View Poll Results: D What are your thoughts on hyphenated domain names?

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  • I love hyphenated domain names

    6 33.33%
  • I loathe hyphenated domains names

    6 33.33%
  • I have never tried hyphenated domain names

    5 27.78%
  • I have never really thought about hyphenated domain names

    1 5.56%
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Thread: Hyphenated domain names

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  1. #1

    Question Hyphenated domain names

    This is SEO related even though it is reference to hyphenated domain names.

    OK fistly I should say I am a big fan of hyphenated domain names!

    I have many resons for this. This includes, although Google do not directly say so in their webmaster Guidelines they hint at something if you think about it carefully.

    Google URL Structure

    In reference to the green-dress thing it occured to me when I put my Dr Spock logic head on that if Googlebot finds green-dress easier as opposed to greendress then logic tells me that Googlebot doesn't somehow have a personality transplant when it comes to domain names and the same thing must also then apply in this area EG the domain name to.

    I have a couple of my own examples. It took my forum tvworlds.com very little time to get on page 1 for the search term "tvworlds", brilliant that's really useful who the heck is gonna search for that LOL. Whereas (again not all that likely to get searched) it took over 2 years for it to get to page 1 for the search term "TV Worlds".

    I have another site hire-seo.com again this site took just a few weeks to get to page 1 for the search term "hire seo" so I have to wonder if the same taking longer thing would have applied it the domain name would have been hireseo.com.

    I haved experimented over long periods of time and thus far all my hyphenated domains are able to perform very well & much quicker results than domains without hyphens.

    There are other reasons I like hyphenated domains to.

    1 Stationary (& Biz Cards) - especially for domains of more than two words
    2 Vehicles - much easier to read hyphenated words on a vehicle as it whizzes past than it is to read words stuck together, again especially when more than two words are involved.

    The hint that Google give in the URL structure page is typical of some of Googles wording. I remember on one of their pages about pagerank, they exaplin it and explain what is best then make the statement "now go and build links".

    My immediate thoughts on reading this was that they we're telling me to go and write the best content I could in order to get organic links from others through merit. Pretty much everyone else seems to have taken this too mean something completely different.

    So what are your thoughts on hyphenated domains?

    Do you love them?

    Do you loathe them?

    Have you even tried to test then yourself?

    Are you against them because of what you have heard?

    Are you against them because of the tradition in domaining to value non hyphenated as worth more?

    What are your thoughts on hyphenated domain names?

    If past experience is anything to go by is is quite likely the ratio will be 8 to 2 in favour of non hyphenated domain names.
    Last edited by MrFlicker; 2 April, 2010 at 22:57 PM. Reason: typo

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    I would never use a hyphenated domain name!

    First off, they do not qualify for the exact match bonus, which typically renders them useless when it comes to seo benefits. Second, a lot of people neglect to enter in hyphens when referencing a domain name... so if you own Green-Dress.com, you're going to lose traffic to GreenDress.com, I guarantee it.

    For file names, hyphens are great - they are interpreted as spaces.
    For domain names, hyphens are not good at all, and I would stay away from them.

    I have another site hire-seo.com again this site took just a few weeks to get to page 1 for the search term "hire seo" so I have to wonder if the same taking longer thing would have applied it the doman name would have been hireseo.com.
    No. HireSEO.com would rank for the term 'Hire SEO' before hire-seo.com would, simply due to the exact match domain name bonus.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Kovich View Post
    I would never use a hyphenated domain name!

    First off, they do not qualify for the exact match bonus, which typically renders them useless when it comes to seo benefits. Second, a lot of people neglect to enter in hyphens when referencing a domain name... so if you own Green-Dress.com, you're going to lose traffic to GreenDress.com, I guarantee it.

    For file names, hyphens are great - they are interpreted as spaces.
    For domain names, hyphens are not good at all, and I would stay away from them.

    No. HireSEO.com would rank for the term 'Hire SEO' before hire-seo.com would, simply due to the exact match domain name bonus.
    Well I have tested this over a long period Kovich and it is working out well in favour of the hyphenated domains. Did you take a look at the Googel URL structure page btw?

    Also check the search term "Hire SEO" you will see I out rank hireseo.com by miles on both Google.co.uk that I use and Google.com that you likely use.

    I have a number of domains where the same thing occurs over and again to.

    I do have a couple where the non hyphenated domain owned by others presently ranks first and I am in 2nd or third position but in both of these cases their sites have many years on mine as well as which I have no backlinks and they have masses and big PR.

    I am however determined to outrank them with zero PR and by beating them irrelevant of site age with a little more on page SEO tweaking when I get round to it.

    Have you ever spent the time to test a hyphenated domain so you can talk about it with first hand experience I would like to ask?

  4. #4
    I agree with Kovich. I avoid hyphenated domains like the plague. But I disagree on one of his points.

    Both mykeywordphrase.com and my-keyword-phrase.com should be considered EXACT match domains for the search phrase "my keyword phrase". It's very simple for Google to detect both as exact matches. "Remove all spaces from search phrase... remove all hyphens from domain name... compare to domain for exact match." This algorithm will detect both as exact matches. However, this type of check would be very expensive for every page and folder name in the URL.

    And contrary to what the original poster implied or "thinks" he observed, they should both be eligable for the exact match boost and have equal chance of getting to #1 at the same speed.

    Where the difference probably lies is with inbound links that have the site's name as the link text. Another site linking with my-keyword-phrase.com as the search phrase will be interpretted as "my keyword phase com". Another site linking with mykeywordphrase.com as the link text will be interpretted as "mykeywordphrase com". You can see evidence of this in Google's WMT where they they display what link text they see for you inbound links. You can tell they normalize the link text (removing special characters and punctuation" before evaluating the text. Example Web Page as link text shows as "http www example com" in WMT.

    As far as Google prefering hyphens in the URL structure, They are mainly talking about page/folder names and NOT the domain portion of the URLIMO. If you notice the example they used was a page name rather than using a domain name example. Cutts has told me in person at Pubcon that there are no differences with hyphenated and non-hyphenated domains in their ranking algorithm... But in page/folder names there are. And you NEVER want to use underscores as word separators because... well... they are NOT word separators.

    The reason I avoid hyphens in domains is that your domain is the BEST chance you have of someone remembering your site. You want your domain to be as short as possible, easy to remember, and easy to type... Adding hyphens violates all of these goals. Having hyphens even makes the domain harder to say in person. Instead of saying "my keyword phrase dot com" you now have to say "my dash keyword dash phrase dot com"... harder to say AND harder to remember and type.

    No one is going to remember your internal page URLs so it doesn't matter that they have hyphens AND having hyphens for them will make it so that Google can spot the keywords in the folder/page names effortlessly. So I always use hyphens in multi-word page/folder names.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Social-Media View Post
    I agree with Kovich. I avoid hyphenated domains like the plague. But I disagree on one of his points.

    Both mykeywordphrase.com and my-keyword-phrase.com should be considered EXACT match domains for the search phrase "my keyword phrase". It's very simple for Google to detect both as exact matches. "Remove all spaces from search phrase... remove all hyphens from domain name... compare to domain for exact match." This algorithm will detect both as exact matches. However, this type of check would be very expensive for every page and folder name in the URL.

    And contrary to what the original poster implied or "thinks" he observed, they should both be eligable for the exact match boost and have equal chance of getting to #1 at the same speed.

    Where the difference probably lies is with inbound links that have the site's name as the link text. Another site linking with my-keyword-phrase.com as the search phrase will be interpretted as "my keyword phase com". Another site linking with mykeywordphrase.com as the link text will be interpretted as "mykeywordphrase com". You can see evidence of this in Google's WMT where they they display what link text they see for you inbound links. You can tell they normalize the link text (removing special characters and punctuation" before evaluating the text. Example Web Page as link text shows as "http www example com" in WMT.

    As far as Google prefering hyphens in the URL structure, They are mainly talking about page/folder names and NOT the domain portion of the URLIMO. If you notice the example they used was a page name rather than using a domain name example. Cutts has told me in person at Pubcon that there are no differences with hyphenated and non-hyphenated domains in their ranking algorithm... But in page/folder names there are. And you NEVER want to use underscores as word separators because... well... they are NOT word separators.

    The reason I avoid hyphens in domains is that your domain is the BEST chance you have of someone remembering your site. You want your domain to be as short as possible, easy to remember, and easy to type... Adding hyphens violates all of these goals. Having hyphens even makes the domain harder to say in person. Instead of saying "my keyword phrase dot com" you now have to say "my dash keyword dash phrase dot com"... harder to say AND harder to remember and type.

    No one is going to remember your internal page URLs so it doesn't matter that they have hyphens AND having hyphens for them will make it so that Google can spot the keywords in the folder/page names effortlessly. So I always use hyphens in multi-word page/folder names.
    I knew the exact domain thing applied to both but didn't want to mention it Social/Media as it should have been obvious.

    Interesting Matt Cutts told you personally there is no difference LOL (I would be interested in hearing him say that and explaining how it can be so if it applies after the tld/)

    As I said above I have been testing this for some time (over four years) after the tvworlds.com experience and the two year wait for the site to appear on page 1 for "TV Worlds" as a search.

    The sites I have tested since, over the past four years with hyphens all get results quicker than previous non hyphens I have had in the past.

    A couple of things the two of you who have posted thus far have neglected to mention is the stationary, biz card and vehicle factors that I am also taking into account and put some time into studying the pros and cons of each.

    Myself I always use hyphens everywhere now - well unless I had a very short and catchy "brandable" easy to remember two word domain name that is.

    Also as I mentioned above this will come out at about 8 to two in favour of non hyphens. I have tested this a couple out times previously.
    Last edited by MrFlicker; 2 April, 2010 at 23:30 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    In the case of penisland.com or pen-island.com, the prevalence of the anchor text is what determines whether Google reads "penis land" or "pen island".


    In the case of mykeywordphrase.com and my-keyword-phrase.com. Lets say a slammer buys my-key-word-phrase and mykeyword-phrase.com. Do they get the exact match bonus? In my opinion dashes are a spam trigger. Not that the site will trip a spam filter.


    Quote Originally Posted by Social-Media View Post
    Cutts has told me in person at Pubcon that there are no differences with hyphenated and non-hyphenated domains in their ranking algorithm... But in page/folder names there are. And you NEVER want to use underscores as word separators because... well... they are NOT word separators.

    The devil is in the detail. What I mean is that many webmaster believed that there was a "duplicate content penalty" and a "sandbox". We now know that there isn't a "duplicate content penalty" and the "sandbox" was an unintended consequence. What happens is that we hypothesize on our observations. But for the most part, it's not really possible to "prove" or "disprove" the hypothesis. Because, there are too many variables in the algorithm.


    According to Seobook: "Only bonus hyphenated domain will get is keyword in domain bonus, not exact match one.". They apply this reasoning:


    As Google started getting more aggressive at filtering anchor text, they started placing more weight on the domain name if the domain name exactly matched the keyword search query. They had to do this because they were filtering out too many brands for the search query attached to their brand. Some examples of how this works:

    So, as MC said there is "no differences with hyphenated and non-hyphenated domains". But there could be a filter in play as described above.

  7. #7
    Aaron Wall says he is not sure and asks if anyone has tested this here > Exact Match Domains

    Now I have the problem of the increasingly Geo nature of Google showing completely different results for US surfers on Google.com compared to UK surfers of Google.com let alone the major diffeences on Google.co.uk because I have Geo info on my sites where a UK snail mail address and landline tel number is displayed

    This is quite obviously having an effect as my sites are hosted in Utah in the US so the only explanation that seems obvious is the mention of UK Geo details on the sites.

    I notice today merely by mentioing c0mmissionse0.com yesterday here (which is why the 0's now) it has moved up. I doubt they did anything to cause this and if they did it would be a bit of a coincedence, that fair enough could also explain the sudden change on Google.co.uk LOL.

    This tells me that Google noticed the mentions here and reacted, also that quite likely they have it on Google alerts which leads me to suspect something that I am going to investigate at some point RE Google alerts.

    I still say apart from when Geo things on site are involved and so search results differ from place to place that hyphenated domains will still give the exact match thing that will in most cases likely give the page 1 results accordingly.

    Not a great example but (Bear in mind this is on Google.co.uk and I again have the Geo thing going on so result may differ for you) "SEO Lion" has my seo-lion.com site on page 1 with no marketing nor link building and purely down to domain name and the on site text.

    Knowing my luck my Tel number and snail mail address being on the site will make that "seo lion" search term a completely different ball game for non UK searchers LOL???

  8. #8
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    A couple of things the two of you who have posted thus far have neglected to mention is the stationary, biz card and vehicle factors that I am also taking into account and put some time into studying the pros and cons of each.
    On a business card, I would put my blog's url as:
    RunningOnlineBusiness.com -- The capitalization sets out each word for the reader.

    Not only does that get the same readability effect, but I think it's easier to remember than:
    Running-Online-Business.com
    Last edited by Kovich; 4 April, 2010 at 03:13 AM.

  9. #9
    OK lets add a bit of fun to the readabilty element and on the likes of Googlebot seperating words, as well as people to of course.

    What is easier to read and seperate

    expertsexchange.com or experts-exchange.com

    vetskill.com or vet-skill.com

    doctorskill.com or doctor-skill.com

    dickslumber.com or dicks-lumber.com

    penisland.com or pen-island.com

    therapistfinder.com or therapist-finder.com

    mp3shits.com or mp3s-hits.com

    swissexpatriot.com or swiss-expatriot.com

    powergenitalia.com or powergen-italia.com

    Must be funny if you we're English speaking in italy and a powergenitalia van whizzes by LOL

    Many of the above are real domains btw.

    What is easier to read and remember is debatable. I personally think it easier to remember words you can see clearly, especially when it comes to vehicles as thye pass by.

    I think unless a domain is just two words of a brandable name hyphens are better.

    When typing people generally find sites through search engines by typing seperate words and not by typing things like powerrgenitalia in to the browser, so that is a reason the what people would type argument does not wash with me.

    Also once a site has been visited a person doesn't type to find the site generally. Well i don't I type 1 to 2 or 3 letters and click the drop down which is another reason the people type url's without hyphens doesn't sir right with me.

    I said at the beginning this was SEO related, and this is where I find hyphens in my four year study (not full ime |I habe been doing many oyher things but I have tested things over a four year period), my experience has been that I am getting ranked higher quicker with hyphented domains.

    B4 knocking it without having tried it I would suggest anyone who has not had experience with a hyphenated domain name, to give it a try and see what results they get.

    Believe me you won't regret it.

    I started a new experiment with mesothelioma-compensation-lawyer.com about two weeks back. The domain name is a couple of weeks older than that but I got the first few page online a week and ah half two weeks back and the site is by no means complete yet.

    The site appeared yesterdya on page 25 for the search term "mesothelioma compensation lawyer" as well as the same with the words claim in the search query.

    This is on Google.co.uk the results are not quite the same on Google.com. The previous day the site was on page 26 the day b4 that 27 and the day b4 that 30 and previous to that for a couple of days on page 31.

    This experiemnt is to prove to someone on DP I can get this domain to page one on Google in just a few weeks 6 to 8 with no links (unless others link to it) EG no link building other than the one link that appears on DP just using pure on site SEO.

    I challenged the guy to compete using the un hyphenated domains and link building as his strategy to see who faired better, but he declined and said if I can do it he will write and link his sig for me for 2 months with "My name and The Worlds Greatest SEO LOL.

    I have six weeks to prove whether I can do so or not. If anyone fancies competing using the non hyphen name and link building and gets the extra two weeks to my two week head start aded to their time frame let me know as it will be an interesting experiment with nothing to lose given the fact if you adsense the site the key terms associated are the highest paying keywords online.

  10. #10
    I hope this won't be seen as bumping I thought I would show an example of on site SEO out doing an exact match domain name of a non hyphenated domain name.

    Commission SEO

    Position 1 and 2 are my sites commissionseo.com is in 6th position. Which means I have managed to out SEO them and their exact match domain name.

    There may be a factor of Google recocnising "commission" as an alternative to "hire" of course, like it does with automobile and car, but nevertheless an example beating an excat match domain.

    When I get some time I will do the same on G.com to show further exact matches can be beaten.

    Excuse reposting straight after my last one.

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