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the "dash" in keywords (e.g.: key-word)



11:02 pm on Jun 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

What is the story on keywords with a dash separating words? will searches without the dash still bring up my pages? or am I basically losing a lot of traffic having a keyword with a dash, that people search for with a dash sometimes and somethings without the dash.

[edited by: Receptional_Andy at 11:15 pm (utc) on June 23, 2008]
[edit reason] Fixed formatting problem [/edit]

Receptional Andy

11:26 pm on Jun 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

An interesting question. Google seems to treat "hyphenated-words" as pretty much the same as "hyphenated words" - a phrase match.

From an English language point of view, a hyphen can be part of a progression from "word separation" to a more subtle "word-separation" to no "wordseparation" whatsoever.

Search engines increasingly veer towards broad results, and a search engine like Google is able to detect a relationship between separate words, hyphenated words, and concatenated words, and perhaps to account for a subtle type of what it may see as user error.

In the case of hyphen use as it applies to a specific keyphrase, I would try a few searches to see what the impact seemed to be. But remember that you can't please all of the people all of the time ;)


8:20 am on Jun 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

A word of caution about hyphens, use them only when necessary in domain names. Full urls matter less but I recommend against www.this-is-the-topic-my-website-is-about.com especially if you're going to use a non .com address like .info .us etc.


2:38 pm on Jul 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I just did a search test in google:

widgets blue
widgets, blue
widgets - blue

The first three searches give exactly the same results for the top ten (other than AdWords ads) and the last one, that has no space between the dash and the word, gives completely different results. That makes sense to me because a hyphenated word sometimes is considered a single word whereas the other combinations would rarely be considered a single word.

But this brings up other issues. The first three give exactly the same results. Does that imply that google ignores commas and dashes completely while indexing something like page titles? I have looked at previous posts and some people say they ignore punctuation completely, some have said otherwise.

One reason why this matters is for optimizing page titles for specific keywords. Say in my keyword research I found 10x the search volume for the keyword "widgets blue" than "widgets in blue" and much less competition for the first one. It makes sense that that happens - it is fairly common that people type in a few words into search engines that wouldn't make sense in a sentence. But of course people optimize pages with logical sentences.

But of course, I want to optimize for "widgets blue", and preferably in phrase match. So really, I think the question is, does punctuation affect phrase match? Are these page titles the same to google?

For magical widgets blue is best
For magical widgets - blue is best
For magical widgets, blue is best


10:37 am on Sep 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Yahoo tends to frown upon to many hyphens and treat these links like spam. But one or two hyphens is OK.


7:37 pm on Sep 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm creating a new website, and wondering which to go with this.
Which one is better from an SEO perspective?

1. http://www.example.com/hampstercages.html
2. http://www.example.com/hampster-cages.html


7:27 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

josjongejan - "A word of caution about hyphens, use them only when necessary in domain names"

My site has a keyword hyphenated domain name and doesn't do particularly well in Google rankings. May this be because any internal links in the code repeat the hyphenated keyword so Google may regard it as an attempt to spam for that keyword?


12:01 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

1. http://www.example.com/hampstercages.html
2. http://www.example.com/hampster-cages.html

neither ..it's hamster

Just as, to be correct one writes " the hamsters run in their wheel" and not "there wheel".

and also "they'll be there for their food, when they've finished in their wheel" ..

Being found for typo's is good ..only being found for typo's is not so good :)

added..sign artist why not use both in your internal nav and page titles ..more work ..yes ..way better results and traffic yes ;-)

[edited by: Leosghost at 12:05 pm (utc) on Oct. 1, 2008]


6:22 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

oops, two typos!

Leosghost; Use both navigations? Surely you'll get penalised for duplicate content?

Signartist; My best performing website has a hyphen in the domain name, maybe it might performed even better without it, however some MFA got it.

[edited by: Seb7 at 6:26 pm (utc) on Oct. 1, 2008]


6:49 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Leosghost & Seb7 - what I'm getting at is that if you have a site "www.my-keyword.com", there may be "my keyword" appearing in text of the page so many times. But also there will be "www.my-keyword.com" included in the code for all the internal links out from that page.

Therefore "my-keyword" and "my keyword" may be included in the code for that page many, many times. Is this going to appear to as spamming for "my keyword" to a search engine?

[edited by: Signartist at 6:50 pm (utc) on Oct. 1, 2008]


6:34 am on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Are these page titles the same to google?

For magical widgets blue is best
For magical widgets - blue is best
For magical widgets, blue is best

Looking at the search results, they seem to have no effect what so ever on Google. Although the character length is different for each title tag, they still produce the same results even with longer title tags.


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