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Use a hyphen in keyword domain name?
member22




msg:3753341
 12:25 pm on Sep 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hello,

I am just wondering if I choose a domain name with a specific keywords in it is it better to have www.mykeyword.com or www.my-keyword.com as far as ranking on google ?

Thanks,

 

pageoneresults




msg:3753361
 1:34 pm on Sep 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

From what I've observed, it doesn't matter anymore. Hyphenated domains are difficult to work with from a multitude of perspectives with the search engines being at the bottom of the list. I'd get both just to keep someone from doing something with one of them. And, I surely wouldn't launch a hyphenated domain these days. Not unless I had all the other variations. Even then, there better be a solid reason as to why the hyphen "needs" to be there. I haven't had one yet and don't expect to have one. :)

daveVk




msg:3753363
 1:39 pm on Sep 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

www.mykeyword.com for example could be interpreted as "mykey word" google mykey.

See this thread [webmasterworld.com...] or use search link above for "hyphenated domain names". I dont think there is a simple answer.

cooldogs




msg:3753365
 1:50 pm on Sep 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Doesn't hurt to "buy" both varieties just to avoid a competitor later trying to cash in on your success.

I watch the top listings carefully and seldom see hyphenated domains in the top ten, but this is not a steadfast rule, because sometimes I do, they just aren't as common. But, even if the search engines don't care now they might later.

Another important point, when individuals are trying to remember a site's name they seldom remember to add those hyphens.

I figure if you can get the name without the hyphens that is always the safest move. Personally, when looking for a new domain name, I search until I find something good without the hyphens.

acemi




msg:3753436
 5:48 pm on Sep 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

there better be a solid reason as to why the hyphen "needs" to be there

I registered and began using a hyphenated domain about 8 months back. The reason: domainname.com and .net were registered. The com has never had any useful content and the net hasn't been updated in years (though belongs to a successful organization). I was able to get domain-name.com/ net/ org/ info and after a couple of weeks had begun outranking the non-hyphenated domains for even "domain name" searches.

The gamble had been to register the package of 4 domains (so cheap nowadays) and get some pages up quickly, or contact the old site owners and persuade them to let their undeveloped domains go.

I believe I made the right choice and have felt no ill effects by having a hyphen - traffic is either SE driven or returning visitors and type-in traffic was never a consideration.

pageoneresults




msg:3753455
 6:18 pm on Sep 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

The reason: domainname.com and .net were registered.

That would be one of the reasons why I wouldn't purchase a hyphenated version without having the non hyphenated version. If said company were to ever focus on the non hyphen version and it is in direct competition with your hyphenated version, things may get challenging. ;)

Quadrille




msg:3753470
 7:05 pm on Sep 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Get both; 301 from one to t'other.

I like hyphenated domains, and I suspect SEs do too. While we can be pretty sure that both forms get parsed, we also know that priority goes to the term searched for.

"Pen Island fine writing instruments" can be pen-island or #*$!land (auto-edited by WebmasterWorld - another potential issue), while Mole Station (it's a town in Australia) can be mole-station or molestation (thanks to Guy Macon for those examples, there are plenty more!).

But the whole thing is over-rated - <TITLE> matters 100x more, and plenty of other factors are also much, much more important.

And I do accept that runningwordstogether is considered cuiler than running-words-together; though I really don't know why.

Small Website Guy




msg:3754433
 1:21 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

As a web surfer, when I see a hyphenated domain, I think "spammy site! Avoid!" I'm sure that the people programming Google are smart enough to figure out the same thing.

Furthermore, Google now definitely reading the individual words in a concatenated multi-word domain name.

pageoneresults




msg:3754444
 1:40 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

But the whole thing is over-rated - <TITLE> matters 100x more, and plenty of other factors are also much, much more important.

I don't think so. There is weight given to keyword domain names, that is proven. If you have a two word primary phrase and also have that same two word domain, you are leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else in that same space. You have all sorts of plus points out of the box.

Ya, <title> matters quite a bit more but not 100x more, not even close although I think you were exaggerating to make a statement. :)

Hyphens are the Kiss of Death in domain names. If you don't have the non-hyphenated version, there will "always" be challenges. First and foremost would be typein mistakes. Most everyone is going to type the non-hyphenated version first. Very few are going to think of adding a hyphen, it is not natural. The same argument applies to .com, .net and .org. If you had to get the .net because someone had the .com, you have minus points out of the box. If you had to get a hyphenated domain because someone had the non-hyphenated version, you have minus points out of the box.

If it becomes an issue as stated above with words being formed by mistake, utilize PascalCasing in your visual promotional efforts. Or, get the hyphenated version in addition to the non-hypenated version and 301 one to the other. That would be the "ONLY" way to promote a hyphenated domain from my perspective. I surely don't want to be competing with the non-hyphenated version that someone else may own. That would be a branding nightmare!

Quadrille




msg:3754484
 2:43 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

>> Very few are going to think of adding a hyphen, it is not natural.

Neither is it natural to type words without a space between!

In most cases, people will type what they remember; mistyping and misremembering are different issues. So folk may add a hyphen where there wasn't one, and miss one where there was; typos do not universally favour runondomains.

It's all about what's 'cuil' - and lest we forget - there was once a time when underscores_were_cuil.

I do agree that the sensible webmaster gets both, but I'd argue that hyphens are now at least acceptable (they probably weren't a couple of years ago), and getting more popular as people realize that domains have some keyword value.

I really do not accept "If you have a two word primary phrase and also have that same two word domain, you are leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else in that same space" - there's no evidence to support that, and a myriad two-word.info domains floundering nowhere to deny it.

pageoneresults




msg:3754504
 3:13 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Neither is it natural to type words without a space between!

Ummm, it is when talking about domain names.

In most cases, people will type what they remember;

Yes they will. Getting them to remember is another story so we are on to the next bit...

Mistyping and misremembering are different issues. So folk may add a hyphen where there wasn't one.

I've never really seen that behavior and I've watched quite a few use the Internet over the years. Heck, I don't even remember the hyphens or the TLD in many instances. I type a domain (without hyphens) along with a .com and I expect to find what I'm looking for.

It's all about what's 'cuil' - and lest we forget - there was once a time when underscores_were_cuil.

Hyphens were never cool in domain names. And, underscores were/are/never not cuil!

I do agree that the sensible webmaster gets both, but I'd argue that hyphens are now at least acceptable (they probably weren't a couple of years ago), and getting more popular as people realize that domains have some keyword value.

While they may be acceptable, they are an absolute nightmare from a promotional standpoint. There are exceptions to this rule and that is typically when words are "naturally" hyphenated in regular use. Outside of that, hyphenated domain names are pretty much useless for many. If you have one now and it is doing what you'd expect it to do, great. I surely wouldn't run out and buy one unless of course you were protecting a brand and realized you forgot to get the hyphenated versions. And the .net, .org and whatever other TLD tickles your fancy.

I kind of class hyphenated domains in the same category as the .info TLD. :)

I really do not accept "If you have a two word primary phrase and also have that same two word domain, you are leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else in that same space" - there's no evidence to support that.

There is plenty of evidence to support that. Maybe we can get someone to put it in writing and show some examples for you? You have a large advantage when working with a domain name that contains the primary phrase(s).

Quadrille




msg:3754516
 3:34 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Ummm, [run ons are] when talking about domain names.

No; 'normal' I can agree with; 'Natural' implies permanence. This is the Internet. Things change.

Hyphens were never cool in domain names.

Doesn't mean they never will be. Cuil is ephemeral.

underscores were/are/never not cuil!

You have a short memory. Go back to 1998-ish. When I was fighting for run-ons while my employer insisted on underscores.

hyphenated domains in the same category as the .info

I used to think so as well; no longer. While .info has sunk even lower, hyphens are on the rise, whatever the consensus of this thread ;)

There is plenty of evidence to support that. Maybe we can get someone to put it in writing and show some examples for you?

That would be very sweet of you ;)

Examples mean little - I've seen successful and unsuccessful 'domain name key worders'; I've seen zero evidence that Google is really so stupid as to give out significant extra ranking for choice of domain name; and be wary of spreading that rumour ... you are promoting the very hyphens you hate so much :) :)

pageoneresults




msg:3754549
 4:04 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've seen zero evidence that Google is really so stupid as to give out significant extra ranking for choice of domain name; and be wary of spreading that rumour.

I never started any such rumour. :)

If you have a two word domain name, and it happens to be your company name, and it also happens to be the primary two word phrase for your product and/or service, I would hold to my claim that you have an advantage out of the box. I won't get into all the finer points of this but I know you know what I'm referring to.

And, if you want to think that hyphenated domains are in vogue, go right ahead. I'm going to guess that you have one or a few of them and are needing some support right now. I can't give it to you. I'm sure there are others though who are in the same boat and they will be chiming in here shortly. I always enjoy seeing the hyphenated-crowd get fired up. :)

Now, what happens if the owner of the non hyphenated version decides to take litigation action against your hyphenated version? Again, most of the hyphens I see are due to the .com being taken. To go out and purchase a hyphenated domain today (without having the non hyphenated version) is akin to buying a .info domain. Most of the hyphenated domains I've seen over the years fit the category I would put them into. And it is not one of quality. ;)

Quadrille




msg:3754614
 4:32 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've already said at least twice that you need both; I'm happy to repeat it.

You mistake my motives; I've two hyphenated domains, neither of which is (or is intended to be) central to my business, and I own the non-hyphenated version of both. I simply speak from what I see around me. But if I need your support, I'll not ask, I promise. :)

And the issue of same name litigation is not an issue; I've never seen anyone suggest using the same name, only hyphenated, just as I've never seen anyone suggest using .net if the .com was taken; that's a paper tiger, as no-one (except a desperate domain reseller) would support those positions.

If you ask a domain seller who monitors their sales, I'll bet they would agree that hyphenated names are increasing. Just as they are much more visible in serps of late. You don't have to like it, but that does not change the facts.

I've also never disputed that having a 'keyword domain name' has some value - but I repeat, I've seen zero evidence that Google is really so stupid as to give out significant extra ranking for choice of domain name - and few of the most ardent Google-bashers think Google is stupid, even if they think Google is evil [yawn]. The benefit exists, but it is a small factor in a list of a couple of hundred.

The fact remains that while Google can (and does) parse runons, they still deliver results for the chosen enquiry; if I search for 'give me strength', then give-me-strength is likely to appear before givemestrength - which I didn't search for (and nor did anybody else!).

Quality SEs seek to emulate human behaviour, and until people search for wordsmergedtogether, the SEs will not give them pride of place. Get over it! ;)

... And I gotta go, so I'll leave the floor for "others in the same boat who will be chiming in here shortly" :)

Quadrille




msg:3754994
 8:51 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

or not, apparently ;)

Simsi




msg:3755097
 10:39 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Neither is it natural to type words without a space between!

I have a 3 keyword domain that gets pretty much all its traffic from people missing the spaces out and you'd be surprised how many people do that. Can't rank as high (it's a .info and in a competitive market) for the words with the spaces so that suits me fine. I avoid hyphens myself unless i really want those keywords and there are no other options, and at max, only one hyphen.

[edited by: Simsi at 10:42 pm (utc) on Sep. 29, 2008]

Quadrille




msg:3755122
 11:07 pm on Sep 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

and at max, only one hyphen

Hah!

Quadrille's Oft-Quoted 14th Law

More than one hyphen is international shorthand for idiot webmaster; More than two hyphens is Galaxy-wide shorthand for "I'd be a spammer if only I knew how"

Who's counting? Not me. But it's the look of the thing; would you really spend money at my-wonderful-domain.info/my-supa-folda/And-anotherfolda/boring-file.com

I coined that a couple of years ago; since then, hyphens have ceased to controversial, and I've personally used two hyphens quite successfully. Ironic or wot?

But the underlying logic has not quite gone away, and I suspect the phobia blinds people to modern SEO realities.

These forums - indeed, most SEO forums - frequently show enquiries about hyhenated domains, and frighteningly often have people moving successful sites for the sake of a hyphenated domain. That is almost invariably (as I've often stated) an unwise move ... but it does illustrate how far things have changed in a couple of years.

DavidKeffen




msg:3755629
 3:02 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think it's all been pretty well covered, but here's my 5 cents worth.

If you are looking for traffic from those who type a domain directly into their browser (this has been important to the affiliate marketeer for some time now) then non-hyphenated domains are the only real deal.

If you are trying to build a brand, then again non-hyphen domains look more mainstream.

As has been said, to work only with a hyphenated domain when the non-hyphenated domains have already been taken is a little risky as a keen spammer might be tempted to swipe your content (for a while at least) using the non-hyphenated domain.

Regarding rank. I've got one or two hyphenated domains that rank above non-hyphenated. It really isn't a problem at the moment.

Personally, I made the mistake a while ago of not mopping up a hyphenated version of one of my more important domains, and am living to regret it as the company who own it are managing to rank well and must be sharing some of my traffic now.

My advice is buy them all. Use the non-hyphenated version. If you can't do this and really have to use a hyphenated domain, well that's O.K. too but watch your back.

BTW Re. Quadrille's Oft-Quoted 14th Law - True with a capital 'T'. :)

Signartist




msg:3755682
 3:52 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just registered with Webmasterworld in order to address this particular question with regards to my own site. Have assumed til reading this post that Google didn't particularly like my hyphenated domain name - looks like I have to come up with another reason!

pageoneresults




msg:3755755
 4:56 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've seen zero evidence that Google is really so stupid as to give out significant extra ranking for choice of domain name; and be wary of spreading that rumour.

Don't want to pull this off topic but Quadrille, I now have proof and can perpetuate this rumor a little if I want. :)

Brand new site. Launched less than a week ago. Domain contains the two primary words. It currently ranks #2 out of 5,000,000+ results. I'd say that there was a little bit of weight given to a domain name that contains the primary words. And, there are only two links to the site right now. :)

I really hope that hyphens do not come in vogue any time soon. I have enough expense dealing with non hyphenated domains. I surely don't to double that expense and have to purchase the hyphenated versions too. ;)

Quadrille




msg:3755805
 5:37 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Brand new site. Launched less than a week ago. Domain contains the two primary words. It currently ranks #2 out of 5,000,000+ results.

I can't say no - on the other hand, 'new site syndrome' (AKA the sandbox), is just conceivable.

I surely don't have to double that expense and have to purchase the hyphenated versions too

You'd be wise to; no-one wants a pawn [sic] site on a me-too domain. Or worse, an MFA site. Or worse still, an able competitor ;)

randle




msg:3755832
 6:24 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Never discuss politics, religion and now…hyphenated domain names at social gatherings where alcohol is being served?

The original poster asked;

I am just wondering if I choose a domain name with a specific keywords in it is it better to have www.mykeyword.com or www.my-keyword.com as far as ranking on google ?

Perhaps. Key word rich domains do not seem (you never really know) to help with Google rankings (sure did in the old days but thats another story). However, you may get some collateral benefit when people, or directories, link to you and make your domain name the anchor text. (which often happens despite your best efforts to get them to create the link with some juicy key word anchor text)

So, if the question is purely Google rankings, then the hyphen is probably not the best way to go given some of these downsides;

If your thinking about building a brand, hyphenated domains are not the way to go.

If you’re going to be chasing repeat visitors, a hyphenated domain is not the way to go.

If someone has trademarked the term in the non-hyphenated domain version, do not bring a law suit on your self by buying and promoting the hyphenated version and infringing on their mark.

However, if you widen the question a bit to; “as far as helping me gain traffic to my site for a generic thing people search for”, and the domain your talking about is a generic “key word” things get a little more complicated. If the question is in this context, “should I choose red-widgets.com or redwidgets there a lot of factors that go into the decision, particularly in regard to what exactly you’re doing with the site. If both domains are available then definitely buy both as it gives you the option of using either or both, and takes that option away from your competition. The question then becomes which one you put more effort into. If the non-hyphenated version is taken, (generally the case) then the question is do you just skip the hyphenated one all together, and go find something else (the avoid hyphen’s at all costs, because I’m above them thinking)

Except in rare circumstances hyphenated domains should be kept to capturing pure search. If your strategy is in fact to build a brand then definitely leave out the hyphen. For example if you were starting a chili dog business, you would want a brand, so go out and get www.hotjoes.tld certainly not www.hot-joes.tld and promote your dogs as “the hottest dogs on the planet”. However, if at that time you noticed that the domain www.chilidogs.tld was taken, (most likely) and www.chili-dogs.tld was available, you would absolutely, positively want to buy that hyphenated domain. In fact, I would argue you will get traffic much faster to www.chili-dogs.tld than you will to www.hotjoes.tld. MSN for example continues to love key word rich, hyphenated domains more than ever. A few good links and that baby will be right at the top in no time (yeah, yeah, it’s MSN but there is traffic to be had there). People search for, and type in the term “Chili Dogs” and you want to be there to catch as much of that traffic as soon as you can so you can move it right onto your branded site.

There are many reasons people put up sites that are not promoting a brand. Many very successful affiliates for example are just looking to capture traffic from searched key words that they can monetize; perhaps through Adsense, or lead generation or selling of products. Most of this is non-returning traffic which takes away the aspect of worrying about the ability to easily remember the domain. In this scenario there’s nothing wrong with a hyphenated domain, and in fact it may be of benefit.

Its all about what your trying to accomplish with the web site, and taking a very wide approach to capturing as much traffic as you can.

[edited by: tedster at 8:59 pm (utc) on Sep. 30, 2008]
[edit reason] switch from .com to .tld - avoiding real domains [/edit]

nickreynolds




msg:3775090
 4:03 pm on Oct 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

My observation from a few, very small scale niche sites I have is that keywords in the domain name can matter. Nearly all the searches I get for these sites use the words in the domain name. I've got one site that I've stopped using where the domain name is the ONLY place that certain words are used and those words get the most visits from people searching on Google .

I'm sure my few little sites may be the exception to the rule, but it's worth noting nonetheless.

farmboy




msg:3781667
 2:31 am on Nov 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

What about file names?

Is www.example.com/greenwidgets.htm better than www.example.com/green-widgets.htm for example ?

Or what about www.example.com/green_widgets.htm ?

FarmBoy

tedster




msg:3781714
 4:08 am on Nov 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

The best is to use dashes in filenames to separate keywords - not underscores and not concatenated words. However, the advantage is quite slim. If you're setting up a new site (or if you can preserve your legacy filenames while moving to dashes for new files) then do that. But the slim advantages would be far outweighed by other problems if you change existing filenames.

This is my experience and also what Matt Cutts said in Aug 2007 on his blog:

...if you’d already made your site with underscores, it probably wasn’t worth trying to migrate all your urls over to dashes. If you’re starting fresh, I’d still pick dashes.

from mattcutts.com/blog [mattcutts.com]


CainIV




msg:3781733
 6:09 am on Nov 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Keep in mind that I originally registered a domain 5 years ago and promoted it, and now it is near the top of its genre.

But the branding ability of the website is VERY hampered by the fact that it uses dashes, and the alternate domain was scooped up by someone else long ago who wants to 'hardball' sale to me.

Although this doesn't address the question, it is very important to think about in addition to SEO if indeed you plan on creating a large, brand website, especially for the purpose of selling as the exit strategy.

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