The question: Can I use the + symbol (example: examples.com/category/product+name) in my URL website architecture?
Although a plus symbol is a reserved character in a URL, it seems to be treated as a valid word separator nonetheless and delivers equal relevance to a given keyword. The only SEO downside I can see is that it suggests the pages are dynamically generated, which increases the chances of obscure pages/complicated URL’s not being indexed.
Should we use the + sign in the URL if we have a choice?
I wouldn’t use + in a URL. This has to do with various encoding problems it can present. The plus (+) character is technically reserved for use in the query string part of a URI. It’s easier to use dashes and underscores, and there’s no search engine optimization advantage to +. + is also -technically- the same as an encoded space. It’s better to have example.com/category/product-name
Would I Change + signs to a – sign for an established site?
I wouldn’t recommend changing a plus symbol to a hyphen for the sake of it on an existent site with established URL’s unless there is some benefit other than increased keyword relevance in a URL you’re aiming for, or the site is experiencing search engine indexing problems. You’ll likely end up with less total value even if you migrate URL’s appropriately.
Is anyone using this model successfully today?
Yes, Zazzle.com is using + symbols in their URL’s very successfully.
Why is this an important question?
A trend that many top online retailers are using for search engine & user friendly designs is advanced tagging in their SEO eCommerce Website Design. Look at product pages on Amazon or Zazzle to see how it works or contact WebBizIdeas.com at 1-800-993-2249 to learn more about the benefits.