Domain Name With or Without Hyphens?

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This is also a long disputed discussion in the search marketing community. Technically hyphens are recognized as a separator (or space), so they should be used in instances where search engines may not correctly discriminate your keywords. For example, – is that experts-exchange or expert-sex-change? In all other instances hyphens are unnecessary, as search engines will correctly parse out the keywords. We are finding that keywords in your domain name play a larger role than we expected with Google, especially for low competition keyword phrases. Either way, you should focus on the branding aspect of your name – i.e. stick with one that is short, simple, and easy to remember, as that will pay off most with your visitors in the long run. Remember – cater to your visitor first, not the search engine. Read our article on Keywords in Your Domain Name for details.

Word of Mouth Marketing

There is one undisputed argument for non-hyphenated domains. And that is when you are marketing your domain name by word of mouth. It is much easier to tell someone to go to “we rock your web dot com” than it is to try to get them to remember “we hyphen rock hyphen your hyphen web dot com” Chances are they will forget the hyphens, insert them in the wrong place, or not know what a hyphen is to begin with. To avoid this confusion, it is recommended to either begin with the non-hyphenated domain, or have the hyphenated domain redirect to your non-hyphenated domain. That being said, if you market your non-hyphenated domain and people link to it, your hyphenated domain will lose out on that link juice.

The Myth of “Hyphen Dropoffs”

Many people have reported that they are seeing drop-offs in rankings of their hyphenated domains in Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Upon further inspection, however, the drop-offs are also being realized by hyphenated domains. The bottom line is that Google is constantly updating their search algorithms, so your page rankings will vary day-to-day, and often pages will go up and down in ranking or (worst case) be dropped from the index. But this has nothing to do with hyphens. Just imagine the risk Google, or any search engine for that matter, would run if they penalized hyphenated domain names that ended up being high quality sites. A simple, crude filter such as this has nothing to do with distinguishing quality content – and the complex Google algorithms have been refined to a development point that is far beyond this.

The Myth of “Non-Hyphenated Search Results”

Others argue that most top results reveal non-hyphenated domains and therefore non-hyphenated domains are better. Of course the results are going to reveal more non-hyphenated domains. Why? Because people try and register non-hyphenated domains first, because as mentioned, they are easier to market and brand. So the majority of sites use these – hence the majority of results contain non-hyphenated domains. The simple fact that the SERPs also contain several quality multi-hyphenated domains (domains with multiple hyphens) is evidence that these domains are not being penalized. The bottom line is quality – sites with quality content organized in quality fashion that are marketed well and are linked to by other high quality sites in the same industry should rank well over time, regardless of domain name technicalities.

The Myth of “Non-Hyphenated Popularity”

There are those that believe that people are less likely to click on hyphenated domains because of their association with spammy sites, and because long-lasting traditional domain names tend to be hyphen free. We’re not aware of studies having been conducted on the influence this has on current search patterns (please comment below if you are), but if this is an issue for you we suggest you go with a non-hyphenated domain name if possible.

The Fact of “Hyphenated Spam Domains”

Others will point out that multi-hyphen domains are rapidly disappearing from SERPs. This is no doubt the case – but it’s because spammers tend to use keyword loaded domains separated by hyphens, not because Google is specifically targeting hyphenated domain names.

Hyphens or Underscores?

If you are in a situation where you must use hyphens to differentiate keywords correctly (as in the above example), then it is important that you use hyphens, and not underscores. While Yahoo and MSN may correctly interpret underscores as hyphens, the predominant search engine, Google, does not (ie. it reveals different results for hyphenated and underscore searches, treating the underscore as a character instead of a space).

Wondering Which Domain Name To Get?

First off, we recommend Namecheap for your domain registration needs. They offer solid prices and back it with great customer service and functionality. We are very familiar with their platform so can help out if you run into troubles. I would highly appreciate it if you could use this link when registering your domain name (we receive a small commission) so I can continue providing this free domain consultation service (see comments below – I’m answering several new comments each week, which takes up valuable time and research). Thanks and good luck!

Do you have a short list of domains for yourself or your business and you’re having trouble deciding which to go with? Feel free to ask us in the comments below, we’ll be glad to give our opinion. Important – we ask that you register your domain names (on Namecheap, our registrar of choice) before posting them in the comments, to prevent “domain squatters” reading this from “stealing” your domain names and then trying to sell them back to you for a higher price.

About The Author:

Alex has been involved on the business side of the internet since the early 2000's. He holds both a Management Science degree from the University of California at San Diego as well as a Computer Science degree from NJIT.

We Rock Your Web had its roots back in 2004 as the tech blog for a web design and development company Alex founded that has grown and evolved into the parent company of We Rock Your Web.

While his foundation is rooted in web development, his expertise today lies in content and digital marketing, SEO, organic and paid search, analytics, and publishing. Alex is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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Tobias Claren
Could it also look better with a hyphen?
For example (fictive):
rhoguerilla or rho-guerilla. Or psiexperiment or psi-experiment. Or picake or pi-cake.

And if “.com” is free, do you choose ALWAYS .com?
“.com” originally means “commercial”.
If the content of the website is not commercial, e.g. “.org” better?

Hans-Peter Oswald
General advice: Do not use dashes or numbers in your domain name – it is hard for people to remember, unless it is central to the theme of your site.

If you own a domain without hyphen and which consists of two words, you should register also the domain with hyphen.

Otherwise you will lose traffic, as a part of consumers will type your domain with hyphen into the browser.

Worst case: A competitor has the same domain with hyphen.

Hans-Peter Oswald

Ember Leona
I want to comment on a hyphenated domain… registered 2008. I think that the government hacked this info it says registered since 2008 but why not register the unhyphenated domain not registered until 2013. PS when were people first allowed to register hyphens. Also I paid godaddy for domainbuy and backorder and the registrar changed for from hero something to uniregistry. I was pretty much ripped off by goDaddy and the registrar changed info but I cannot get info at PS I am registrant of and the trademark and the facebook page since 2012.
Manoj Vijayakumar
Just one word answer :

Which domain is good for Seo?

www(DOT)tshirts(DOT)in (or) www(DOT)t-shirts(DOT)in

Which will be ranked more?

We can use that and redirect the other.

Great article and nice to read the comments. Even after reading everything, I am still struggling with the best method for my needs. I own a small local manufacturing company that sells many diverse products and want to branch out and market one specific product online and not market it locally. I did some keyword research and this one product gets huge popularity on Google Adwords (673,000). So rather than try to market this through my existing company name which I only get about (320) and my main products only get a popularity of about 6000. I was hoping to get a domain with the three words that are the name of the product, example: wordwordword(dot)com However, a squatter has the domain and its counterpart word-word-word(dot)com So I did find that word-wordword(dot)com is available which the first word and the hyphen and other two words combined work well together. So I am really leaning toward this option. Otherwise I did find wordwordwordPlus(dot)com that is available. And I don’t mind as I the Plus could also allow me to market some complementary products with this main product. But then this would have a total of 17 characters. However, I did find that the wordwordword(dot)biz and word-word-word(dot)biz is available. My business partner hates the .biz extension, but I am not opposed to it and I have the final say. So my question is, would it be best to buy both the .biz domains and also the word-wordword(dot)com and build the website at the word-wordword(dot)com and redirect the other two domains to the .com domain? Or Skip the .com altogether since it would be easy for someone to omit the hyphen when typing it and mistakenly get to the squatters page. However with the .biz that could happen, since most people are somewhat clueless if it is anything but a .com. Or the alternative, find a domain that is somewhat relevant to the product such as WordShop(dot)com or WordFactory(dot)com or similar and build the site up with hypenated page names such as: WordFactory(dot)com/word-word-word(dot)html I favor the option of using all three keywords as the domain over trying to come up with a site like etc., since the Adwords Popularity are go high. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Hi Alex, I had a question about hyphens but I found the answer here. Thanks. I do have another question that I hope you can help me with. I have a company name and a tagline. In the marketing industry is it ok to use a variance of the tagline for your domain? The company is Transatlantic Collaborations. My tagline is ‘Solutions thru Collaboration’. I own and I have registered a couple of domains for the official company name. Could I use this domain ( or should I go for something closer to the company name ?
Thanks, Mike
Hi Alex,

My domain name is taken by a company in another part of the UK also selling clothing, although aesthetically they are very different. The domain name is company name followed by

I’m considering using just the company name (5 letters) but hyphenated between each letter. (a-a-a-a-a) and maybe just including company name + clothing in the page heading/elsewhere on the landing page. Or just avoiding that altogether and letting the images speak for themselves.

Is this a terrible idea for SEO reasons? I believe that anybody visiting their site would know right away that it was the wrong one.

It’s not trademarked or even a registered company name but they do seem to have been trading since 1998.

I have my heart set on this name. It’s just too perfect.

Many thanks!

Hi Alex, I’ve found your article really useful, so thank you! I’m still in a bit of a quandary though, so I’m hoping you can help.

I’ve recently qualified as a kinesiologist and am looking to set up my own business now which I plan to name after myself (e.g. Firstname Lastname Kinesiology). This is where I’m running into problems with the domain name though!

As far as I can see, there are two potential problems. The first is that I’ll end up with quite a long domain name (23 characters). I’ve considered shortening it to FirstinitialLastinitailKinesiology, but I’ve discovered that there is already another kinesiologist using that as their company name – they’re not very local and are only using it for a Facebook page rather than a website, but I’d rather not go treading on anyone else’s toes or creating potential problems for myself.

The second issue is that my second name ends in ‘s’ which means that when it all runs together in the domain name it can read as ‘skinesiology.’ I’ve considered using a hyphen to try to eliminate this, but the majority, if not all, of my business is likely to come via word of mouth and it sounds from your article as if this might be problematic?

I’d be really grateful to get your view on the above.

Many thanks,

Your thoughts on going with .co instead of .com? I don’t have to use my middle initial if I go with .co.
My own name as a .com domain was taken. I am debating kyle-(lastname).com or kylew(lastname).com With W being my middle initial. Do you have a recommendation?
Hyphens – in a website?
Hi Alex
Your article makes for interesting reading !
I registered as without hyphens is purchased but for sale (price unknown) but i still worry hyphens might not be good for us?
We have built a simple site and hope seo will eventually be the dominating factor,
Most business will come from search and click!
Thinking down the line (Two-Three years) the hyphens won’t matter? or should we be looking at purchasing the domain without hyphens ? also what about multiple domains pointing to one site i.e. ?

Its good people post articles like this as people like me are able to learn and try to understand the complexities of the web. Thank You

Regards Andrew

Quick question. The domain I would like to use Is priced in the thousands. It’s an 8 letter 2 word phrase so I have the option to hyphenate or get the .io version. Which do you recommend?
B. Gabriel
I’m a writer. The domain name I’d like (my own name) is taken, ex: FirstnameLastname dot com That site isn’t a competitor, since it’s a different sort of business. Would it make sense for me to hyphenate then? first name-lastname
Laura allen
I have a non profit organization. I can’t decide on a Domain name. Can you help?
Put all together with no hyphens.

Nice post. Here’s an interesting notion. If companies or people would stop holding domains hostage we probably wouldn’t have this discussion. I don’t know how many times I’ve searched for a domain name and come to find it’s taken but not being used. But I could by it for $2000-4000 dollars. What!!!? To me that’s ludicrous. There should be some oversight on this stuff. So adding in a dash to make use of a domain that is the same makes sense to me.
Funny Guy
Lance, I have the exact same sentiment for your home. You are holding my home hostage by living in it just like they are your domain, and you want to extort some inflated price for the wood, shingles and nails you are living in. But I could buy it for $100,000-$500,000 dollars. There should be some oversight on this stuff.
Yes but the house analogy doesn’t really work seeing as if you own a home, the thought is you live in it. For example, in Vancouver BC, there are absentee buyers from overseas that buy homes and hold them as real estate investments, thus driving up the costs for locals who want to buy homes to live in. If I want a domain that is in use, there is value associated with domain as its in use (ie lived in)… but if someone bought a crap-ton of domains in order to “sit” on them hoping their meager investment pays off someday, there should be some metrics as to what fair market value is or a bidding process to allow all us low income “locals” an opportunity to participate in the domain name game.
You didn’t read or you didn’t understand. He perfectly pointed out the problem that also happen in the real estate business: investors not living in the premises and creating artificially inflated prices. That is nasty, whatever you think of it.
Joe Taylor
Hi Alex. I am looking to buy a domain with the key part being that it is going to sort of act as an A-Z directory.

These are my options and at the time of writing they are all available. Personally I think the first looks the best. Would you please give me your opinion?


If anyone else wants to have their say as well, it would be much appreciated.


Ron Talmor
Hi Alex,
We’re a retail eyewear company going online. We chose the name “” but some people like it and some not. So we decide to go with “” the meaning for the 2 can go few ways:
2 as to – see life – words play.
2 as our main price is 2 for $15.
And 2 as we are 2 partners.

Some say the number will give us problem with Google. Most of our customers will come from Instagram or Facebook page or advertise ads. What do you think about the name? Can it hurt us in the future? Forever21 using numbers as well. Hope to hear from you soon.

I personally prefer SeeofLife ๐Ÿ˜
Hello Alex !
I am trying to decide which name to choose for a business I intend to start up soon. It is a papercraft, mostly animals either placed as a trophy on the wall (deer’s head) or standalone (cat, rabbit etc) I am thinking, or alternatively thanx for any reply
Eric ?
Hi Alex. I have one hyphenated domain name with keywords “travel” and “globe” – travel-globe . net Maybe you say me where hyphenated domains wanted, where I can sell it?
Tom McNally
I have several domains I’d like to use for subdomains for SEO purposes. My business operates in Raleigh-Durham NC. Should I keep the hyphen in Raleigh-Durham in the domain name or not? For example, should I buy raleigh-durhamveterinarian or raleighdurhamveterinarian?
Sarah Pluves
Hi Alex, just came across your article above via Googing about hyphens. I have registered vivaadmin(dot)com and also viva-admin(dot).com. I got the hyphen just to separate the two a’s in the name as I thought it look better. What do you think? Is it necessary for the hyphen? Cheers.
I choose dashed domains, I think it is good for seo.
Or Ellenbogen
Great post!
Helped me get to a decision for my new domain!
Thanks for the great article. I just registered a name with Namecheap with the hyphen because the name I wanted was taken. I used the above link so you guys get the royalties from the sell. Thanks again!
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Glad we could help you Shawn! Hope your site is a success!
Hi Alex, first of all thank you for writing this awesome post. It was a good read! I’m currently developing a website that lays out the proper usage of “a versus an”. I’ve checked around and a lot of domain names are currently taken (e.g., aoran(dot)com, a-or-an(dot)com). I’m currently thinking of isitaoran(dot)com (or aversusan(dot)com – sounds weird., a-versus-an(dot)com, isit-a-or-an(dot)com) do you think any of these options make sense or will cause confusion? Furthermore, do you think any of these option will provide high google search results? Thanks in advance.
Brett Moloney
Hi Alex. I have bought the domains oji-online(dot)com and ojionline(dot)com My business name is Orchid Journal International. From past experience with Facebook groups I run I found people came to use an acronym that could be sounded out like a work, as say Oji. My business partner and I are debating to use a hyphen or not. For me I thought to go with a hyphen and mirror the non-hyphenated name to the hyphenated domain. My vision is that Oji will eventually become part of the brand as much as Orchid Journal International, our website and online magazine. My business partner seems to think that people will forget the hyphen or mess it up if we use one. I think that having they hypen helps the customer remember the business name as they will link Oji with Orchid Journal International. Can you give me your opinion please?
Coenraad Loubser
What about oji dot online?
It seems domains with hyphens are not recommended. What symbols can be included in a domain? Now I have some examples in mind for a business/brand/domain. Would you recommend a combination of numbers and letters? Even numbers only? Or letters only? Would you recommend .net, .biz, .xyz, .co, .io, .online or any other? Or simply .com?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi Will, I would suggest the only symbol you use by hyphens. As for numbers and letters it can depend on your company name. For example B2B(dot)com makes sense to have a 2 in the domain because it’s in the title. I don’t suggest using tons of numbers and typically, it’s best to stick to letters only. As for using .net, .biz, .xyz, etc. I would shoot for .com. People typically associate .com with more reputable sites.

So in general, following these guidelines:
-hyphens should be the only symbol
-only letters unless numbers are in the business name
-go for a .com first, unless it makes more sense for you to have a different one

Well, hyphen is the only symbol allowed.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
That is true as well ๐Ÿ™‚
Gabriela Fellini
Hi Alex. I want to to buy a domain but is not available anymore. So I think is ok but I am not sure about this hyphen. It’s a worldwide web so any advice would be great. Thank you!
Hi Alex,

My company’s name is Biostarch plastics LLP, and we are into manufacturing medical equipments in plastics. is not available.

I’m not sure which domain name I should choose from.

Available options are:



3) (brand name – dispogreen)

Please advise

J Mayo
Hi Alex,

I just came across your site while looking for SEO solutions, I did a travel blog for my client. To my surprise it is not ranking for the term Zim Guide. I’m now confused even thinking that a Zim-Guide dot com could have been better. From your responses i gather that a 2 word domain could still do better without the hyphen. Is that your conclusion..

I’m slowly beginning to think that Google algorithm gives a higher score to clearly descriptive domain names, especially those with hyphens!

I’m about to get into another project and i’m tempted to use a hyphenated 2 word domain name.

If you search for ”pacific coast highway travel” or ”pacific coast highway” you will see in your top results a small site ( with all these key words in the domain(with hyphens) doing better than some powerful non hyphenated domains.

My conclusion(though i’m not very sure) is that we are likely to succeed with hyphens than without them..What are your thoughts on this Alex?

Regards J Mayo

Katherine Robinson
Thanks! This post and your comments have been immensely valuable!
S Lewis
Hey Alex,
The domain name I want is already taken with the domain suffix .com . Should I hyphenate the name since whoever has the domain name is an architectural company and I will be doing apparel. Or should I just go with “.co” or put “The” in front of the name? Help please thanks!
Jeff Stephens
I client that needs a website and his business name is Rick Wilson Plumbing, which is taken so I am thinking of an alternative and that being either or RWilsonPlumbing,com. I feel the hyphenated version is too long, what do you think?
David Wheeler
I’ve built my own website, the address is This name was chosen after considerable keyword research.

I am getting very little (if any) traffic and if I enter “tour
the UK” into Google (without the “ ” and with the spaces) nothing comes up at all. But if I enter “tourtheuk” (without the “ “ and without the spaces) then the site comes up first on page 1. The natural way of searching in Google would be to type in the spaces.

The site is built with WordPress and changing the site ‘title’ between “tourtheuk” and “tour-the-uk” (adding hyphens) in the Settings- General
section of the admin seems to make no difference.

My question is … Have I made a mistake by having the domain name as “tourtheuk” instead of adding hyphens into it as “tour-the-uk”??

I do also own the domains “” and “” and “” but have been very reluctant to change anything because
Google may see a change over as Duplicate Content and zap things.

I would welcome and value your advice.

Kind regards,
David Wheeler

david at tourtheuk dot co dot uk

Michael Moody
Great article Alex! Do you think hyphens are necessary for more effective keyword searches on the other url’s of the site though?

For instance, should I change my website page “michaelmoodyfitness dot com/personalfitnesstrainerchicago/” to “michaelmoodyfitness dot com/personal-fitness-trainer-chicago/”?

Hi Alex, could use an opinion here – I have a lengthy name and I’m a bit lost. seems a bit long in the tooth. I currently have and a couple of others, most variations are available. GryphTL, GryphonTheriault, etc. What do you suggest?
Eco Erin
Thanks for the great article. I would like to use, but it is already taken (It is available for purchase, but it is way out of my price range). I have the option of using or I am leaning towards the hyphen because it seems easier to market and sticks in the customers head. What is your opinion?
Hello Alex!
First of all, thank you so much for this article, it helped a lot.

I’m a photographer and I have a couple of registered domains already as the one I wanted is not available and it’s selling for $3500: deboraribeiro(dot)com. deboraribeiro(dot)net is also taken and .pt doesn’t sound promising knowing that it will only rank in Portugal.

I have:
deboraribeiro(dot)co – I currently use this one and redirect the two below to this domain.

What do you think would be best? .co or hyphen with .com. I think the hyphen would be a little more difficult by word of mouth like you said on the article but then I’m also afraid that .co looks incomplete and people will end up redirecting to another domain ๐Ÿ™ or I’m afraid people would add the “m” to .co on the email address and I would never get the email.

Please help me ๐Ÿ™‚

Athletes Care
Thanks for the wonderful blog. I also have the same questions please suggest me whether to use or Which would be better with hyphen or without hyphen?
Rui Pereira
Hi. I want to register a domain with my own name for some services. I want but it is already taken. I have the option,, or (that is .pt for my country, Portugal). I always prefer the domain .com but can’t find one.
Starting a Blog: is taken (no content currently), so I was considering In your opinion, do you think I will have trouble with this domain name given the hyphens? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Would using a hyphen in “sustainable” as in “sustain-able” for a domain name be confusing? There is more to this, but I’m not saying the rest.
Yiddish Translator
Hi Alex, I couldn’t get the domain I wanted without hyphens, so am stuck with picking between a hyphenated name and a modifier. Which would you think would be better (I bought both already):

Sania zehra
Hi Alex, I was going to buy a domain name, where x is an adjective and y a noun, but only recently someone has bought Do you think it will cause a trademark problem?

eg: vs. … Can sue Or, the vice-versa?

Many thanks in advance for your help!

Hi Alex,

I currently own 3 domains names and deciding which one would be the best in terms of marketing and overall appearance.

out of these 3 which do you reckon would be the best?



Thanks for the article. Although, I’m still a bit confused. I plan on laying a heavy hand on SEO. I just purchased a website and I’m having a hard time coming up with a domain name. I’m a relatively new real estate agent and I own 3 URL’s:

1) buy-sellbaltimore-harfordhomes(dot)com
2) lisanemec(dot)com
3) thedominohomegroup(dot)com

The last one can’t be used because it’s for a team concept once I get there. The first one is so long and it’s hyphenated. I came up with this one way back when I was trying to teach myself SEO, LOL. And the 2nd one was just simply my name, as I was told you should always own your name.

Any suggestions on a domain name for a new general Realtor that’s easy to remember and a bit catchy? I’m also afraid people won’t know how to spell my name in the “my name” domain.

Article was extremely helpful. I am renaming/branding my business and have been hesitant to buy the url because of the double e’s. My company name: Dawn Marie Events url: or I’m concerned that when someone is typing the url they will miss the double e’s. Thoughts?
Interesting post. I’m starting a travel blog called Someday Today. I bought the url but am worried I will be ranked lower because of the hyphen. The actual was a ridiculously high price because of the very common words used so I can’t buy it. The only other option would be, but it sounds kind of silly to me to put the number 2 in there and isn’t the actual blog name. They also have, which I don’t care for either. This is tough. Do you think I’ll be ok with Thanks!!
Hi Alex,

I have a relevant question regarding hyphenated domains and trademarks. If the non-hyphenated domain is trademarked, does it constitute a case of trademark infringement if the hyphenated domain is later registered and developed into a business?

For example, if say (just an example) is trademarked and I get and develop it into a site and business, can the owner of sue me?


Kwesi Banson Jnr
Hi Alex – I am about to register a domain for a company with the name “blanko oil.” I have been fighting with idea of using hyphens, please advise me.
Hi Alex,
I have 2 options for a web-design related site: or
What would be the best choice?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Alex

Great post. I was thinking of renewing a domain name that I had bought recently. This post helped my final decision. The domain was website-design-ottawa(dot)ca, however that may come off as spammy since I already market my professional web design services at techhelp(dot)ca.

What do you think?

Hi Alex,

I want to develop a website. I have an offline brand associated with it. Let’s say, for example, I run a hotel named Residence Hotel and I’m based out of Paris. But, is taken. What should I choose?, or

Should I consider geo-targeted domains in the event that I expand my business somewhere else, let’s say the Arctic? Thanks!

Hi Alex,
I want to buy .com domain to use my affiliate links to get referrals. But sad thing is all short and easily memorable sites are already sold. For example I want to buy topptc(dot)com but the price is too high. So I want to make my own site with hyphen looks like this top-ptc(dot)com Would it effect SEO and decrease traffic to my site? Please advice.
Hi I just started a company caled Cata sailing and now I need to have a domain for it. I can either go with or I’m worried about the impact of hyphen on SEO if I go with, but I’m also having doubts if will confuse people and weaken our brand. Please advise
Nelson Herrero
“The key thing to remember here is keywords in domains aren’t nearly as powerful as they used to be.” I guess that’s true for English speaking domains. But for other languages, I notice this doesn’t really apply. As I’ve seem powerful Spanish keywords in domains get ranked really high.
Ron Miller
Hi Alex, I am attempting to purchase a domain to build an affiliate site for a specific product. I can get a two word exact match .NET domain with a hyphen in between. The competition on this exact word match is High and the avg. monthly search is 135,000. My concern is that I won’t be able to get it to rank on Google’s first page due to the High competition. I do plan to build plenty of good, relative content into the site as well as product listings. Would I be better off purchasing a related two word domain with a much lower avg. monthly search (6,600) with Low competition in order to rank on Google’s first page? Or should I go with a brandable .COM?
Hello Alex, if a domain name has been purchased and placed on auction, but is not in use: is it not appropriate to purchase the hyphenated name if it would be good for traffic?
Hi Guys, I have a problem…… I want to register a domain, i told someone and they registered it and now want more money than i can afford to pay, to release it to me. Could i use the same domain name i wanted but put in Hyphens? I am worried that this works against my rankings etc? any advice greatfully accepted!
Roxana Valdes-Lynch
Simple question. Which one will be best ? or
Sorry it might be off-topic but this reminds me of another important doubt you have already met. Could be an interesting twist not so off topic, and I don’t know if you have already covered:
>> Is it good for SEO to use a parent folder only for having keywords in the URL like (uf) or better a shorter easier to remember that might even well be the main address like (for the domain to forward) , or to put it otherwise, is it worth the keywords put that long way (for worst entrepreneurship is a long word in Portuguese, well in English too…
Diego Weissel Rovira
Hi WeRockYourWeb! great article, it shed some good light on me but I’m still having a hard time deciding the best name for a brand of a series of ecological modular pet bottles I invented called ecoPETs. I want the name ecopet in the domain name but they are all taken, but none for a company in the pet bottles design segment, so it’s still a perfect name for my bottles. I decided to use the name Amigas ecoPET (ecoPET Friends in spanish and portuguese my major market), but the name looks kind of akward (, is it better with a dash ( But that’s not all, it is curiously free another great name but without the ecopet keyword, only eco ( [ecofriends in the feminine gender]). I think is more beautiful and easy to remember, so should I choose it despite the brand name is Amigas ecoPET? Is it a good idea to buy both domain names (or and Thanks in advance for any further illumination.
Yours, professor Greenbrain
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi Diego!
Is the name of your brand ecoPET or Amigas ecoPET?
If it is Amigas ecoPET, I suggest using the domain name (without the hyphen). The brand name will be all over the site so customers will know that amigasecopet (the beginning of the URL) is the name of the brand.
Diego Weissel Rovira
Thank you soo much Kimberly for your prompt help, that’s what I’ll do, that was making sense for me too and I’m glad to confirm my sense was right.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m glad I could help you out Diego! Good luck with your new venture!
I would greatly appreciate your comments and suggestion regards to hyphen within a single word, where without a hyphen is unavailable.

target keyword is islam.

web address is www(dot)is-lam(dot)org

google keyword search shows islam equals is-lam

Alex Schenker
That’s a tough one – in most cases, I would not split a single word into two with a hyphen. I would only use the hyphen two separate two words. The same goes for how Google treats these keywords – in most cases it would recognize two independent words. However, in the case with “Is lam” it appears that Google recognizes it instead as a spelling mistake, and immediately searches for your keyword “Islam.”

From a search perspective, therefore, this approach appears to work fine. However, I would still recommend against using a hyphen to split a keyword because from a users perspective the URL looks confusing, almost like a mistake.

Richard Esq.
I feel comfortable asking this question because I can see that you respond to your comments. I currently have an active long domain name with hyphen.


I have registered SmartFoxSecurity(dot)Com without the hyphen which I think makes more sense – it’s shorter and easier to remember. My website is currently PR3. Point is, I’ve been thinking of changing and moving my contents to the new domain for almost 4 weeks now but haven’t simply because I’m not sure if it’s necessary or if the current hyphenated name is good enough.

Any thought on this?

Alex Schenker
Hi Richard,

Excellent question. I think the answer depends on where the majority of your website traffic is coming from, and how important branding is to you. Some insights:

The recent Google EMD (Exact Match Domain) algorithm update devalued the importance of keywords in the domain name. While they still play a ranking factor, that appears to be diminishing over time.
A non-hyphenated domain name such as SmartFoxSecurity(dot)com is definitely easier to remember and brand than smart-surveillance-tips(dot)com. In addition, the Smart Fox name is rather catchy and more memorable.
If most of your traffic is coming through organic search, the branding of the domain name might not play as important a role as you think (as most of your traffic will be from visitors clicking on a link, in which case the exact keywords in your domain name won’t play as significant a role). However, even those visitors will be impacted in some fashion by the name of your website.
If you make a branding push down the road to e-mail newsletters, printed materials, etc. – the Smart Fox name will become that much more important.
Using 301 redirects and the redirect functionality in Google’s Webmaster tools, you should be able to more or less create a seamless transition to the new URL, retaining the majority of your search traffic and ranking points (we have done this with a couple of our websites with no major problems).

Bottom line – if this were our website we would move to SmartFoxSecurity(dot)com.

Hope this helps! Please let us know what you decide, and keep us posted on how the transition goes should you decide to move.

[Edit]: I see that you made the move already. Congrats! How did it go?

Find A Job
I am using the url Find–A–Job(dot)com to research on double dashes to see if it can get on page one of Google which will take some time. While the site forwards to our main website, I believe dashes with key words should be a part of everyone’s Internet marketing strategy.

Alex Schenker
Interesting approach with the double hyphen. That hadn’t even occurred to us. I can see how that opens you up to a new set of domain name possibilities that otherwise would have been taken. However, I’d like to pass on a couple things from our experience that may prove useful regarding domain names in general.

Don’t worry about the search engines when selecting a domain name, especially given the recent Google Panda updates (keywords in a domain name aren’t as important as they used to be). We always counsel our readers to focus on their users (readers, or visitors to your website). In other words, how easy will it be for people to remember to type in the double hyphen? Given how uncommon this practice is, I think you may have some trouble with word of mouth marketing. Then again, if you get most of your traffic from organic search, it might not be as big of an issue (since users will simply click on links to get to your site, they won’t have to actually type in the double hyphen).

If this is just a test, we’d be interested to see how it works out. Please share your results once you’ve had the site up for a while!

I find that some countries (Germany (.de domains) for example) actually prefer hyphens. I was at a tennis tournament in Hamburg recently and was amazed at how many hyphenated domains were being advertised. They’re definitely easy to read – but the question begs, will users enter the name with the hyphen when they get home to their browser? I’m guessing it depends on the overall Internet habits of the populous. In the case of Germany, probably yes, because they’re used to seeing hyphens. Here in the U.S.? More doubtful…

I own and My site is on without the hyphen. There are currently 8000 searches per month for the keyword “Chicken Paprikash” on Google. I rank on the second page of Yahoo, MSN and Bing for the keyword “chicken paprikash” but I am not to be found on the top 20 pages on Google.

I have only been online for about a month but before I start getting backlinks and get established, should I try putting the site on with the hyphen? Is Google able to tell that the url is two words rather than 1 without the hyphen in the name.


Chef Rick

Alex Schenker
Hi Chef Rick,

I recommend you stick with (un-hyphenated). Google is good at splitting words, and the un-hyphenated version has an advantage when it comes to type-in traffic, word of mouth marketing, etc.

The reason you’re not showing up on the front page of Google is mostly likely due to the fact that it’s much more difficult to rank in Google for certain keyword phrases than it is on Yahoo or Bing. With time, you’ll get up there. Try to focus on creating unique and relevant content for your users. Your time is spent more wisely here than it is worrying about backlinks.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I believe I will keep the un-hyphenated version. I have talked to several people and they all have different opinions. I was counting on my .com name being a searched “keyword” to rank higher in Google.

Thanks again,

Chef Rick

Good thing you did – your site is number 7 on page 1 of Google for “Chicken Paprikash” ๐Ÿ™‚ Remember, content is king.

As an aside, if your website is called Expert’s Exchange and your domain name is, Google and other intelligent search engines will figure out your website has nothing to do with Expert Sex Change. Just do a Google search for “Expert Sex Change” and you’ll see my point. Ultimately the content will determine your page rank, not how you punctuate your domain name.

What do you think of using a non-hyphenated domain name for literature, brand recognition, and memorability with a redirect to the hyphenated version for search?


Alex Schenker
In most cases, I would stick with the non-hyphenated domain name for everything. The search engines are smart enough to discern what your name means, in most cases. The only time I would insert a hyphen is if, as explained in the article, the name could be mistaken for something else (ie. (expert’s exchange) vs (expert sex change)

I’ve seen many articles on how to choose a domain name written but in very few of them (if any) have I see a discussion on the type of traffic that you will be wanting to build your website/blog around. Thanks for the nice post. I enjoyed it completely.

Alex Schenker
Glad you enjoyed it! We’re making regular updates as we learn more and as search engines tweak their algorithms.

Thank you for this page, this page has answered some pressing questions I’ve had and concerns. I feel I will be able to purchase a domain name, and if it’s already taken, I’ll add a hyphen where needed. Thanks again.

“…Not that that matters though, as Google largely ignores the content of your domain name…”

I don’t think that’s true. I registered a domain name, and parked the site with pretty much nothing in the site, and it still shows up high for the keywords in the domain name.

Alex Schenker
You’re absolutely correct. Some studies we’ve done since writing this article show that keywords in the domain name do have a considerable effect. This is probably so that people searching for company names can find what they’re looking for. Competition definitely plays a role (highly competitive keywords are very difficult to rank for, even if you have all the exact keywords in your URL), but for less competitive keyword phrases we notice a boost in rankings when those keyword phrases are present in the domain name.

You should also take into account type-in traffic to your website. This is from visitors typing your domain name directly into their address bar. This is particularly relevant for domain names that are short, simple, and generic (ie. dictionary words), or that have a very high search volume.

[Ed: 2011 update: Google has been adjusting their algorithms to place less emphasis on keywords in domain names.]

Thank you for this article. It is well written and explained well with examples. Please tell us something about the importance (or negative aspects of) country name extensions in domain names; specifically third level domain names, etc. How does this apply in searching, in terms of SEO credit, etc.

Alex Schenker
Country coded domain name extensions (ccTLD‘s = Country-Coded Top Level Domains) really come into play outside of the United States. In the U.S., the .com extension predominates and is preferred over .us. However, elsewhere in the world, usually the country coded extension is preferred, especially for local businesses.

It all depends on your business model. If you are catering to customers worldwide, and are not associating yourself with a specific country, try and get a .com domain. If, on the other hand, you are associating yourself with a particular country or have a large customer base in a particular country, consider registering the country-coded domain extension for that country (ie. for Switzerland). If you do go with the country-coded extension, it’s not a bad idea to get the .com variant as well, if possible, to help protect your brand.

Which is a better domain name for SEO purposes or

Alex Schenker
That’s a good question. That would honestly depend on the specific keywords you’re talking about. For example, I like better than, but better than In general, I would go with the hyphen unless the “e” really makes sense or is semantically part of the keyword phrase (ie. if it is short for “electronic” or a similar keyword).

Hi We Rock Your Web readers and posters far ‘n wide …. I’ve just found this site though a Google search, and as soon as I landed, I suddenly realized that your Google ranking is in the top 10 of about 1,010,000 (without hyphens). You’re really “walking the talk” ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been trying to understand how to get the most out of keyword research. It was getting kinda brain twisting the deeper I got into keyword research. I’ve been getting more confused – somewhere along the lines of “information overload,” if you know what I mean.

This is partly due to the plethora of great tools available for free online. They let us really dig deep, wide, long, and short, for keywords. Enough results to fill a book … However, thank goodness I’ve cracked it.

Well, the first cut is the deepest, so to speak ๐Ÿ˜‰ Check this out – my first attempt to gain a ranking with a dead domain name but with some really good content in house though that has not done me or the site any favors in the SEO rankings since day one? I’ve book marked this great page of info. Thanks We Rock Your Web!

Plus I will spread your link around in my social networks. Thanks for your input and understanding.

Cheers, and all my best to you,

Phillip Skinner

Look up the term latent semantic index and then remember the following:

* 2-3 keywords or phrases max per page to “optimize” for.
* Include them in the H1, Title, Description, Keywords and first sentence of the content.
* Include the latent semantic keywords (the words that normally appear on a page that has a specific keyword already).
* Break your PPC (pay per click) keywords up along the same lines as your narrowly targeted content.

Hi, Without a doubt people who use hyphens in their domain name will not rank as high as people with domain names without hyphens. Just test it yourself. Go to Google and search for a keyword.

When you see the results you will see websites without hyphens in the first results. There are so many white hat techniques you can use to rank on the first page of Google. It is even possible to rank in Google In 60 Seconds.



Alex Schenker
The fact that there are more search results pages of domain names without hyphens merely suggests that there’s more domain names without hyphens out there. Google’s series of algorithm updates over the years suggest that they are neutral about the presence of hyphens.

This makes sense considering the saturation of the domain name market. Just because a company is unable to obtain an unhyphenated domain name, doesn’t mean they should be subject to punishment by the search engines.

There are plenty of other factors that determine how sites are ranked. Don’t spend your time worrying about whether or not your domain name has hyphens for ranking purposes. More important is whether people will remember to insert the hyphen when they type your website name into their address bar.

a web rocker
I do not agree with those stating that having hyphen do not give good ranking. A good example is searching at with the keyword: location de voiture ile maurice”. The result is which is in the second position.

Like this article suggests, the only time a hyphen makes a significant difference is in word of mouth marketing. Take a look at your web analytics (ie. Google Analytics): if you’re getting the majority of your traffic (90%+) from search engines, then it doesn’t matter how long or convoluted your domain name is – most of your traffic is from clicks.

That being said, a hyphen will always be more difficult to convey and remember. Imagine being at a cocktail party and telling your friends and coworkers about your latest website venture: “yeah, check it out at bla bla hyphen bla hyphen dot com.” Chances are, even if they remember the name, they won’t use the hyphen.

With the few good options still left in the unhyphenated domain, I’m amazed that this is still even an issue.

I would have to agree. It makes no sense to me that a domain name would be penalized for any reason, other than maybe containing adult keywords (in which case it will probably simply be re-categorized, not penalized – ie. it will be more difficult to place in non-adult search results).

The fact is, the domain name market is like a hugely over-bloated and saturated real estate market right now. Domain names are slim pickin’s, so I would think search engines would concentrate more on website content and less on domain name keywords.

I don’t think that hyphens have anything to do with the strength of a sites’ visibility on the web. The key issue to consider, in my humble opinion, is in the “talk-ability” of the site when introducing others to it or telling them verbally.

When I first started my business, somebody already had my business name in a URL so I used a hyphen. This became a big problem in telling others about my web address. I eventually dropped the hyphen on my Clearwater Real Estate site and went to a dot net address ( as opposed to the former hyphenated version.

I am happy that I did!

Alex Schenker
You bring up a really good point, thanks for sharing your insights. We’re glad you ended up with a domain name that you’re able to market more readily.

As you mention, a key factor that should be considered, especially if you don’t plan on getting the majority of your traffic from search engines, is how easy it will be to market your domain name verbally. Tell a friend, over the phone, the domain name of your website, and without asking them to specifically do so, see if they remember it the next day.

While a .com is easier to remember than a .net (most people default to trying .com), in certain cases it may be that a hyphenated .com domain name, as you point out, is even more difficult to remember than a .net domain. The best way to test this theory is to try it out on a small group of people and see if there’s an obvious difference.

So let’s say you bought both hyphen and non-hyphened domain names. Does pointing the hyphened domain to the non-hyphened domain help your SEO or vise versa?

Also, how would you point to lets say, a forum folder on the site…i.e. if your home page was the domain with the dashes? i.e: ?

Alex Schenker
Redirecting the unhyphenated version ( to the hyphenated version ( may have some potential traffic benefit if your unhyphenated domain receives what’s called type-in traffic (traffic from users that type directly into their browser’s address bar). Typically you will only receive type-in traffic for very common English words (for example,

Typically there’s not much benefit to redirecting the hyphenated version ( to the unhyphenated version (, unless you’ve used the unhyphenated version in marketing materials, or anywhere that might actually cause a user to type the name in. In other words, if no one visits the hyphenated version (, there won’t be any traffic using your redirect.

As for how to do the redirect, we recommend you read our article on search engine friendly domain name redirects.

a web rocker
Thanks for the article. Do you think the hyphen matters if the hyphen would normally be used in English? For example: Do you think it would still be better to use if it is available? Thanks.

Alex Schenker
Great question. Normally you want to use a hyphen if it helps make the combination of words more legible or is commonly used that way in the English language. However, in your case, I can imagine people simply typing in “ex husband” without the hyphen. The general rule in the domain world is that if you can get both the hyphenated and unhyphenated version, by all means do. Decide which you would rather use, and then redirect the other. That way, no matter what people type in, they end up on your website.

Let us know what you decide to go with!

Keyword Software
I didn’t know that Google does not recognize underscores to be a hyphen. Thanks for telling me that. I should avoid underscores then. Better safe than sorry.


I like the fact comments are actually replied to so I’m hoping you can help with this one. I have recently launched an online gift store I also purchased another domain As I wanted the focus to be on the words “just because” I thought the hyphen would help. I’m in the process of doing some marketing campaigns and finding it difficult to include the “-” in the VoiceOver when mentioning the website. Do you have any suggestions?

I then thought I might re-direct justbecausegifts to the just-because site and use the non hyphenated weblink on the marketing materials. OR is it better to just re-launch as justbecausegifts and redirect the just-because to this URL?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Kimberly Alt
Hi Theresa, I suggest dropping the hyphen. When I think back to the sites I visit most often, there aren’t hyphens in them. That is until I click to a direct page. For example, our domain is, not we-rock-your-web(dot)com. When you go to this article the URL is The hyphens help make it more direct for the search engine.

If you’re thinking about redirecting one site to the other, I would redirect just-because to justbecausegifts. For your marketing materials, I suggest using the actual URL you want people to use. When I see justbecausegifts I can distinguish the words easily and I know that your site is probably filled with gifts that people can give to others for no specific reason. Just because they want to do something nice.

Also, from a user perspective, it is much easier to type in than That hyphen can slow typing down (which can get irritating) and I might forget that there is a hyphen. I could accidentally go to justbecause(dot)com(dot)au.

Hope this helps Theresa, and if you have any more questions please let me know.


Thank you for sharing information. Hyphens make it hard to give your domain name verbally and falls down on being easy to remember or type. The use of hyphens can make the domain name look more spammy, so from a branding point of view, the domain name without the hyphens is a lot stronger. For getting a good domain name in terms of accessibility you need to follow some factors given below

Domain name must be short.’
Try to avoid too many ‘_’ symbol in your domain name.
Get the domain name that related to your business or product or organization.
If you want to get the domain extension .com and that is not available, try to register the new domain with the other extension like .org, .info, .edu, etc.

The Duke
Hi All,

This comment will probably bring a smile to your face. I am a novice and Domaining, but enjoy keyword research.

On a recent look at Google keywords I noticed the vast number of people that type the word Torrent into Google a month, 220 Million Global searches a month.

Then I noticed that the domain sold for $126k.

So I typed t-o-r-r-e-n-t into Google Keywords and low and behold,

Torrent and T-o-r-r-e-n-t have the exact same search results, Now I know no one will ever type that domain, but I think a % of people will click it. And as it will rank as well as For this reason I thought it was worth a bet so I bought it.

Once you stop laughing, what are your thoughts?

I haven’t stopped laughing yet.

I found your article while trying to research my problem. I was searching for a free hosting site, and I thought I’d found one that was going to be workable. The site listed several domain choices I could use for free, and the one I chose was their as with my intention being to create a resume site and a blogging site. I did get the basics for my site setup, and I then added a Facebook “like” button. That’s when things went wrong. In testing the Like button, on the Facebook page I’m using for my testing, the very first attempt changed the button to the word ‘Error’ in red, and I could make out a much longer message while I hovered over it. Something about how this URL has been blocked for excessive spamming. I’ve sent a message to facebook, but I’m not holding my breath on their responsiveness. I have googled for issues surrounding the Like button, and I’ve found several hits from 3 years ago to 3 days ago with various nonfunctional Like buttons. I’ve also tried out a few Like buttons that did work. My question at this point is: Does the Like button have a problem with spamming and has blocked the domain, or is this a problem with hyphens in the URL?

Bender Rodriguez
Have an opinion on hyphens, sure. But why oh why does the argument, “Oh, it’s too hard to say WORD HYPHEN WORD…” always come up? Who actually *says* the word hyphen? It’s dash!

“Go to WORD DASH WORD…” Easy peasy, no? Not as complicated as the argument saying hyphen.

Seriously… who SAYS hyphen?! sheesh! lol

The other truth is that most end users typically just click on one of the web sites from the very first research benefits.


I am not sure this is the right place to ask this question, I am new to this site and was impressed with the answers you provided to the questions about the hyphens in domain names. So hopefully I can ask my question here. I had purchased 2 domain names months ago, for two websites I am building, I was told then that the Google’ spider cannot distinguish two words so I had to put a hyphen between them.

One domain was Hypnosis-Portland, the other was Psychics-Portland. For me it is important that the city name is included to be found locally. Then after doing more research on the web and reading yours and some other websites, I tried to find some names with no hyphens, however it was not easy to find some that made sense, so I bought those that were available but I am confused now, which to use, as they make sense but those that are good, also have 3 words rather than two and I wonder if Google spider will find it confusing, and too long? I really need to count on the domain name to try to be on top rather than the bottom, would you please help? Which would you choose?

Here are the ones I bought now:

* (too long but logical)


* (too long but has city name??)

I would like to target the local market too, so the long ones would be ideal if they were no that long. Your website URL has 3 words, but they are short so they sound good!! Which of these above do you think I should choose for the Hypnosis site and for the Intuitive Psychic site? Thank you so much, for your help, if you like you can post this question in the right place, if it may help others.


Alex Schenker
Hi Lena,

Thanks so much for your question! I’m going to try to answer the various parts of your question as best I can. Please let me know if I leave anything out:

Google not being able to distinguish words is false. They are very good at distinguishing words, usually no hyphens are necessary for this purpose.
Don’t worry about the Google spider so much – think about your users (potential website visitors). If the name looks good to you, and is easy to remember, Google will like it as well.
Don’t worry about length – as long as the name is easy to remember, it doesn’t matter how long it is.
Local market – if targeting your local market is a primary concern, it probably will help to have the city or state name in the URL. But keep in mind that if you ever move, you’ll need to make adjustments (ie. pick a new domain name and transfer your content).
From your first selection, independent of local market, I like the best. That’s a great name, short, easy to remember, and very catchy. is good for the local angle, assuming you have multiple psychics working at your business. It also sounds a bit like a review site of the “best Oregon psychics.”
From your second selection, independent of local market I like I could see this name being a good “branding” companion of, as they use a similar, fun play on words. However, again, if the local market is more important to you, is probably your best bet.

At the end of the day, it sounds like the decision will come down to whether or not you want to focus on the local market with your domain name. Keep in mind that you can still be successful and cater to the local market with the “non-local” domain names. In the long run, your website content will play a more important role than the keywords in your domain name. So as a rule of thumb, think long term, and think of your visitors before the search engines. Search engines change their algorithms and they way they treat keywords all the time, so trying to optimize for them is a less valuable investment of your time than focusing on your user base and their needs.



This is a question I have wondered about myself. I am creating a new website now (my 2nd) and the domain name I want to use has 3 words. Should I use hyphens in between?

Also when I post articles using WordPress, it automatically puts hyphens in the titles (permalinks). Should I take these hyphens out or leave it alone? Thanks, Joe

Alex Schenker
Hi Joe,

Excellent questions. As far as your domain name goes, see our response below (we recommend only using hyphens if the un-hyphenated version of your domain name is taken, or if the hyphens are needed to make grammatical sense of the name). As far as pages, it’s fine to use hyphens in the titles. You’ll notice that our website does this, we feel it makes the page URL’s easier to read.

a web rocker

What if I am considering triple hyphen?:

example: “”

Or “”?

Which is better?

Alex Schenker
For your particular example, I would definitely recommend not using any of the hyphens. As a rule of thumb, we would only use a hyphen if:

The un-hyphenated version of the domain name is unavailable.
Inserting hyphens is necessary to separate meaningful words (ie. see the experts-exchange example in the article).

The author of this article also lists out the basic arguments for several of the more popular lines of thought, both in favor of and against using hyphenated domain names. I am very glad to report that the author comes to the correct conclusion by stating that all of these arguments, both pro and con are not worth their salt.

What every argument for one factor being overly important in terms of your Google ranking fails to take into consideration is that there is a whole ranking formula behind the search engines. To take a single factor in isolation is a huge mistake and it proves nothing. OK, so a number of spammy sites used hyphens in their domain and now they have disappeared from the search engine rankings. That settles it, hyphens in your domain are the kiss of death. Do not do this! Sorry, but again, this is an over simplification. The reason a spam site disappeared from the search engine rankings might have been that the site itself concentrated on spam. Maybe the site just stinks? Yes, that is a technical term. Stinks is when Google identifies a site as not worth of the digital space it occupies in cyberspace and should be immediately delisted.

The arguments for how to get your sites to rank on Google still has not changed. It is not about whether or not you should or should not use hyphens in your domain. It is not about whether you should use link cloaking or some other black hat type of trick. The game still has not changed. It is just that now Google is becoming better and better at identifying those web masters who are attempting to game the system. Let me be the first to tell you the truth. Google does not like it when people game the system or play them.

The way to have a site that ranks on Google is to create, build and maintain a quality site. This means good, quality content and information. Give people what they are looking. Make it a good experience for your visitors. Think about things from their perspective. Do your visitors really want to come to your site only to look at your sales letter? Do you think they are coming to your site with credit card in hand and asking themselves what will they buy today?

If this is what you think then you will simply never make any money on the internet. Get off now and leave things to us responsible marketers who are trying to do things the right way. I am serious. People are online for one reason. They are looking for information. If they have a problem that has led them to your site, then do not abuse their trust or waste their time. Instead, give them the information that they came for. Provide value. If you do this, and do this first, then they might reward you with leaving their name and email addresses.

As an internet marketer myself I found the article about whether a domain name with or without hyphens is most effective to be very interesting. This is actually a very old debate. I can remember reading debates in public forum about this very topic years and years ago. So, apparently the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The reason for all of this is Google. The thing is that Google changes their ranking methods and formulas on a regular basis. In fact, it seems that sometimes a rash of consecutive updates happen, while at other times things are quiet on the Western Front of Google for 6 months, a year or even more. When the rash occurs it seems like we have just barely adjusted to the last update and then a new one occurs.

Each time the update occurs, there are many so called search engine or marketing experts who seem to crawl out of their holes and are released from their self imposed exiles for a time. Then come out and tell everyone that they need to do this or that with their sites, or stop doing one thing or another. The whole game can be quite mind boggling and very confusing if you let it get to you.

My own personal opinion is that having hyphens in your domain name does not really matter that much one way or another.The main thing that influences where you will be ranked by Google is your optimization activities. This basically means the number and quality of links leading back to your site.

I do also think that if your domain is an exact match for an important keyword, this has some good ranking effects. In this case, I would probably NOT recommend putting any hyphens in the domain name. I think that Google is smart enough to correctly parse your domain name either way. Even if it could be read in several different ways, like the author pointed out, there will be clues within the content on your site. If there are not enough clues for Google to figure this out, then you are in trouble and having a good hyphenated or non hyphenated domain name is the least of your worries.

The author did correctly point out the fact that having a hyphenated domain name is a real pain when you are telling customers or prospects to go to the site A, hyphen, B, hyphen, etc… Anything that is too complicated will likely not be done. Something like that cannot be easily remembered. Really, I do not think that having a hyphenated domain really works any way. To me, there is almost no value in doing do.

I also think that the author is on track when he says that it more important to cater first to your visitors and second to Google. So often as online marketers we get things turned around.

Good, concise and balanced article on whether to use hyphens in url or not. I will likely RT or blog this. Thanks.

David Merrington
Many thanks for all the very useful and interesting points here. An amusing one: When I registered for my membership advertising site I was not thinking about key words at all. Just needed a memorable name. Anyway, it was on Google 1 within four hours, and seems still to be there. Shows the potential power in choice of words…

Hi –

Glad I found this comment thread. I am facing a dilemma… the domain I need is taken, so I registered the same domain with a dash/hyphen in the middle. Another person involved registered the full name but using the .me variation. What is the consensus to these possible names and will one generate more traffic than the other? {taken}


Thank You!


Kimberly Alt
Hello, mbook. I think what it will come down to is the quality and the content of your website. I believe would be preferred over the .me URL. If you have good information and content the URL will succeed. If you have any other questions please let me know, and thank you for reading and commenting!


Kimberly Alt
Hi mbook, I’ve done some further research that I wanted to share with you. We believe that .com is stronger than .me because .com is what people type by default. It’s so natural to them. Here’s our order for US market:

.com no hyphens
.com with hyphens
.net and .org
the rest

As mentioned above, this is specific to the US market and not so much for Britain (, Germany (.de), France (.fr), etc. These countries have a cc-TLD that is actually more common for them.

Please let me know if you have any further questions!