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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, expertsexchange.com – 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 Alex Schenker
Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.
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165 Comments on "Domain Name With or Without Hyphens?"

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Lance
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Lance

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
Guest
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.

Joe Taylor
Guest
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?

1. KeywordA-Z.com
2. KeywordAtoZ.com
3. KeywordAZ.com

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

Thanks!

Ron Talmor
Guest
Ron Talmor
Hi Alex, We’re a retail eyewear company going online. We chose the name “SeeofLife.com” but some people like it and some not. So we decide to go with “2seelife.com” 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… Read more »
picklink
Guest
picklink

I personally prefer SeeofLife 😐

ivanski
Guest
ivanski

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 paper-animals.com, or alternatively paperobjects.com. thanx for any reply

comment355
Guest
comment355

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
Guest
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
Guest
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.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Sarah, great question. If most of your traffic is coming through organic search (i.e. Google), it shouldn’t matter. For branding purposes, I would lean towards VivaAdmin as the primary name (notice how I used capitalization to differentiate the “A’s”, a possible approach for your marketing materials). I would also grab Vivadmin (one “A”) and redirect that and the hyphenated version to the primary if possible. Also note that in some countries, hyphens are a lot more common, sometimes even preferred (in the U.S. they are not), so consider who your target audience is.

Linda
Guest

I choose dashed domains, I think it is good for seo.

Or Ellenbogen
Guest
Or Ellenbogen

Great post!
Helped me get to a decision for my new domain!

Shawn
Guest
Shawn

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
Guest
Kimberly Alt

Glad we could help you Shawn! Hope your site is a success!

Sheldon
Guest
Sheldon

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
Guest
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… Read more »
Coenraad Loubser
Guest
Coenraad Loubser

What about oji dot online?

Will
Guest
Will

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
Guest
Kimberly Alt
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… Read more »
picklink
Guest
picklink

Well, hyphen is the only symbol allowed.

Kimberly Alt
Guest
Kimberly Alt

That is true as well 🙂

Gabriela Fellini
Guest
Gabriela Fellini

Hi Alex. I want to to buy a domain but soulocal.com is not available anymore. So I think soul-local.com is ok but I am not sure about this hyphen. It’s a worldwide web so any advice would be great. Thank you!

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Gabriela,

Please read my article above and my responses to reader comments below – you’ll find your answer!

Satish
Guest
Satish

Hi Alex,

My company’s name is Biostarch plastics LLP, and we are into manufacturing medical equipments in plastics.

Biostarch.com is not available.

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

Available options are:

1) Biostarchplastics.com

2) Bio-starch.com

3) Dispogreen.com (brand name – dispogreen)

Please advise

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Satish,

I would register both your brand name, Dispogreen.com, and your company name, Biostarchplastics.com. Which one to use as your primary site is up to you.

J Mayo
Guest
J Mayo
Hi Alex, I just came across your site while looking for SEO solutions, I did a travel blog http://www.zimguide.com 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… Read more »
Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi J Mayo,

In my search you’re currently ranking #14 for “Zim Guide.” That’s not bad – just keep building out your content and you’ll get up there. Don’t worry about keywords in the domain or hyphens – it’s all about writing quality content and marketing it. Your domain name is good, stick with it, changing to the hyphenated version won’t change anything – although you may want to consider using it as an alias for brand protection purposes.

Cheers,
Alex

Katherine Robinson
Guest
Katherine Robinson

Thanks! This post and your comments have been immensely valuable!

S Lewis
Guest
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!

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi S Lewis,

That depends entirely on the nature of the domain name and the keywords you’re planning on using. If you provide those (please register any names first) I can give more specific guidance.

Jeff Stephens
Guest
Jeff Stephens

I client that needs a website and his business name is Rick Wilson Plumbing, which RickWilsonplumbing.com is taken so I am thinking of an alternative and that being either Rick-Wilson-Plumbing.com or RWilsonPlumbing,com. I feel the hyphenated version is too long, what do you think?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Hi Jeff, Depends on how much of a brand his name (Rick Wilson) is. If it’s big, I might build out the site on Rick-Wilson-Plumbing.com, but then redirect RWilsonPlumbing.com to it and use that in marketing materials. Keyword research shows that “Rick Wilson” is searched 1,000 times a month, and “Rick WIlson Plumbing” 10 times a month, beginning three months ago. But the domain name is not the end all be all, he can still rank for “Rick Wilson” with RWilsonPlumbing.com. So long story short, if the name is not a huge “word of mouth” brand in town, RWilsonPlumbing.com should… Read more »
David Wheeler
Guest
David Wheeler
Hi, I’ve built my own website, the address is http://www.tourtheuk.co.uk. 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… Read more »
Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Hi David, Keywords don’t play nearly as strong a role in SEO rankings as they used to. The reason you’re ranking highly for “tourtheuk” is because there’s little competition for that vs “tour the uk.” I would definitely stick with the name you already have, tourtheuk.co.uk. The key to traffic and rankings is creating unique, quality content and marketing that via organic, paid, and social channels. Built out your website, share it, and participate in like-minded communities. You have a good domain name, that part is done. Check out our how to create a web site series (note, it’s in… Read more »
Coenraad Loubser
Guest
Coenraad Loubser

I’m not so sure… I would host the site under both names and eventually do a permanent redirect to tour-the-uk as it reads easier. Perhaps just a matter of taste.

Michael Moody
Guest

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/”?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Michael,

Thank you! Yes, I would use hyphens between words in the path portion (post/page URL) of your domain name. It’s not only easier for search engines to decipher, it’s also easier on your reader’s eyes.

Michael Moody
Guest

Thanks for the quick response! Is it still worth changing each page url (and internal links) after it’s been live for over a year and ranking high for the desired keywords? I’d hate to lose my google ranking, but, at the same time, I don’t want to redo the internal at a later time when the website has even more pages and internal links.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
This is a tough one. Is it an “all or nothing” URL setup like you typically get with a CMS such as WordPress; ie. you change the settings and they all get hyphens? Changing URL’s should result in a redirect (make sure you 301 redirect old to new URL if you change them to pass search credit!). Some search credit will be lost in a redirect, however, so you’ll need to balance the importance of your existing URL structure & rankings vs the content you plan to publish going forwards. If it’s grown into a large established site, it may… Read more »
Gryph
Guest
Gryph

Hi Alex, could use an opinion here – I have a lengthy name and I’m a bit lost. GryphonTheriaultLoubier.com seems a bit long in the tooth. I currently have g-t-l.com and a couple of others, most variations are available. GryphTL, GryphonTheriault, etc. What do you suggest?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Gryph,

I like G-T-L.com. My second pick is GryphTL.com. Like you said, you don’t want readers to misspell the domain and end up somewhere else. You could always house your domain on the lengthy version of what I assume is your full name, since for click-through traffic the spelling won’t matter. Then use an “alias”, or shortened URL in your marketing materials that redirects to the full name. Ie. someone typing in “GryphTL.com” will automatically end up on GryphonTheriaultLoubier.com.

Eco Erin
Guest
Eco Erin

Thanks for the great article. I would like to use smslife.com, 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 thesmslife.com or sms-life.com. I am leaning towards the hyphen because it seems easier to market and sticks in the customers head. What is your opinion?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Eco,

I agree with you, I would go with the hyphenated version – it looks cleaner. And don’t forget that domain prices can typically be negotiated down significantly.

ohmypony
Guest
ohmypony
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. debora-ribeiro(dot)com deboraribeiro(dot)org What do you think would be best? .co or hyphen with .com. I think the hyphen would be a little more difficult… Read more »
Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Debora,

I would go with the hyphenated .com version. Are you based in Portugal? If so, the .pt name will give you a local boost. If your focus is a national audience, the .com might be preferable as you mention.

ohmypony
Guest
ohmypony
Hello Alex! Thank you for your reply 🙂 So you don’t think .co is a good idea? I’ve had it for a year now and thought it looked quite good and was also easy to say it in words. .pt would be a good idea for portugal, but won’t it limit my views outside? So you say http://www.debora-ribeiro(dot)com is best and better than http://www.deboraribeiro(dot)co – better for ranking on Google as well? Sorry if I’m being a pain in the butt, it’s just that I’m about to print some cards and flyers and needed to make a good decision regarding… Read more »
Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Debora, technically speaking .co is the ccTLd (country-coded top level domain) for Columbia. It’s being touted as a “.com” alternative, but people will always type in .com, so your branding needs to be strong to support .co. You can use it in your marketing materials, just redirect it to the .com version.

PT – yes, increased visibility in Portugal, but potentially limiting worldwide compared to .com. That’s why I asked where your primary audience is.

SEO – go with .com.

Athletes Care
Guest

Thanks for the wonderful blog. I also have the same questions please suggest me whether to use physiotherapy-ottawa.com or ottawaphysiotherapy.ca. Which would be better with hyphen or without hyphen?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

That depends on where you’re based. If your business is based in Canada, I would use the .CA as your primary domain.

Athletes Care
Guest

Thanks for the consideration. Actually I am bit confused about whether to use a hyphen or not. Assuming the domain extension is the same, would you opt for physiotherapy-ottawa or physiotherapyottawa?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

As my article suggests, all other things equal, an unhyphenated domain name is always preferable to a hyphenated one.

Rui Pereira
Guest
Rui Pereira

Hi. I want to register a domain with my own name for some services. I want ruipereira.com but it is already taken. I have the option rui-pereira.net, rjpereira.net, rjpereira.pt or rui-pereira.pt (that is .pt for my country, Portugal). I always prefer the domain .com but can’t find one.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Rui,

Since you’re from Portugal I would go with either rjpereira.pt or rui-pereira.pt (I’m guessing J is the initial for your middle name?). In some countries a hyphen is more prominent than others, so that decision is up to you since you’re no doubt more familiar with Portugal websites than I am.

Dot COM doesn’t tend to be nearly as important in non-U.S. countries, although it depends what you’ll be using the domain for (ie. what kinds of visitors, and where from, you are trying to attract).

Rui Pereira
Guest
Rui Pereira

Thanks for your help. I’m seeing that ruijpereira.com is available. Would I choose ruijpereira.com, rui-pereira.pt or rjpereira.pt? J is the initial for my middle name. The people I’m trying to attract are mostly Portuguese. Thanks for the help.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Rui, that depends on which part of your name you consider to be more common, or brandable (ie. “rui” or “rj”). Since your audience is mostly Portuguese, I would opt for one of the .pt names as your primary domain (if there’s on preference for “rui” vs “rj” I would go with rjpereira.pt since it doesn’t have a hyphen). I would register the .com version as well (for brand protection purposes) and redirect it to your primary domain.

Janet
Guest
Janet

Starting a Blog: marketfreshcreative.com is taken (no content currently), so I was considering market-fresh-creative.com. In your opinion, do you think I will have trouble with this domain name given the hyphens? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Janet, it all depends on how you plan to market your website. As mentioned in the article, you won’t have troubles with organic search traffic (ie. click-through’s from search engine results), but if you get lots of traffic from word-of-mouth or from people that type your domain name in directly, you will miss out on that traffic. Have you tried contacting the owner of the non-hyphenated version to see if it’s for sale?

UMABooma
Guest
UMABooma

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.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Depends on the context – I would need a little more information.

Yiddish Translator
Guest

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):

http://www.yiddish-translator.com
or
http://www.theyiddishtranslator.com

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Hi Nick, had to give this one some thought. In cases such as these I often recommend the “the” version, but in your specific example I’m not a fan of the way the letters “mesh” together visibility wise. I would therefore opt for the hyphenated version – it’s much more clear at first glance (easier to read); and that will be a powerful aid to your marketing efforts. And again, if the majority of your traffic is organic search, the hyphen won’t be a huge issue. The one concern might be if someone buys YiddishTranslator.com and competes with you, and… Read more »
Yiddish Translator
Guest

Thank you so much for your input. I appreciate it. My traffic really is through organic search. So I might just go with the hyphen then.

As for the unhyphenated version, I inquired last year about how much. I offered $80 and they went down from $17,000 to $11,000. That’s where we ended off. …I would appreciate any tips on how to get them down to a realistic price.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Wow that is pricey! The term “Yiddish translator” only gets 1,000 searches per month on average (in the U.S.), and the .net, .org variations are not registered, so at surface glance I can’t imagine it’s worth anywhere near the amount they’re asking. Again, a domain is only worth what someone will pay for it. I would send them whatever you’re willing to pay (I myself wouldn’t pay more than $500 for this particular name) and say this is your final offer. You could add in a time expiration (ie. this is only good for 72 hours, after that you have… Read more »
Sania zehra
Guest
Sania zehra

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

eg: Princess.com vs. HappyPrincess.com … Can Princess.com sue HappyPrincess.com? Or, the vice-versa?

Many thanks in advance for your help!

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Sania,

That’s going to depend on the specific words, as some words are too generic to fall under trademark for all circumstances. For example, “Amazon” is a trademark, but it is also a rainforest, so you are allowed to have a site AmazonRainforest.com, but you are probably going to run into trouble with AmazonShipping.com. Therefore it’s hard to say without knowing what the domain name is. Typically, if the words come up in a TESS search and you are competing in the same industry, you may be violating the trademark.

Sania zehra
Guest
Sania zehra
Thank you Alex for your detailed response. Could you please elaborate more on category overlap. Like in the case of amazon, amazon sells everything, so if someone comes up with a domain name like ‘amazon gadgets’ or ‘amazon clothes’, does that qualify as a case of trademark violation? Also, do all domain names like .com, .uk, .us, .in, etc. get same weight when looking into trademark violations, for eg: if HappyPriness.com comes up after Princess.co.us and is in the same category and registered in the same country.? Do all countries follow similar rules for judging trademark violations? How can one… Read more »
Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Sania, these are all great questions! However, they are beginning to move from the realm of technical expertise in domains to the legal domain, and I would hate to misguide you as I’m not an attorney. I recommend you checkout LegalZoom – they offer legal advice from real attorneys at massive discounts.

Jan
Guest

Hi Alex,

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

http://Gls-Solutions.com
http://GlsSolutions.com
http://Gls.Solutions

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

Cheers.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Jan, hands down GlsSolutions.com. Dot COM is still king, and hyphen-less, with few exceptions, is always better. Nice job grabbing these names! I would 301 (permanently) redirect your alternate names to this main one.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa
Hi! 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) http://www.buy-sellbaltimore-harfordhomes.com 2) http://www.lisanemec.com 3) http://www.thedominohomegroup.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… Read more »
Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Hi Lisa, I’m not a real estate expert, but given my general domain background, I would agree that the first one is too long with confusing hyphen positioning. If you don’t end up using your real name domain name, I would definitely redirect it towards the name you eventually choose. Try to come up with some options that are shorter, easy to pronounce but to difficult misspell, and reflect the nature of your business. I’ve written an article on Finding The Right Domain Name For Your Business that may help guide you in the right direction. You can also visit… Read more »
Dawn
Guest
Dawn

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: dawnmarieevents.com or dawnmarie-events.com. I’m concerned that when someone is typing the url they will miss the double e’s. Thoughts?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Dawn,

I would buy both DawnMarieEvents.com and DawnMariEvents.com, then redirect the latter to the former in case people misspell it. When you market your URL do it with capital letters, as I did above, to prevent confusion. It’s safe to capitalize the host portion of a URL (host.com) without confusing browsers (they treat both uppercase and lowercase the same). The path section (host.com/path), on the other hand, does make a difference to some website/hosting platforms.

Sheri
Guest

Interesting post. I’m starting a travel blog called Someday Today. I bought the url someday-today.com but am worried I will be ranked lower because of the hyphen. The actual somedaytoday.com was a ridiculously high price because of the very common words used so I can’t buy it. The only other option would be someday2day.com, 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 somedaytoday.us, which I don’t care for either. This is tough. Do you think I’ll be ok with someday-today.com? Thanks!!

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Sheri,

You don’t have to worry about the hyphen affecting your ranking. As for your alternate domain options, short of modifying your blog name I would opt for someday-today.com. The good news is that if your visitors inadvertently visit somedaytoday.com, they will (at least for the time being) arrive at a parking page and not a competitor.

Brandfishing
Guest

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 mobileapps.com (just an example) is trademarked and I get mobile-apps.com and develop it into a site and business, can the owner of mobileapps.com sue me?

Thanks.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Unfortunately they could since the words are trademarked irrespective of hyphens.

Kwesi Banson Jnr
Guest
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.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Kwesi, I’m going to need more details than that. If you’re choosing between BlankoOil.com and Blanko-Oil.com, I’d obviously opt for the former (no hyphens).

Rich
Guest
Rich

Hi Alex,
I have 2 options for a web-design related site: nekstar.com or d-igit.com.
What would be the best choice?
Thanks in advance!

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Rich,

Depends on what you’re going for with those words (ie. I would need to know more about your brand and your thinking behind those choices – ie. what do they mean?). Without knowing anything, I would lean towards nekstar. The hyphen in d-igit is a bit confusing.

Gabriel
Guest
Gabriel

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?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Gabriel,

Thanks for the compliment 🙂

I don’t think there’s a reason for renewing the hyphenated domain unless you already have a site built on it or it has any kind of SEO juice you could take advantage of. Your primary domain name is great, I would stick with that.

xull
Guest

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, ResidenceHotel.com is taken. What should I choose? Residence-Hotel.com, ResidenceHotelParis.com or ResidenceHotel.net?

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

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Hi Xull, This is an interesting one, because hyphens are actually more popular (and people are more used to using them) outside the U.S. market. It’s still best to go hyphenless if possible. If it’s available, I would actually go with ResidenceHotel.fr (France’s ccTLD). Second choice for the French market would probably be Residence-Hotel.com, followed by ResidenceHotelParis.com. ccTLD’s (country code top-level domains), or geo-targeted domains as you call them, are quite effective in most countries, excluding the U.S., where .com reigns supreme. Another way to look at this would be to use the format ResidenceHotel[City].com, if you plan on expanding… Read more »
alex
Guest
alex

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 http://www.topptc.com but the price is too high. So I want to make my own site with hyphen looks like this http://www.top-ptc.com Would it effect SEO and decrease traffic to my site? Please advice.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

No, from an SEO perspective adding a hyphen will not have an impact on traffic. Where it may make a difference is type-in traffic (users that hear about the site by word-of-mouth may not remember to use the hyphen).

Darija
Guest
Darija

Hi I just started a company caled Cata sailing and now I need to have a domain for it. I can either go with cata-sailing.com or catacharter.com. I’m worried about the impact of hyphen on SEO if I go with cata-sailing.com, but I’m also having doubts if catacharter.com will confuse people and weaken our brand. Please advise

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Darija, if you’re concerned with brand confusion having a hyphenated domain is not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of successful businesses that do so. A bigger concern, looking at the content of catasailing.com, is that visitors intending to find you may end up on that site instead.

Nelson Herrero
Guest

“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.

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing Nelson, that is good to know. Do you have some examples you can share?

Ron Miller
Guest
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… Read more »
Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi Ron, excellent question. I would need some more specific information to give you completely accurate advice, but generally I would lean towards either the two word low competition domain or the brandable .com. Which one depends entirely on what your niche is, how you plan to market, what the actual keywords are, etc. The key thing to remember here is keywords in domains aren’t nearly as powerful as they used to be. If you want to send that data via our contact form, I can consult you outside of this public forum.

Alex
Guest
Alex

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?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Hi there,

Sorry for the delayed response, your comment slipped through the cracks! I’m not sure what exactly you’re asking here: are you unable to secure the domain that’s on auction so you’re going for the hyphenated version? Ideally you would have both, but if you can’t afford the non-hyphenated version and you anticipate your traffic coming primarily from organic search (ie. clicks on your link), the hyphenated version should do fine.

If you can elucidate your scenario a bit more, I can give more targeted guidance.

kez
Guest

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!

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Hi Kez, First off, I’m so sorry this happened to you! This guy sounds like a real scumbag. There’s two things you can do: yes, register the hyphenated version, as far as SEO goes it will be just as good as the unhyphenated version. However, for word of mouth marketing, it won’t be as effective and people may forget to enter the hyphen. You could try to come up with an entirely new (and possibly better) name, or you could use the hyphenated version for now and put a reminder in your calendar to grab the unhyphenated version in case… Read more »
Roxana Valdes-Lynch
Guest
Roxana Valdes-Lynch

Simple question. Which one will be best ?
byroxanalynch.com or roxanalynchdesigner.com?

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Hi Roxana, I vote for roxanalynchdesigner.com. Simple reason: it took me a minute to figure out that byroxanalynch.com meant “by roxana lynch,” because the words “by” and “roxana” run together (“byroxana”) and make it more difficult (at least for me) to parse the word. The second benefit, from a keyword perspective, is that roxanalynchdesigner.com includes the word “designer” – which may help anyone searching for your name associated with this term. A third alternative is roxana-lynch.com, that’s also a good one (I might register this one as well just in case, even if you don’t decide to use it). And… Read more »
Guest
Guest
Guest
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 diegorever.com/empreendimentos-sustentaveis/ecopet/ (uf) or better a shorter easier to remember that might even well be the main address like diegorever.com/ecopet (for the AmigasEcoPet.com domain to forward) , or to put it otherwise, is it worth the keywords put that long way (for worst entrepreneurship is a long… Read more »
Diego Weissel Rovira
Guest
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 (amigasecopet.com), is it better with… Read more »
Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker
Hi professor Greenbrain, Kimberly is correct as far as AmigasEcoPet.com targeting your brand name the closest, and we always prefer a .com with no hyphen when available (assuming the hyphen is not needed to make sense of the words). Some additional guidance: while I like EcoAmigas.com, it does not describe your brand (eco PET bottles). And while amigas-ecopet.com is easier to read, you can always market your domain name as AmigasEcoPet.com. I did some further research and found some other good candidates. I have emailed these to you to ensure that no one else reading this thread grabs them before… Read more »
Diego Weissel Rovira
Guest

Thanks sooo much Alex, your answer was extra complete and plus Kimberly has turned me a WeRockYourWeb fan already. I also look forward to reading your email as well. Today, I bought that domain AmigasEcoPet.com but no doubt it will give some ideas, maybe to buy a second domain.
Greetings

Alex Schenker
Guest
Alex Schenker

Glad we were able to help Diego! Best of luck with your Amigas Eco Pet business. Feel free to check back here anytime for assistance as you grow your presence on the Web.

Kimberly Alt
Guest
Kimberly Alt

Hi Diego!
Is the name of your brand ecoPET or Amigas ecoPET?
If it is Amigas ecoPET, I suggest using the domain name amigasecopet.com (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
Guest

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
Guest
Kimberly Alt

I’m glad I could help you out Diego! Good luck with your new venture!

Abdullah
Guest
Abdullah

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

We Rock Your Web
Guest
We Rock Your Web
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… Read more »
Richard Esq.
Guest
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.

smart-surveillance-tips(dot)com

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?

We Rock Your Web
Guest
We Rock Your Web
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… Read more »
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