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Do domain names count in google for placement?
Is word1-word2.net better than no hyphen?
Homersim




msg:45819
 11:56 pm on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hello,
I wanted to know if in google the - matter. (ie: www.word1-word2.net instead of www.word1word2.net

I know in yahoo it used to but I am not sure if it does anymore (they changed to a google style. Can someone tell me if it matters in google or yahoo or else where anymore?

Jeff

[edited by: ciml at 3:45 pm (utc) on Nov. 21, 2002]
[edit reason] No specifics please. [/edit]

 

snoopy




msg:45820
 12:53 am on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

The diplomatic answer is that both can work in Google. Personally I have domains with and w/o the hyphens and both survived the last two indexings and are ranked well. In the categories that my sites compete in I think overall the non-hyphenated sites have done better but many variables come into play such as dmoz listings, linkpop, pr, site design etc. If your content is unique, you're in DMOZ, and you're not partaking in any spamming techniques you should be fine with or without the "-". I'd go with whichever you think is the better name for visibility to your target users.

2_much




msg:45821
 1:19 am on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hey Homersim, I removed your other posts from Yahoo since you'd already gotten a reply here. There's no need to post twice - you will get an answer after only 1 post.

I agree with snoopy. If you're promoting primarily online, I'd go with the dash. If your site is also used for offline advertising, I'd leave out the dash.

Homersim




msg:45822
 9:08 am on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi,
For one domain I want to use I own both dashes and non.

Is there anyway I can submit the dashes one to the search engine but advertise the non dash one and have links going to that one as well. (link popularity) People will be less likely to link to this three letter dashed domain or if i advertise it in magazines.
Jeff

ciml




msg:45823
 3:48 pm on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi Jeff, I'd have the one you intend to advertise issue a 301 status HTTP redirect to the other. As long as the 'main' URL has more/better links to it, it should be the one listed.

Currently, with a 301 redirect I would expect the destination URL to get the PageRank from both sets of backlinks.

MOOSBerlin




msg:45824
 6:47 pm on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi Homersim:
domain names are one of more than 100 factors in the position algo. To optimize this one factor, you do better with hyphen.

WebGuerrilla




msg:45825
 8:23 pm on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)


Forget about the hyphen. If you own both versions of your domain, go with the one without the hyphens.

The idea that a hyphenated domain gives you some kind of huge boost is a myth.

Trix999




msg:45826
 8:57 pm on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

I can't really agree there Webguerilla. Whenever you see spammy results in the op SE positions, they have a hyphenated domain name with exactly the keyphrase and hyphens.

I am pretty darn sure that www.keyword1-keyword2.com will rank better than www.keyword1keyword2.com (if all other variables are the same ofcourse).

WebGuerrilla




msg:45827
 9:35 pm on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

The fact that a site shows up at the top with a hyphenated domain doesn't mean that the domain played any significant part in obtaining that position.

The data simply doesn't support the myth. A very small percentage of URL's that occupy the top 100 for any given phrase contain hyphenated keyword domains. When you compare the number that make it into the top 100 with the total number of URLS using the hyphen strategy, the numbers are even worse. You could even go as far as to draw the conclusion it hurts more than it helps.

xbase234




msg:45828
 9:36 pm on Nov 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hyphen - no hyphen, it does not matter. What ultimately distinguishes the two is how the anchor text appears (anchor= keyword keyword,or keywordkeyword).

Dante_Maure




msg:45829
 12:04 am on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Simple question that should settle this...

If a site is targeting the keyphrase "hyphenated domains" and there are two inbound links without distinctive anchor text, just the actual domain name displayed...

[hyphenateddomainsworld.com...]

and

[hyphenated-domains-world.com...]

Which one is going to help the site's rankings more?

Furthermore, if there is distinct anchor text and two different inbound links...

HyphenatedDomainsWorld.com

vs.

Hyphenated Domains World

Which one is going to be of greater benefit?

In many instances the way a domain name is structured will define how inbound links are structured by those that don't use your own personal suggestions. Also, many webmasters will just hot link the URL itself without any distinct anchor text at all.

So, when we're discussing purely the technical aspects of whether a hyphenated domain is of benefit, it can't hurt, and in many instances can help.

Keep in mind though... this advantage is very small in the overall scheme of thing. There are projects where an un-hyphenated domain is far more beneficial to the long term strategy and branding of a site.

Heck, in many cases a distinctive domain name that doesn't even have a keyword in it is the best approach.

Very few of the world's largest brands are named for their products.

2_much




msg:45830
 12:59 am on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think the hyphenated domain phenomena had a lot to do with the old Yahoo directory, so I think this is less important now.

xbase234




msg:45831
 1:00 am on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just did a search for "aspirin" in Google, no brand names in the Top 5. At least not until you get to bayeraspirin.com at #9 and #10.

The brands that do pop up on the list have "aspirin" in the domain. Having the keyword in your title, header tags, anchor text, etc., is the only way the algorithm will associate the keyword with the brand.

But I also agree - this is only one small factor in the grand scheme.

Dante_Maure




msg:45832
 8:40 am on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Aspirin is a largely offline market, and not one of the major brands is depending on SE traffic for their revenue.

A quick look at some of the more commonly searched online conusumer keywords...

"free email", the number one result is Hotmail. Not one of the top 10 has the entire keyphrase in the domain.

"auctions", the number one result is eBay, and only one of the top 10 has the keyword in the domain.

"books" - Amazon #1, and not one of the top 10 with the keyword in the root domain.

"travel" - #1 is travelocity, the next 9 results do not have the word travel in their root domain.

"used books" Not one top 10 listing with the full keyphrase in root.

"software" 9 out of 10, software is not in the domain.

Sure, there will be exceptions to every rule. I've already made the case for the small advantage of keyworded domains... but, for those that are looking to create a long term brand with staying power in a broad marketplace beyond the SERPs, branding comes before SEO considerations alone.

How many people do you know that are evangelically loyal customers to websites called #1-online-blackjack-casinos.com?
:)

How many people email their friends about such sites?

Each business model calls for a different set of criteria in determining which route to go with the selection of a domain name.

Sure, if your revenue model is built on affiliate revenues generated entirely from SERPs... buy-viagra-at-a-discount.com might serve quite advantageously.

If you're looking to build a business with customer loyalty, brand equity, name recognition, and solvency when the algo flavor of the month has changed... a unique and memorable domain is going to be the clear winner every time.

Now if you can have both... that's always a nice bonus.

A certain webmaster community comes to mind. ;)

(though you'll note Brett opted for the unhyphenated option here too.)

steveb




msg:45833
 2:08 pm on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

"though you'll note Brett opted for the unhyphenated option here too."

And this site doesn't rank in the top twenty on AllTheWeb for a search for: webmaster world

But is #1 for: webmasterworld

Note the #4 result for the first terms is hyphenated.

nell




msg:45834
 2:26 pm on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've tried hyphenated domain names in both no-spam and full-spam modes.
It matters not at all.

WebGuerrilla




msg:45835
 5:53 pm on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

If a site is targeting the keyphrase "hyphenated domains" and there are two inbound links without distinctive anchor text, just the actual domain name displayed...

[hyphenateddomainsworld.com...]

and

[hyphenated-domains-world.com...]

Which one is going to help the site's rankings more?

In theory, the second one would obviously help more, but in reality, the number of sites that actually link to other sites this way is so small that it never becomes a contributing factor.

If you spend some time doing comaprative searches using allinanchor: and allinurl: you'll find that the non-hyphenated domains dominate the results just like they do in a regular search.

If webmasters really linked to sites using raw domain names as anchor text, hypenated domains would dominate an allinanchor search.

But they don't because most webmasters use page titles or company names when they link to other sites.

Dante_Maure




msg:45836
 11:04 pm on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

In theory, the second one would obviously help more, but in reality, the number of sites that actually link to other sites this way is so small that it never becomes a contributing factor.

Never becomes a contributing factor? Come now WG. I have enormous respect for you and your wisdom, but such blanket statements are invariably inaccurate. There will always be exceptions to nearly every rule.

I've already clearly stated my position above, that it is a tiny factor in the big picture, and in many cases can work against a site in the long term.

That being said, I see sites linking in this fashion all the time.

Continuing with webmasterworld as a case in point...

Search on Google for "www.webmasterworld.com".

The very first result beyond Brett's own has two links... the first using "WebmasterWorld" as the anchor text, and the next using "www.webmasterworld.com". Neither of which helps build the importance of the keyword Webmaster through link text.

The next result is a page featuring 9 separate links to this site. Only one of which breaks up the words. Then there are 7 links to individual posts which of course do not have the keyword separation. Finally there is one last link which uses the domain verbatim, http and all.

There are literally thousands of links to posts here, and if the domain name was hyphenated, each and every one would count towards the total anchor text relevance of the ferociously competitive keyword "webmaster". (41 Million results)

As it stands when you do a search for "webmaster" on Google Webmaster.com sits in the #4 position with only 600 backlinks, while WebmasterWorld.com is down at #7 with 4,500 backlinks.

Now, I still don't think that this suggests Brett should have gone with a hyphenated domain. As I've repeatedly stated above, branding can be a far more important consideration, and WebmasterWorld's success is far from being dependent upon SE traffic... but to suggest that a hyphenated domain can never make a significant difference in the SERPs does not reflect the fact that depending on the business model, and niche being targeted, it could make a significant difference indeed.

Dante_Maure




msg:45837
 11:14 pm on Nov 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

And this site doesn't rank in the top twenty on AllTheWeb for a search for: webmaster world

But is #1 for: webmasterworld

Note the #4 result for the first terms is hyphenated.

You've made my case for the fact that in certain instances an unhyphenated domain can adversely affect keyphrase searches... but not that it's necessarily the best choice.

The success of this forum isn't based on generating traffic from the key phrase "Webmaster World". It's based on word of mouth and referral traffic, both instances where a brandable name is of the utmost importance.

xbase234




msg:45838
 12:23 am on Nov 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Dante-

I agree with a lot you have presented, but take issue on a few points.

Whether or not the brand is "offline" or "online" is irrelevant. If a brand has a website, they are technically “online”.

As a rule of thumb, optimizing strictly for the most common keywords, as used in your examples, should be avoided, though there are exceptions. The terms “books”, “free email” and “auctions” are virtually unattainable, requiring resources way beyond the scope of most webmasters and SEOs. Going for the wrong term at the wrong time is a common mistake, perhaps the biggest when planning SEO.

Anyone that thinks they can put ‘medicalbooksforsale’ in a domain and go to the top for “Books” will be very disappointed. But it might help on a search for “medical books” or “books for sale” etc., or other potentially attainable keywords. Ironically, in the examples you gave for “auctions” and “free email”, the brands are searched ten times more often than their respective keywords (see Overture inventory for “ebay” and “hotmail”). The evidence here is that your brand must dwarf your keyword in popularity to rank high.

I think everyone basically agrees that the domain is only a small part of the equation. And we all agree that brands do not appear in generic keyword SERP's in a vacuum. The descriptive text, anchor text, title, header tags, file names, years online, etc, contribute to the formula.

Using a brand-keyword domain can be a competitive advantage. Depending on the industry, it might even be less an advantage, and more of a *requirement* to getting into SERPs.

One of my clients is *the* top player in their industry, but could not be found in the first 100 Google results for their commonly associated industry phrase when I began addressing the problem. If what you mentioned about not having keywords in the domain was absolutely true, then this company would already be #1 for the term. Their web presence dates back years, and they have thousands of inbound links (no keywords in anchor text, however).

I've managed to get the site in the top 20, and I'm still working to get them higher. This ranking would not be a problem if the keyword was in the domain string (ex. brandnamekeyword.com). In fact, their smaller competitors have the industry keyword in their domains, and they rank higher. And this industry term is nowhere near as competitive as ‘books’, “auctions”, etc.

Webmasterworld does get a boost for the keyword “webmaster” because the keyword is in the domain name. If Brett had called this site “Wonder Wizard World” and still made the content about “webmasters”, he would turn up in searches for “wizard” as well as “webmaster”, even though there is no content about wizards.

It's much easier to become #1 for your brand name than for your related keyword. That’s why I go with a keyword in the domain whenever possible, hyphen or not. With respect to the original post, no it does not matter whether or not your keyword domain has hyphens in it.

Dante_Maure




msg:45839
 3:26 am on Nov 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

xbase, we agree on just about every point, though you've misunderstood my points about branding.

I agree wholeheartedly that from a purely SEO position keyworded domains may be advantageous, but the bottom line is this... for many businesses with a long term strategy, branding is far more important than minor SEO concerns, and in such cases, trying to fit their product or service into their name can weaken the brand's effectiveness.

The fact that sites like Amazon and eBay get more searches for their brand than their related keywords is proof positive of the point I am trying to make. This level of brand dominance will rarely happen with a business whose name is watered down by trying to fit the product description into it. The goal of branding is to have the name be synonymous with the product in the minds of the customer. If you look at the world's top 100 brands you'll find that less than 5% describe their business directly. This is not just coincidence, it is calculated, and very very effective.

In fact, many of the world's most established brands that did have their product in their brand name have spent millions in re-establishing themselves as a recognizable brand without it. Kentuckey Fried Chicken... KFC. Coca-Cola... Coke. General Electric... GE. Why? Because anybody can do fried chicken, but nobody else can be KFC. Anybody can do cola, but there can be only one Coke.

And if you think this has nothing to do with online... think again.

Business is business, and more so than ever since the dot-bomb shakeout.

Look at the Media Metrix top 100. What percentage of the sites there have their product or service in their domain names?

Heck, look at the top 10 sites for the phrase "search engine optimization" and tell me how many of them have keyword driven domains.

Obviously when purely considering SEO, having a keyword in the business name is a great asset, but even in it's absense, this can be overcome with effective marketing.

Unless the business model is pure-play SEO... I'll take repeat visitors, word of mouth referrals, and type in traffic over a weak and undistinguished business name any day.

I do apologise for continuing to lead the topic astray, but these are points that I consider far too important to dismiss. If anyone would like to continue discussing the significance of branding in online business separate from the hyphenated domain issue... please start another thread and I'll gladly join in the fray.

Onward...

The only place that we part ways altogether is where we finally get back on topic...

Webmasterworld does get a boost for the keyword “webmaster” because the keyword is in the domain name. If Brett had called this site “Wonder Wizard World” and still made the content about “webmasters”, he would turn up in searches for “wizard” as well as “webmaster”, even though there is no content about wizards.

The question this thread poses is not whether WonderWizardWorld.com is better than WebmasterWorld.com, but how WebmasterWorld.com compares with Webmaster-World.com.

With respect to the original post, no it does not matter whether or not your keyword domain has hyphens in it.

Does it matter enough to have it be the singular factor in choosing your domain? No, and I've covered the many reasons it may be worthwhile to consider otherwise.

Does it matter at all? Of course it does... otherwise WebmasterWorld would more than likely be trumping Webmaster.com in the SERPs for the keyword search "webmaster".

xbase234




msg:45840
 5:41 pm on Nov 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yes, good points. But bear in my mind, Coke and KFC changed brands long after they were established. By originally stating their product in the name, their business was obvious and needed no further explanation. If the Colonel had called it 'KFC' in the beginning, he would have spent more time and money explaining his name than talking about why people should buy his fried chicken.

Coke and KFC spent millions re-branding once they were established, a much easier feat when you have money in the bank. What is more difficult is dumping those millions on the front end to promote a new brand. Ever heard of Flooz? What in the hell was Flooz? But they would not have been better if they were called "online-store-that-sells-everything.com". In the startup phase there should be some common ground between the ideas, *generally speaking*. What goes for the "offline" brands of Coke and KFC goes online as well.

Starting a new brand and correlating a domain strategy is one of the most difficult (and neglected) problems of building a website. It is certainly subjective - there is no one-size-fits-all answer. What is good for a large corporaton is not necessarily good for a mom-n-pop ecommerce venture, and vice-versa.

squared




msg:45841
 7:18 pm on Nov 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Although, what could be done is create a keyword stuffed domain name just for search engine results and then channel those visitors to your branded site.

Just a thought.

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