too ;)


10/11/2010 04:49 pm

I Think the same applies to the [ _ ] (underscore) too?

Barry Schwartz

10/11/2010 05:05 pm

Bkarati, no, that is wrong. underscores are fine.

Carl Bartlett

10/11/2010 05:28 pm

I always URL encode my page names and directories before creating them dynamically, you never know what characters a user will use.


10/11/2010 05:35 pm

would a domain provider even let you purchase a domain name with a pipe in it? 1and1 internet gives an invalid characters warning

Barry Schwartz

10/11/2010 06:17 pm

Danon, forget the domain, its the whole URL.


10/11/2010 06:21 pm

I can't think of one valid instance why somebody would want to use a pipe in a URL.


10/11/2010 08:15 pm

I use pipes in the titles of my sites. In URLs I think its a bad idea even because some servers do not understand these letters.

Simon Cullum

10/11/2010 11:21 pm

Purely from a User Experience perspective, pipes can make a URL read in a rather robotic way and certainly doesn't flow well, unlike the best practice method of using dashes. Both dashes & underscores are now treated as word separators, so no difference from the SEO side. Down to personal preference, of which most seem to opt for the slightly more user friendly dashes.

No Name

10/12/2010 09:11 am

Hyphens in URLs, pipes in Titles.


10/12/2010 10:24 am

Pipes just show that you have some basic knowledge of SEO - so your site reads, Keyword | KeywordKeyword | Brand Name. I say remove it and go for a sentence that makes sense to include your keywords in.

Khem Raj

10/12/2010 02:13 pm

search does not even return any results for [_] and [-], now the question is, what one should use? and why one would use pipes in URL? These are just the separators......

No Name

10/12/2010 07:17 pm

Google suggest to use hypens instead of underscores. See this article: I think a pipe is a strange idea in a URL, it's not common. Use it instead in title.


10/22/2010 02:43 pm

There are some characters like the pipe (|), comma (,), and underscore (_) that are considered marginally acceptable by w3c. What that translates to is they work in a lot of cases and then break others. Speaking from experience, the underscore breaks some old browsers. The pipe breaks LinkeIn. From a user experience standpoint, the pipe is a good URN character to use to replace a slash (/) from a value of criteria used to create the directory structure. It reads well when used similarly in the URN, title, h1, etc. But since using that in only a few URN paths, I have definitely seen the problem it causes. In the effort of trying to make your URN legible, I would stick to as few characters outside of a dash as is possible. URL encoding works for preventing problems with programs, but is a visual roadblock to a normal person reading.

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