Are hyphens in domain names a good thing or the work of the devil?


Been reading the FAQ on here as well as some info on other sites about hyphens in domain names. The FAQ states that hyphens are generally a good thing that help search engines separate any key words particularly if the domain can be split in more than one way like I’ve read in some other places that hyphens should be avoided at all costs due to making the domain hard to remember and easy to misspell as well as look unattractive.

Was just wondering if there was a general consensus on using hyphens? Should they be avoided unless dealing with a domain that can be split in more than one way (


You misread the FAQ.

Hyphens are good practice for URLs, not Domains. Domain best practice is no hyphens, URLs are opposite e.g.: = best = ok, but not best = best = ok, but not best

Now, it’s important to state that these are all perfectly fine to use, and the benefits are normally only associated with “usability” rather than SEO performance. Hyphenating domains just confuses people who expect all domains to be con-joined, yet hyphenating words in the URL makes the URL more readable.


Thanks that does help.

But the FAQ does state:

Which is better for domain name and/or url: hyphen (-), underscore(_), or plus sign(+)?

Hyphens and underscores are the best keyword delimiter you can use in your domain name or URL. They are seen as equal by all of the major search engines.

Many say that separators are not necessary as search engines can find keywords in URLs without assistance. They are smart and most likely can pick some keywords out of a URL. But they are not that smart. Sometimes it is not obvious where one keyword ends and another begins. For example: can be seen as “experts exchange” and “expert sex change”. These are obviously two very different topics. In this case a hyphen or underscore would clearly separate the keywords and solve this problem.

Yep - usability over SEO FTW…

Yes, but the question doesn’t imply that having a hyphen in the domain is better than not seperating the words. To me it suggests “ok, you have to seperate your words for whatever reason (maybe the unseperated domain is unavailable), which is best to use as a seperator? hyphen, underscore or (ew) +”

may i repectfully disagree, it is ~not~ best practice

The question on it’s own doesn’t imply this but for me the answer does. The terms domain and URL are used interchangeably throughout that section then…

“Many say that separators are not necessary as search engines can find keywords in URLs without assistance. They are smart and most likely can pick some keywords out of a URL. But they are not that smart. Sometimes it is not obvious where one keyword ends and another begins.”

Then the example given for this is a domain name and the solution given is to use hyphens or underscores.

Hi, what do you mean by that?

what i meant was that leaving hyphens out of domain names is not best practice

Are you saying that it’s better to use hyphens for separation or it doesn’t make any difference?

would you say that it doesn’t make a difference? –>

For SEO or usability?

what’s the difference?

i mean, sure, i know what “SEO” means, and i know what “usability” means, but what’s the difference in the context of hyphenated or run-on words?

If you are looking to create a brand where the user would be typing in your URL to find you I would stay away from hyphens, but if you are creating a site that ppl will mainly find you through a google search, and you are going to register something with good keywords then I would go ahead with the hyphen name.

The other option is if both are available to buy both and point them to the same site.

Just my thoughts.

Yes, and it is perhaps disingenuous to use that particular domain as an example. I have always lived by the rule Keep It Simple Stupid - for most domains (which people have to remember instantly) complicating matters by adding punctuation is counter-productive except in exceptional circumstances…the example given is ‘exceptional circumstances’ to my mind. Urls are a different matter as most users don’t type a full address into a browser address bar - it’s quicker to go to the site homepage and then click on the page required so there is no ‘useability’ detriment to separating the elements of a page title into their components but there is a slight SEO benefit

The majority of domain names formed by concatenating words are not going to give results like Experts Exchange or Powergen Italia - those cases are well known because they are so rare. Usually, whenyou runtwo wordstogether, it’spretty unambiguouswhat thetwo wordsare. (See?)

Search engines can figure it out as well. For example, one of my websites has the domain “getdown”. If I search for “get” or “down” along with key words from the site, Google pops it up at the top of the list, with the relevant part of the domain name in bold. But if I search for “etdo” along with the same key words, I get nothing. Even though neither of the words “get” or “down” are relevant to the content of the website (there is a reason for that), Google has realised that “getdown” is made up of two words and is not interested in any other random selection of consecutive letters.

You may respectfully disagree, but it would be good for the discussion if you could go into a bit more detail - do you think there’s a better practice, or does it make no difference, or are you just being unnecessarily ornery?

Search engines read the words between the hyphens, but for us lowly humans it is hard for us to type them in the browser, plus we are likely to forget to type them. So for usability it is better to not use hyphens.

what makes one character on the keyboard harder to type than another? that doesn’t make ~any~ sense

i don’t actually need to be the fount of all knowledge just to register disagreement, do i

as for ornery, you must be comfusling me with the autistic cuckoo

yes, a better practice is to separate whole words in the domain with hyphens

hyphen or no hyphen… I don’t see the difference. What really makes a site good or bad is how many people really visit, and the only way its going to happen is if you do good marketing!

As far as ‘ease of use’ is concerned … I would have to say that if users really like what they see and want to visit more often, they will bookmark the site! or even better type the url directly - and not to mention that most of the modern browsers today will show frequent visited sites towards the top in URL suggestions…