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Long hypenated domain names
Does Google not like them?
namniboose




msg:142015
 8:31 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've used a 4-word hyphenated domain name for my latest website and it's doing absolutely terribly on Google, despite having a decent # of links pointing at it, reciprocated and unreciprocated.

The serps that I have been looking at have a distinct lack of hyphenated domain names and I am wondering if this is now considered over-optimization by Google? I guess it is often the mark of a 'spammer' or an affiliate!

I have also noticed that keywords in non-hyphenated domain names are highlighted so Google is evidently recognizing them now.

I chose the domain name pre-Florida, thinking that it would help. Have tried to vary the link text a bit.

I could change the domain name at this point (although it would be a bit of work) and I'm wondering if it would be worth it.

Any ideas about this?

 

AthlonInside




msg:142016
 9:40 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

True and False.

I have seen a few of my competitors drop out and yes, they are hypernated (at least 3).

But I have some that is not dropped out.

The point is, your site become 'sneaky' when you have 3 or more hypens and Google will 'suspect'. They will not penalise directly but will have a look at other factors, such as your keyword density and most important how others link to you.

If say you have affordable-hawaii-hotels . org and you have 100+ links. 95% of them have anchor text Affordable Hawaii Hotels, I am sure it will trigger the filter.

walkman




msg:142017
 9:56 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

they might have a limit on them...like penalize those with over 2 - or so.

As a user, I would not click even if it was in the first place. No offense.

Marcia




msg:142018
 10:10 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

Try varying the number of occurrences and percentage of anchor text that's identical before doing anything further, both inbound links and internal links within the site itself. I'd look at that way before number of hyphens in the domain name; and besides, there are too many other factors that could come into play for scoring to assume it's just that one thing.

Namniboose, just out of curiousity, how are you doing with Yahoo for that site?

namniboose




msg:142019
 12:10 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't have any instances of link text that is exactly the same as the domain name (most of the link text is the business title, which includes 3 out of 4 of the keywords).

I have started varying the link text, even though the business/website title is the obvious link text to use.

Marcia: the site is doing better on Yahoo than Google - it does get a few visitors from Yahoo and virtually nothing from Google. The file endings of other pages that link to the home page are varied - is that enough?

Aline

graywolf




msg:142020
 2:23 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I limit myself to 2, anything more just looks "forced" or "spammy" depending on your background.

giggle




msg:142021
 2:55 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

When you mention 4-word hyphenated domain causing concern, are you including the page name?

e.g. www.great-widget-seller.com/red-widgets-explained-here.asp

This URL would contain 5 hyphens.

[This senario resembles one of our sites.]

Patrick Taylor




msg:142022
 3:26 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Whether Google "penalises" or filters pages with long, multi-hyphenated filenames I very much doubt. In terms of SERPS it's more probable they simply don't do much actual good. In the case of a domain name, from a human user point of view this is likely to do much more damage, in the same way that a silly long company name would do.

namniboose




msg:142023
 4:09 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Giggle: I am talking about great-red-widget-seller.com!

Patrick: I actually have a short memorable name pointed at the site that I use for people. This is just for the search engines.

This has worked well for me in the past but I'm sure a lot of people will tell me it's a bad idea!

allanp73




msg:142024
 4:30 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I know why why Google should care if the domain is hyphened or not. I use 3+ hyphens in several of my domains. I did this long before it was considered a benefit for Google. I did this because it made the names readable to the viewers.

I have one domain which plays hommage to a song about a city and I thought the name choice was cute. The site ranks well despite having 5 hyphens in the domain name.

If Google really has a problem then rather then penalizing the name choices for domains it should just remove any benfits keywords in the names would have. Personally I believe this is slightly counter inuitive because obvious the keywords in the name probably signify the content of the would be related to those words.

Patrick Taylor




msg:142025
 5:13 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I would imagine there comes a point where you dilute (less is more, so to speak).

rfgdxm1




msg:142026
 12:25 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I would imagine there comes a point where you dilute (less is more, so to speak).

This may be a factor. Think here of Google not penalizing for a long hypenated domain name, but instead giving bonus algo points for keyword in domain name. Thus, if I have red-widgets.com, and lots of people link to me with "red widgets" in anchor text, then for the exact search "red widgets" my site looks the ideal match. However, if I have best-quality-lowest-cost-most-reliable-red-widgets.com, and most people link with just "red widgets", then my site no longer looks like an ideal match. Its quite obvious from seeing many site logs that people tend to very short search phrases. Thus, while many looking to buy a red widget will type in "red widgets" in the search box, nobody will ever search for "best quality lowest cost most reliable red widgets".

IOW, if playing the keyword in domain name game, keep it short and simple. Leave the marketing hype on the page, rather than stick it in the domain name.

djtaverner




msg:142027
 1:40 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

What are the opinions on penalties for using hyphens in directory structure?

My site is something like this:

www.businessname.com/travel-flights/budget-flights

etc

Extensive use of hyphens for directory structure but domain name.

djtaverner




msg:142028
 1:41 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

sorry for typo end should be:

but not domain name

Patrick Taylor




msg:142029
 2:25 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

www.businessname.com/travel-flights/budget-flights

I can only speak from my own experience. I routinely use folder names and filenames with one, two, and sometimes three hyphens (but NEVER in domain names). Although I can't prove I wouldn't do better without, it certainly doesn't seem to have done any harm. A wooly response, I know, but I can think of no good reason why Google would deliberately "penalise" hyphenated folder and filenames, though there must come a point where the length becomes unwieldy in computing terms.

Actually I believe there is very little that Google consciously penalises as such. There are just some things that work better than others. Also I think it's possible to take certain things too far and to inadvertently trigger off an inexplicable glitch, even making a site or pages drop out very suddenly, but one-two-or-three hyphenated filenames isn't likely to be one of them.

rfgdxm1




msg:142030
 2:50 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I can only speak from my own experience. I routinely use folder names and filenames with one, two, and sometimes three hyphens (but NEVER in domain names).

From an SE algo point of view, it would make some sense to rank lower domain names with a large number of hyphens because this tends to be correlated with spam. From a webmastering perspective, one wants an easy to remember and easy to type in domain name. Thus as a webmaster interested in user convenience, keyword1-keyword2.com makes sense. Very user friendly. However, keyword1-keyword2-keyword3-keyword4-keyword5-keyword6.com is something a webmaster would ONLY do to game search engines. Who the heck wants to remember and type in keyword1-keyword2-keyword3-keyword4-keyword5-keyword6.com to get to a site?

However, as a webmaster I select directory/folder names for *my* convenience. I don't expect the users of my sites to remember the URL of every bloody page on the site. I expect them to type in the domain name in the browser, and let them get to where they want via the site navigation. Thus for me it makes sense to name directories/folders in a way that makes them easy for me to find. Hence domain.com/countries/us/states/michigan/elected-officials/house-of-representatives/districts/ makes sense. As such, I'd think it downright odd if hyphens in directories/folders would be ranked lower in SEs.

IITian




msg:142031
 3:26 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Regarding, hypernated directory and file names, while I believe in keeping names simple and short, after having been overwhelmed by my own files whose names I couldn't decipher, I have been naming some of them after the title of my content eg president-of-company-caught-lying.html . No keyword stuffing, though. Will have to see how SEs react to this.

artdog




msg:142032
 6:00 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

In my super competative area many of the top placements have lots of hyphens with no penalties. I see 9+ hypens and with sub directories and all right at the first page.

ckc1227




msg:142033
 7:46 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

From an SE algo point of view, it would make some sense to rank lower domain names with a large number of hyphens because this tends to be correlated with spam.

Using this logic, since some kids use drugs, then all kids use drugs and should be punished as such.

From a webmastering perspective, one wants an easy to remember and easy to type in domain name. Thus as a webmaster interested in user convenience, keyword1-keyword2.com makes sense. Very user friendly. Who the heck wants to remember and type in keyword1-keyword2-keyword3-keyword4-keyword5-keyword6.com to get to a site

Since most people click on the link instead of actually typing out the domain name, this is virtually a non-issue. Even if one must type the domain name to initially get to the site, smart people bookmark the site so they don't have to keep typing in the name.

However, keyword1-keyword2-keyword3-keyword4-keyword5-keyword6.com is something a webmaster would ONLY do to game search engines.

I guess I need to let my 13 year old niece know she is gaming the search engines, then, even though she has NO CLUE what SEO is.

rfgdxm1




msg:142034
 11:20 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Since most people click on the link instead of actually typing out the domain name, this is virtually a non-issue. Even if one must type the domain name to initially get to the site, smart people bookmark the site so they don't have to keep typing in the name.

How about this scenario. I'm at a bar talking with a friend of mine who is knowledgeable about widgets. I'm interested in buying a widget, and ask him if he would know the best site on the Internet to buy a widget? D'ya think he's more likely to remember the site with 2 keywords in the domain name, or 6 keywords in the domain name? For this reason alone non-spammy webmasters shy away from ridiculously long domain names. Search engines likely also realize this.

This is a variation on Brett's advice about success to think brand.com, rather than keyword domain names. And, if you look at the domain name of this site, even Brett apparently thinks in some cases limited keywords in a domain name are OK. ;)

jimh009




msg:142035
 11:31 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure if Google penalizes for long, hyphernated domain names, but I'm certain they don't for long url names. I've always had very long names for the urls on my site simply because I named them so I would remember what the pages were about (need to do that on a 4000 page static site). Generally, the names are 3 words or so, seperated by either hyphens or underscores. I've never run into any problems with the SE's because of this. Then again, my domain name is only one word and 13 letters long.

Perhaps a combination of hyphenated domain names in conjunction with hyphenated page names is what may trigger a "closer look" by Googles filter?

walkman




msg:142036
 5:51 am on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Patrick: I actually have a short memorable name pointed at the site that I use for people. This is just for the search engines. "

Google penalizes duplicate content and /or doorway pages though. You might've answered your own question

Patrick Taylor




msg:142037
 6:06 am on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Patrick: I actually have a short memorable name pointed at the site that I use for people. This is just for the search engines."

Addressed to me, and not something I said!

namniboose




msg:142038
 6:58 am on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google penalizes duplicate content and /or doorway pages though. You might've answered your own question

There are no links to the other domain name and I have had no problems with this with other sites when I do the redirect at the registrar.

Patrick Taylor




msg:142039
 8:14 am on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

a lot of people will tell me it's a bad idea!

You have 2 domains pointing at the same site, and not 2 sites as such? That's what I understood from what you said. I imagine it IS a bad idea but I can't tell you exactly why (because I don't know). I know of a respected site that does exactly this, and both domains appear to be doing well, nicely alongside each other, high in Google SERPS.

Your original question was whether the hyphenated domain would be the reason for poor SERPS. I believe it's more likely because you're in a very competitive area of the sort which is, by all accounts, full of "ruthless spammers who will stop at nothing to get what they want".

AjiNIMC




msg:142040
 12:30 pm on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

one of my friend also got penalty , his site had four hypens and all of his anchor text were same.

namniboose




msg:142041
 9:11 pm on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

You have 2 domains pointing at the same site, and not 2 sites as such? That's what I understood from what you said. I imagine it IS a bad idea but I can't tell you exactly why (because I don't know). I know of a respected site that does exactly this, and both domains appear to be doing well, nicely alongside each other, high in Google SERPS.

Yes, I have 2 domains pointed at one site. I did have problems with my first website when the redirect was set up at the server - Google picked up the site with no PR and dropped the other one (which had a page 1 position) and I lost all visitors from Google for a month! (used adwords instead which wasn't as good). When I set up the redirect at the registrar instead (as suggested by a WW member) I didn't have that problem.

A lot of people do redwidgets.com and red-widgets.com both pointed at the same website - for obvious reasons - so I don't think this is the problem.

Your original question was whether the hyphenated domain would be the reason for poor SERPS. I believe it's more likely because you're in a very competitive area of the sort which is, by all accounts, full of "ruthless spammers who will stop at nothing to get what they want".

Actually the keywords I am targetting aren't very competitive and aren't spammed-out. That is why I am surprised I haven't made any progress.

I think I need to vary the incoming link text more. Any other ideas would be very welcome!

Pass the Dutchie




msg:142042
 9:10 am on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

does anyone know if it makes a difference in how sites rank:

www.wicked-widgets.com/red/fluffy/round-spotted.htm

or

www.wicked-widgets.com/red/fluffy/round_spotted.htm

underscore or dash?

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