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Dashes or Hyphens in Domain Names?

Should I Buy a Domain Name with Dashes in It?

.com .biz .netWhen buying domain names that contain keywords, I was wondering if it was better to buy the domain with dashes (hyphens) in it or without. There seem to be some pros and cons to having dashes in a domain name.

Pros:

  • Domains with dashes help separate keywords so that there's no confusion with SEO.
    For example, today I bought the domain name madison-seo.com to help Webstix get more exposure with our SEO services in the Madison, WI area. I like the dash in the domain name because without it, it could mean "Madison's EO" which I don't know what that is but maybe it's something. Maybe "EO" will mean something in the future or maybe it means something already. So the dash separates the keywords: "Madison" and "SEO" which I think is better.
  • Domains with dashes also help separate keywords for people visiting the site.
    This is the same point as above almost except it's for people instead of search engine spiders. Domains with dashes / hyphens in it area easier to read on say, search engine results pages.
  • Domains with dashes are easier to buy and more available.
    There are many domains still open for popular keywords if you use dashes.

Cons:

  • Domains with dashes can be less memorable and can cause confusion or lead people to your competition.
    So I would try to avoid buying a domain with a dash / dashes in it for the main website of a business or organization. People might forget the dash and go to your competition of they own the non-dash version of the domain name - you get less "type-in" traffic if there's a dash. You wouldn't want to advertise a domain with a hyphen in it on the radio since people might type in in wrong. The dash / hyphen key can be hard for people to find.
  • Domains with dashes can kind of look spammy or less reputable.
  • Domains with dashes are less valuable if you want to resell your domain name later.

If you buy a domain with a dash in it, you may want to also purchase the non-dash version or vice versa. It's up to you. Sometimes it's not worth it. It just depends on how you're using the domain name. Single hyphenated / dashed domain names are much better than domain names with multiple dashes / hyphens.

My Opinion...

The dashes are kind of good for SEO since they help to define what keywords you want to use. I'm sure Google spiders are smart enough to figure out which ones keywords you mean based on incoming links and page comments, but why not make it absolutely clear? It can't really hurt. So if your domain name is what I would call a "supporting domain" being used for advertising (think AdSense ads) or to be a relevant website pointing to your main website, then dashes are fine.

But...

Google says that exact match domain names don't rank higher. That's what they say... but they do actually. I've tested it. An exact match domain name is a search phrase that people type in and your domain name just happens to be that exact search. This is what you should do and, with this method, there are no dashes or hyphens.

I've actually changed my mind on this but it was only after some testing. No hyphens is the answer to this question and if you want an advantage, get a good, exact match domain name for your domain name. If you need help choosing a domain name, please contact Webstix.

Any questions? Let us know!

-Tony

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