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  1. #1
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    Dash Separated Domain Names

    Is separating the keywords in domains good or bad or neutral? For example is there any seo or other advantage in going for, say, web-hosting-provider.com instead of webhostingprovider.com?

    To my mind, the dash separated version tells search engines that the url consists of meaningful words whereas the other version is not a word in the dictionary. So it should gain whatever seo benefit url offers.

    On the other hand, if people have to type in the url, the second version is easier. But then, most people land on sites clicking through some links and not by typing in urls.

    Until recently, I was a fan of dash separated urls. However, I find it is not that popular, and wondered whether there is some significance to this lack of popularity.
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  2. #2
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    Most search engines are pretty good at working out whatisawordandwhatisnotaword in non-hyphenated domain names. But of course there are ambiguous situations, most famously with www.expertsexchange.com (now hyphenated)

    Some say that the problem with hyphenated domain names is that users don't remember the hyphens when they want to come back to the site a while later. The main thing to avoid is people going to your "competitor" who has the non-hyphenated version of your domain name.

    So, ideally take both types of domain name if available, and if you can afford it!
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot superjacent's Avatar
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    For multi word domain names I much prefer the words separated by a hyphen, is far easier to read. Will people remember the hyphen, days, weeks later if they haven't bookmarked your site, probably not. Whether it's hyphenated or not I don't think it really matters from a search engine perspective.

  4. #4
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    I don't like dash.
    My suggestion would be ignore the dash..
    max three words, and you'll be fine...

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard SiberForum's Avatar
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    I suppose that in this situation all depend on the length of the domain name. If that is quite short - why not?

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast snowman2004's Avatar
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    There is no advantage in a hyphenated domain.

    To be blunt, if you want repeat traffic avoid hyphenated domains.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast jrai's Avatar
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    I would agree with a lot of this, but there are times when I'll go for a brand-able hyphenated name over a non-brand-able non-hyphenated completely-available domain name. It is good to own both, if you can, and I do look for a good non-hyphenated name to start out with, but brandability is a higher priority to me than avoiding the hyphen.

    I also will "settle" for a hyphenated name if 1) I have my idea set on one or two particular domain name(s), 2) Said names have been snapped up by a domain collector who is asking near 10x what Network Solutions used to charge for names fifty-nine years ago, and 3) The owner of said non-hyphenated name isn't doing anything with their version. I will not shell out cash for a domain before simply retooling my idea, and I also won't go up against said *active* competitor with a hyphen-version of their name. Could probably get sued, in all honesty. My thoughts.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict Green Moon's Avatar
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    I agree that for search engines, the hyphen is generally neutral. It is neither helps nor hinders your search engine placement.

    I also agree that people will forget to type the hyphens, but if your site is one that relies largely on people finding you in a search engine and doesn't expect much returning traffic, a hyphenated URL with good key words is probably better than a non-hyphenated URL with less desirable key words.

  9. #9
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    I would try to avoid using characters outside the A-Z / 0-9 range when choosing a domain name. People really do forget to enter extraneous characters and if a website has the domain you want as a neutral name with no added characters, it is more than likely that people will mistake that domain for yours and you may rank lower down in search engines than the straight forward domain name. Simply put, the object of the game is to try and keep your website URL as short, as simple and as catchy as possible. Having extra letters lengthens the domain name, makes it more complex (in terms of retyping) and therefore I would place a firm vote against it if possible.

  10. #10
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    Visibility about the nature of the site increases with hyphen. Site name becomes more clear in first sight. So i do not mind having dash in domain name. As for as Search engines are concerned, they do not care about that.

  11. #11
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    I definitely do not like the dash especially because unless you own the non dash version and 301 redirect it then you will most likely lose a lot of traffic to repeat visitors when they forget that your site has dashes.

    All major search engines can EASILY parse the keywords in your domain name without needing any dashes.
    Find Keyword Domain Names easily at DomainSuperstar.com

  12. #12
    SitePoint Zealot superjacent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Stavros View Post
    But of course there are ambiguous situations, most famously with www.expertsexchange.com (now hyphenated)
    Quote Originally Posted by joeljonathan View Post
    All major search engines can EASILY parse the keywords in your domain name without needing any dashes.
    Is that true of the example quoted above? The example above, I suppose cops double benefits in that the site may receive millions of visitors looking for sex, which might not be a bad thing after all, traffic is traffic.

  13. #13
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    The mentioned thing with experts exchange was true and an accident, it was not intended to appear as an adult site. The same issue occurred with the website pen island which of course unfortunately ended up as penisland.com (read the URL to see the joke).

  14. #14
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    I have developed many sites using domains with hyphens. They do extremely well in search engines if you have good keyword domains and build lots of backlinks. However you do always run the risk of losing some return visitors to the non hyphen version. Therefore I agree that you should grab both if possible and economically viable. Build on the hyphen domain and redirect the non hyphen domain to your developed hyphen domain.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Enthusiast reviewman's Avatar
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    domain with dash is very bad practice when compared to no dash domain. It looks like a scam in search engine's eyes.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by reviewman View Post
    domain with dash is very bad practice when compared to no dash domain. It looks like a scam in search engine's eyes.
    Your proof/evidence for this claim?

  17. #17
    SitePoint Zealot superjacent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reviewman View Post
    domain with dash is very bad practice when compared to no dash domain. It looks like a scam in search engine's eyes.
    Nonsense

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy linkin99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reviewman View Post
    domain with dash is very bad practice when compared to no dash domain. It looks like a scam in search engine's eyes.
    This is sometimes misunderstood and passed along as any hyphens. The reality is, having a lot of keywords with hyphens separating them look spammy (and usually are regged for spammy purposes) but having simply 1 would not necessarily look bad to the SE's, nor would be banned or red flagged.

    The flip side to this whole debate of using hyphens though, is that in the domaining world, domains without the hyphen(s) are more valuable on the wholesale market, because they are more brandable, less confusing (when using the phone test), and are shorter in length.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Zealot livetech's Avatar
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    The only time I try and use dashes is when there's a two word domain and the last letter of the first word is the same as the first of the second (eg I'd buy reseller-review.com over resellerreview.com any day of the week). However, ideally I'd buy both, as well as resellereview.com to secure the brand

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard frank1's Avatar
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    well...
    having read some seo books and articles...my understanding was...
    they are same....
    and i have seen some examples as well(but may be coincidence and non dash site was not on...means no site in it)

    ..i tried 2-3 dashed domain ...but didnt helped...
    the sites are not even in top 40 in google...

    so,theoritically people will say it is neutral but i suggest test 1 by one and move...

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy linkin99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frank1 View Post
    well...
    having read some seo books and articles...my understanding was...
    they are same....
    and i have seen some examples as well(but may be coincidence and non dash site was not on...means no site in it)

    ..i tried 2-3 dashed domain ...but didnt helped...
    the sites are not even in top 40 in google...

    so,theoritically people will say it is neutral but i suggest test 1 by one and move...
    One has to remember that having a good domain is only 1 factor that affects your rankings. Just having keywords within the domain wont push you to the top (even the top 40). Content and backlinks are more important. (Yes, I'm oversimplifying it here, but you get the idea.)

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard frank1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by linkin99 View Post
    One has to remember that having a good domain is only 1 factor that affects your rankings. Just having keywords within the domain wont push you to the top (even the top 40). Content and backlinks are more important. (Yes, I'm oversimplifying it here, but you get the idea.)
    well mr guru ,
    we agree with with each of ur words.
    content is the king....regular and relevent...
    BUT
    To king to be successful there are lots of ministers who should work well as well....the good work of minister can take country up....

    that is what is very true about domain names...

    people may disagree...
    but we do have around 10 domain names which are representing us in front page of serp in many searches(similar to url term) and driving lots of traffic....

    it is debateable for others...but we are moving with the view that domain names helps....from our experience...

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard SiberForum's Avatar
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    I suppose that having good well optimized content and having good domain names you will be on the top of the world

  24. #24
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    I have a blog with 3 words without the dash. But I am not sure if it is okay or have any problem
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  25. #25
    SitePoint Member jamesplato's Avatar
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    my experience has been that people forget the dash and where they need to put it. why give your comp your traffic?


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