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Domain Names with Dashes
Domain Names with Dashes
trg9

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 5:22 am on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've heard that google gives preference to domain names with dashes for searches. For example, if you want a high ranking for the search term "plastic widget", you're better off having the url plastic-widget rather than plasticwidget. Does anyone know about this? I guess google doesn't pick words out of other words.

[edited by: Marcia at 8:11 am (utc) on Mar. 7, 2004]
[edit reason] widgetized [/edit]

 

mil2k

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 8:36 am on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Having your keywords in domain name was one of the ways for Google to determine that your site is about that keyword.

However its not necessary for your site to have keywords in the domain name. You also have to look at the marketing aspect of your domain. Not many people are comfortable with typing "-" in domain name. Although you can achieve some of the same benefit by having "-" in file name.

ie. www.brandname.com/plastic-widget.htm

HTH :)

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 4:42 pm on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

>However its not necessary for your site to have keywords in the domain name. You also have to look at the marketing aspect of your domain. Not many people are comfortable with typing "-" in domain name. Although you can achieve some of the same benefit by having "-" in file name.

Register BOTH the hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions, and redirect everything to the non-hyphenated version to the hyphenated version at the server level. For SE reasons, hyphenated domain names are definitely better.

And, having the hyphen in the file name DOESN'T work if most everyone is linking to your home page. The magic of hyphenated domain names with Google is any link that is just in the form of the URL with no anchor text gives you credit for the keywords.

trg9

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 8:49 pm on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

So, for example:

littlewidgets.com
little-widgets.com

Register both of the above, submit the hyphenated version(little-widgets.com) to search engines, and then forward all calls for littlewidgets to the hyphenated version(little-widgets)?

I guess search engines don't like multiple domain submittals for the same website.

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 9:02 pm on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yep trg9. Search engines don't like duplicate content on different domains. Redirects avoid this. NOTE: what you want is people linking to the hyphenated domain. Submitting to search engines is pointless. They find sites from inbound links.

IITian

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 7:34 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

It is my unscientific view that dashes in the domain name are not going to be helpful. Google should easily be able to break up a domain name, especially after examining a few anchor texts to it.

AthlonInside

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 8:12 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google is SMART.

If you have - between words it no longer count as different words.

Try to search for widget wadget and widget-wadget. They show different SERPs.

DaveN

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 10:37 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

try the the-rapist or therapist ;)

hyphen's are needed and google knows this!

DaveN

the_swede

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 11:12 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

What about the use of underscore "_" in URLs.

What does Google prefer?

www.companyname.com/blue_widgest.htm

or

www.companyname.com/bluewidgets.htm

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 11:22 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

My observation is Google needs the hyphens. "The-rapist" and "therapist" already given is a good example about the problem of trying to do parsing. Also:

#1) If it doesn't matter today with Google, are you sure it won't matter next month?

#2) What about other search engines? Google ain't the only fish in the pond. What about Yahoo? What about the promised new MSN SE? What about ask.com, and all the rest? Designing with only one SE in mind tends to be bad strategy.

Macro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 11:22 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

DaveN, well put. There will always be some URLs that could be broken down to two or three different interpretations.

The _ is not something you can use in a domain name. Whether you use the underscore or hypen in a file name doesn't matter but I think hyphens are more convenient, you don't need to hit shift to get a "-"

IITian

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 12:15 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

try the the-rapist or therapist ;)

Do we humans need the dash? We can look at the site, incoming link anchors and listing at other sites to know the right one. Any search engine can follow similar route. Unless the site is about a therapist who is also the-rapist, I think that any search engine can easily understand which one spplies.

Macro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 2:02 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think that any search engine can easily understand which one applies

In many cases yes, but it's not always that the link has anchor text, sometimes destination sites are flash sites which google can't read too well, and sometimes the different meanings may not be as wide apart as "the rapist" and "therapist". The only 100% guaranteed way that a SE can know what a site owner's interpretation of his URL is ...must be by use of the hyphen. And, of course, it's not impossible for a therapist to be the rapist, though why he'd make a website about it beats me ;-)

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 2:17 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

If hyphenated domain names do have any advantage over non-hyphenated names, that advantage is likely to be short-lived. Why? Because the people at Google know that most hyphenated domain names are created for SEO reasons and that the underlying sites are more likely to be sell pages than useful sources of information. (And if there's more than one hyphen, Google can be 99% sure that the domain name was created purely for search engines and not for users.)

If you're creating disposable domains for short-term profits, going the keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.com route may be worthwhile, but such obvious and heavyhanded SEO techniques aren't likely to be effective over the long term.

Macro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 2:23 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

EFV, the problem for Google is that it's 99%. They wouldn't want to have a solution that penalised companies that have a "legitimate" hyphen in their name. With amalgamations and consolidations that happens on a daily basis. Also people with double barrelled surnames who have legal firms won't be too happy ;-)

DaveN

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 2:30 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

for every positive there is a negative!

what can be used for the good can be used for the evil ;).... and i mean everything!

DaveN

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 10:01 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Do we humans need the dash? We can look at the site, incoming link anchors and listing at other sites to know the right one. Any search engine can follow similar route. Unless the site is about a therapist who is also the-rapist, I think that any search engine can easily understand which one spplies.

Doesn't work for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is that with some of the major TLDs such as .com being used by websites in all different languages, assuming that the domain name is based on the English language isn't a safe assumption. There are cases where a domain without hyphens could be parsed one way if the assumption what the domain name was English language based, yet in other languages it could be parsed in a way that would make sense in that foreign language, but not English. It is NOT good for SEs to be guessing.

OrlandoTodd

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 10:27 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Can't remember who said it at the conference, but I heard them say keep it to 2 dashes or less. If you're going for name recognition and branding, the dashes decrease your chances of recall.

I don't feel they have the same effect they used to with search engines pulling the keywords. So I'd go with the no dashes if possible but don't be afraid of a dash if you need it.

BallochBD

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 10:48 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

As has been stated already, there are many reasons other than SEO for using a hyphen in a domain name. One of them being that many people select domain names that look like proper language.

For example many people would prefer widget-services.com to widgetservices.com purely because it looks correct. There is no way that a site should or would be penalised for this.

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 11:28 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

>For example many people would prefer widget-services.com to widgetservices.com purely because it looks correct. There is no way that a site should or would be penalised for this.

Right. To me non-hyphenated domains just don't "look right".

IITian

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 11:43 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Right. To me non-hyphenated domains just don't "look right".

To me, hyphenatd domains just "look spammy." I find that lots of hyphenated domains with even just a single hyphen are waiting for a owner while non-hyphenated ones are not in the market. The problem is similar to somebody owning a very big brandname (single keyword) with TLD ending in dot info or dot ws or something similar. While the owners of these domains are hoping for some miracle, even the SEs don't seem to give these any weight nowadays as it used to give previously.

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 11:49 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

>To me, hyphenatd domains just "look spammy." I find that lots of hyphenated domains with even just a single hyphen are waiting for a owner while non-hyphenated ones are not in the market. The problem is similar to somebody owning a very big brandname (single keyword) with TLD ending in dot info or dot ws or something similar. While the owners of these domains are hoping for some miracle, even the SEs don't seem to give these any weight nowadays as it used to give previously.

The reason why is that you tend to be looking at commercial SERPs. They look right for non-commercial SERPs, which is what most searchers care about. As for commercial SERPs, I don't see hyphenated domain names "spammy" unless it there are lots of hyphens. One or 2 is OK.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 3:04 am on Mar 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

EFV, the problem for Google is that it's 99%. They wouldn't want to have a solution that penalised companies that have a "legitimate" hyphen in their name.

I'm not saying that Google would or should penalize a site just for using a hyphen in its domain name.

I'm merely saying it's unlikely that Google would reward hyphenated domains, for two reasons:

1) The keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.com trick is just too obvious; and...

2) Giving a boost to hyphenated domains would tend to result in lower-quality SERPs.

SevanB2

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 3:22 am on Mar 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have found that Google is actually penalizing sites with 2 or more dashses already. This was specially evidenced in the Florida update. When you added -fgfgfg to the end of search term you could see many of the sites with dashes pop up.

My recommendation is to stay away from dashes completly.

Kirby

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 4:24 am on Mar 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

>(And if there's more than one hyphen, Google can be 99% sure that the domain name was created purely for search engines and not for users.)

Nope. Many people use hypenated domains simply because that was what was available to register. Not everyone with a website is a spammer.

>I have found that Google is actually penalizing sites with 2 or more dashses already. This was specially evidenced in the Florida update. When you added -fgfgfg to the end of search term you could see many of the sites with dashes pop up.

That isnt evidence.

Google is against capital punishment. They dont put to death all suspected spammers for fear of executing those innocent or naive webmasters. They do use the power of suggestion alot, though.

madmatt69

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 5:38 am on Mar 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think it depends on how it's used. If you have "blue-widgets-united-states.com" or something like that, you're likely to raise a flag. It's my understanding that having a "_" in a file name is interpreted as a joiner, so having "blue_widget" is the same as just saying "bluewidget" where as the - breaks the two words up.

Didn't GoogleGuy in a post a while back say that he preferred the "-" himself?

It's been my experience that the "-" definitely helps in the serps for some of my sites. It's not a huge bonus I'm sure, but it's one more extra thing you can do to help get good listings. On sites where it's not appropriate, I use different names and dont worry about the -.

Just my 2 cents.

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22486 posted 10:25 am on Mar 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Nope. Many people use hypenated domains simply because that was what was available to register. Not everyone with a website is a spammer.

Particularly so with amateur sites. The idea of "branding" just isn't desirable with amateur sites. They want a *descriptive* domain name. With domain name speculators grabbing up just about every single keyword (and, often 2 word) domain name you can think of, this means amateur sites often will have multiple hyphens.

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