Dashes in Domains?

April 1, 2009 by lindac

What´s your take on using dashes between words in a long tail url if the keyword phrase is already taken. Does it have any detrimental effect on seo?

Hi Paul;

As a rule of thumb, I prefer domains without hyphens when possible, but if they’re gone, then I’ll take one with hyphens to get a keyword phrase I want.

I know there’s a lot of debate about whether to use hyphens or not. In the past, search engines didn’t do very well at pulling words out of strings of words, so it was better for search engine purposes to use hyphens. The drawback is that people often forget the dashes, so there’s a risk of losing human traffic to the non-hyphenated version of the domain.

Today, search technology has changed and does much better at pulling words out of a string. But, there are still times when it’s iffy. For example, let’s say your domain is WindowNeedsNow.com. You can use capitalization to show the consumer what the domain is, but search bots ignore capitalization, so they’ll read it as windowneedsnow.com — which could be “window needs now” OR “window need snow.” lol. See?

So the issues you’re juggling are:
a) Will visitors remember the hyphen? If not, will they find your competition?
b) Can search bots misinterpret your domain if you have no hypens?

From Google’s perspective, they don’t care.

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