Domain names with a hyphen, good or bad idea?


18

I'm looking for a domain name for my new project and one of the variants is available but has a hyphen between the two words. The non hyphenated variant is registered in the cayman islands.

Are hyphens considered a big no-no when registering a domain name? Is this a good-idea.com ? Should I search for a different name?

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asked Nov 19 '09 at 12:34
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Sam Saffron
432 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Great question -- I'll bet we've all wondered this at one time or another. – Jason 9 years ago
  • People are just going to either use history autocomplete, google through to it, or bookmark it. – Jberger 8 years ago

12 Answers


22

As others have said, domain names without hyphens are preferable to those with.

However, I should add that you better make sure your "one word" name does not have possible bad connotations without the hyphens.

e.g. www.experts-exchange.com would be VERY bad as one word: www.expertsexchange.com because some people would see: "Expert Sex Change".

answered Nov 19 '09 at 14:18
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Lkessler
1,471 points
  • +1 for the brilliant example – Dheer Gupta 9 years ago
  • Keep in mind that this is a cultural thing. I've read that 50% of German (.DE) domains have hyphens. – Jorgem 9 years ago

19

I'm going to go completely against the grain and argue in favor of the hyphen.

Because:

  1. In the world of social media and search, people don't type in your domain name. So it doesn't matter.
  2. Search engines really really really like to see keywords in domain names. It's probably more valuable to rank higher in search results than to eliminate a hyphen.
  3. It's really not that bad to say on the phone. Compared to what, spelling "Xobni?" But they're doing fine (for example).
  4. If people remember your company name they'll find it on Google. So it's better to have a memorable name than eliminate hypens.
answered Nov 21 '09 at 14:17
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Jason
16,231 points
  • Agree completely. Many a stupid or suboptimal domain names have been used just to avoid the danged hyphen. Just market your domain correctly and there will be no problem... Unless you do something dumb and use a hyphenated domain similar to someone else's registered trademark, but that's a topic for another time. – Gabriel Magana 9 years ago
  • you know what Jason, at $10 I think its worth a go, I just went ahead and registered community-tracker.com which will be the parent site spawning off more sites like community.mediabrowser.tv ... its not the ideal name, but I like it much better than coming up with a new business name – Sam Saffron 9 years ago
  • Also, I have read that in Europe, the hyphen is more common: That is, Europeans are more likely to typein the domain with a hyphen, than not. – Jorgem 9 years ago
  • @jm: I don't think we Europeans have much different habits regarding hyphens. :-) One little thing though, Google's keyword detection for English is pretty good, but for names in less common languages it is probably extra important to add the hyphen so that Google will be able to tell the keywords apart. – Jesper Mortensen 9 years ago
  • Nice Answer. Could not agree more. – Tall Jeff 9 years ago
  • @Jason: +1 but why then `wpengine.com` instead of `wordpress-engine.com` or `wp-engine.com`? :-) – Marco Demaio 7 years ago

8

Just to share a story, I used to own the domain name Webmaster-Resources.com .

WINDOWS Magazine, which had 1 million subscribers at the time did a full-page write-up. They left out the hyphen.

Ouch! We changed to SitePoint not long afterwards...

answered Feb 2 '10 at 05:34
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Matt M Ickiewicz
181 points

5

I would avoid a hyphenated domain for these reasons:

  1. It conveys inferiority (especially to the site w/o the hyphen in their domain) in that you accepted a hand me down domain. In addition it confuses users as to if your site is affiliated with the hyphen-less site.
  2. It looks junky and spammy. When I see sites like las-vegas-info-site.com or dot-net-developer-tips.com I think spam site. As a matter of fact the more hyphens in the domain the more it subconsciously conveys "spam" and "avoid site" to the human brain (mine anyways, by an exponential factor).
  3. Many SEO experts (I'm not one) will tell you that hyphens in the domain with devaluate your search ranking.

All that being said I would find an original catchy domain name, then try to register the hyphenated version to avoid competitors/squatters from doing so.

answered Nov 19 '09 at 13:31
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Joe A
1,196 points
  • I (personally) disagree with point 1, but point 2 has a lot of merit for anything over one hyphen. – Jerry Ol 6 years ago

3

I must argue one point of using a domain with a hyphen.

When people type your company name into a search engine, lets say "Experts Exchange" (to use an example from above), they will almost never search for it as expertsexchange unless they have heard of you previously.

However, if someone searches via the keywords "experts exchange", or they separate parts of your company name when they are not supposed to, ex. barndoor vs barn door, it is my understanding that you will receive more hits because people will search for you with separate words rather than just one and this is how Google will read your page.

But, try it out for yourself :)
As with everything else, it's situational.

answered Nov 20 '09 at 00:58
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Nbeecroft
515 points

1

Engines do give value based on wether there are hyphens in the domain-name or not. That's a fact (and okay). But there are certainly limits involved. So I would say if you have one or two dashes it is okay (having 1 certainly is if you are connecting two keywords). Having more than that indeed looks spammy and is not a good practice. Not in the eyes of the engines and not in the eyes of the people seeing the serps.

answered Feb 2 '10 at 20:11
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Jan Mueller
31 points

1

I have registered before a lot of domain names without hyphen. Domains with hyphen are considered lower quality among domainers community but for business it is perfect.

I recently registered some domains with hyphen: When there are no available .com for 2 very good keywords it is better to get the domain with hyphen then .org .net etc.

Also, some 2-3 words domains as previous post mentioned are not easily to parse. I have written some domain name parsers and for most 2-3 words domains there are at least 10 possible ways to split on word parts. The task to disambiguate is not easy for machine (Google do it best). It is more easy for human do disambiguate, but there are a lot of cases that it is difficult, especially when words are longer.

So, domain names with hyphens (when 2 words are longer), is better for business IMO.

answered May 15 '10 at 17:31
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Ross
2,288 points

1

I think you ought to look for a domain name without a hyphen in it. Hyphens are unusual in domain names. People trying to find your site will often type the unhyphenated version by accident.

answered Nov 19 '09 at 12:53
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D Thrasher
894 points

0

The longer and more complicated the domain name, the less likely your customers or the media will be able to type it correctly. This may not matter but probably does.

answered Nov 19 '09 at 13:00
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Oleg Barshay
2,091 points
  • so... Does it matter or not? – Gabriel Magana 9 years ago
  • If your traffic only comes from links, then no. Otherwise, yes. – Oleg Barshay 9 years ago

0

I think your primary domain should be an unhyphenated domain name, and be as short as possible.

While I disagree with @waxingibbous about if you owned goodidea.com, Google is smart enough to see that as two words without the hyphen. Having said that, I do believe you should purchase secondary domains (that can contain hyphens) for SEO purposes. I have purchased several domains with hyphens that point to my primary domain, and it APPEARS to have improved my SEO as a result.

answered Nov 20 '09 at 03:19
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Brian Swanson
341 points

0

Without. You don't want to be saying, "Check us out at 'market-hyphen-sense-dot-com'." It sounds silly and unoriginal.

answered Nov 19 '09 at 13:29
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Josh Sam Bob
1,578 points

0

Going with the hyphen is OK if you own the domain without the hyphen. You want to capture emails and traffic from people who type in the domain without the hyphen. You can almost always get a hyphen added to your domain name, but the reverse is rarely true. For example, on-startups.com is available, and has little risk of being registered.

answered Jan 12 '10 at 22:59
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Brianegge
111 points

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