It seems the hyphenated domain dilemma is rearing its head again. However this time I’m hearing from SEO guys that hyphenated domain names actually hurt your search engine rankings. I’ve found no evidence that this is the case but I do have plenty of evidence to the contrary. Not only that, hyphens can increase the number of visitors you get once your site shows up in the rankings.
Let’s start with some hyphenated domain names that are #1 in Google for their search terms. For those people who think you can’t get to the top, this should dispel that myth:
|http://front-porch-ideas-and-more.com||Front porch ideas|
|http://www.dog-obedience-training-review.com/||Dog Obedience Training|
|http://www.windows-vista-update.com||Windows vista update|
|http://practical-home-theater-guide.com||Home theater guide|
|http://digital-photography-school.com/||Digital Photography Tips|
|http://www.digital-photography-tips.net/||Digital Photography Tips|
|http://www.digital.mississippi-photo-gallery.com/||Digital Photography Tips|
So if you’re at all concerned about hyphenated domain names, you can clearly search for any of these terms and find these domains at the top of the list. Most of them are in the #1 position. And the digital photography tips page is dominated by hyphenated domain names. Dominated.
It’s clear from these domain names that the site owners are likely adept at using SEO techniques to help their domain names climb the ladder. Perhaps they are so adept they can overcome the fact that they have hyphenated domain names. And perhaps a search for sites with lesser skilled developers would prove the point better. But since these are more skilled developers AND they still chose the hyphenated domain name -wouldn’t that further indicate hyphens aren’t bad.
In fact, check out SiteBuildIt’s Results Page to see a list of sites in the top 1% of Alexa’s rankings built mainly by people who’d never built a site before. Notice that most of them are hyphenated. Hyphens are one of the notions Site Build It teaches in their course (the best website building course on the net, in my opinion).
As I further explain in this YouTube Video (Does a Hyphenated Domain Name Make Sense?), hyphens can often increase the number of visitors, reduce confusion and quickly show visitors what your site is about. Suppose you were searching for “money making ideas from home” and you saw these two websites pop up in Google’s results:
http://waystomakemoneyathome.com or http://ways-to-make-money-at-home.com
Which one draws your attention the fastest?
Some domain names should be hyphenated whether it hurts your rankings or not. Check out this domain for a popular restaurant in Philadelphia:
It’s clear from a marketing perspective that han-dynasty-philadelphia.com would have made better sense.
If you still believe hyphenated domain names will hurt your search engine results , I invite you to help sway my thoughts. What makes you believe this to be true? When asked if hyphens or underscores would be better, Matt Cutts of Google himself said hyphens would be better than underscores. While not totally related, he did not say that you should avoid using both. Please leave your thoughts, I look forward to a different opinion.
(Also check out what Google prefers: hyphens or underscores)