Does a Dash help or hurt a domain name?

44 replies
  • SEO
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Hey guys,

I have found a few keywords that I want to make a domain name out of - but, they are taken. Can I still rank high in google if I get them, but, put a dash in the domain name?

Also, besides being a pain to type in, does it hurt to have a dash in the domain name?
#dash #domain #hurt
  • Profile picture of the author JennSpencerIM
    I'm not sure how much it would help or hurt, but I'd check out the pages that you are competing against...do those have the dashes or not?
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  • Profile picture of the author LogoNerds
    I don't think it will hurt your rankings at all...but it won't be easy for customers to remember. If you're designing a site for search traffic only and are not concerned about repeat visitors (Example: made for adsense sites) then it won't matter.

    If you want to have a URL that is easy to remember and easy for your visitors to refer people, stay away from the dash.
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    • Profile picture of the author mrsray
      Originally Posted by LogoNerds View Post

      I don't think it will hurt your rankings at all...but it won't be easy for customers to remember.
      I totally agree with this ... I have dashes and it does not hurt my rankings, in fact it's the best ranked site I've ever had LOL

      but ... in order for customers to remember it is the only issue I feel is important to consider, how important is that to you? I think that is what you have to answer.
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  • Profile picture of the author LondonPaladin
    You get one dash no problem but more than that and you will have some trouble with organic rankings.
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  • Profile picture of the author terrapurus
    It is openly recognised by Google that dashes are equivalent to spaces to bots. Just look at this thread's URL in your browser if you want an example.

    For - Can be easier to pick up these days; not that critical as people actually don't remember domain names. If you say to someone you know at work xyz.com is a great site, then they will forget the URL in 20 minutes.

    Con - can look spammy; if you tell a user you have my domain dot com they will go to mydomain.com and not my-domain.com;
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    • Profile picture of the author HCLee
      I have no proof if it is bad but I've never used dashes or hyphens as they don't look good. Moreover I've heard people mention not to use them too. If you can't get the keyword domain you want, just do another keyword research.
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      • Profile picture of the author gcaine
        This is a piece from Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

        Good practices for URL structure
        • Use words in URLs - URLs with words that are relevant to your site's content and structure
        are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be
        more willing to link to them.
        Avoid:
        • using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
        • choosing generic page names like "page1.html"
        • using excessive keywords like "baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.
        htm"


        Notice the last line.

        It's an example of an excessively long line, but more importantly they do use dashes.

        Also I can't find it now, but I'm pretty sure that I did see somewhere on their site that they actually recommend using them.

        I use dashes in the urls of my articles all the time and I still get number 1 rankings so I think that they don't hurt, and they may actually help.
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        • Profile picture of the author zeekstern
          Originally Posted by gcaine View Post

          This is a piece from Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

          Good practices for URL structure
          • Use words in URLs - URLs with words that are relevant to your site's content and structure
          are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be
          more willing to link to them.
          Avoid:
          • using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
          • choosing generic page names like "page1.html"
          • using excessive keywords like "baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.
          htm"


          Notice the last line.

          It's an example of an excessively long line, but more importantly they do use dashes.

          Also I can't find it now, but I'm pretty sure that I did see somewhere on their site that they actually recommend using them.

          I use dashes in the urls of my articles all the time and I still get number 1 rankings so I think that they don't hurt, and they may actually help.
          You are absolutely correct. Google does recommend using dashes. Anything you can do to provide clarity, Google likes. If you do not use dashes, there can be a case where the words within the url can be misinterpreted. Makes sense if you think about it.
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          • Profile picture of the author tsgeric
            Originally Posted by zeekstern View Post

            You are absolutely correct. Google does recommend using dashes. Anything you can do to provide clarity, Google likes. If you do not use dashes, there can be a case where the words within the url can be misinterpreted. Makes sense if you think about it.
            Now I'm really confused. I thought I read that Google has specifically stated that one dash is okay, but more than one looks spammy.

            Of course, it hurts brand building for all the reasons mentioned already.
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            • Profile picture of the author Kurt
              Originally Posted by terrapurus View Post

              It is openly recognised by Google that dashes are equivalent to spaces to bots. Just look at this thread's URL in your browser if you want an example.

              For - Can be easier to pick up these days; not that critical as people actually don't remember domain names. If you say to someone you know at work xyz.com is a great site, then they will forget the URL in 20 minutes.

              Con - can look spammy; if you tell a user you have my domain dot com they will go to mydomain.com and not my-domain.com;
              Originally Posted by gcaine View Post

              This is a piece from Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

              Good practices for URL structure
              • Use words in URLs - URLs with words that are relevant to your site's content and structure
              are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be
              more willing to link to them.
              Avoid:
              • using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
              • choosing generic page names like "page1.html"
              • using excessive keywords like "baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.
              htm"


              Notice the last line.

              It's an example of an excessively long line, but more importantly they do use dashes.

              Also I can't find it now, but I'm pretty sure that I did see somewhere on their site that they actually recommend using them.

              I use dashes in the urls of my articles all the time and I still get number 1 rankings so I think that they don't hurt, and they may actually help.

              Both of these posts mistake URLs for domain names. There's a difference between having a hyphen in a URL and in a domain.
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              • Profile picture of the author Kurt
                Originally Posted by tsgeric View Post

                Now I'm really confused. I thought I read that Google has specifically stated that one dash is okay, but more than one looks spammy.

                Of course, it hurts brand building for all the reasons mentioned already.
                There's a good reason you are confused. Many giving advice on this thread are confused about the difference between domains and URLs.

                Your question is actually a little different. There's some theories that Google doesn't like CONSEQUTIVE hyphens in domain names, as they are generally only used by SEOers.

                This is a valid domain name:
                cheap----------viagra.com
                (A domain name just can't start or end with a hyphen.)

                They'll use something like:
                london--hotels.com

                It's the two consecutive hyphens in a domain name that you should definitely avoid.
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                • Profile picture of the author mrs spencer
                  i really dont know how much dashes will affect google or the se but perdonally i never liked domains with dashes it somehow looks spammy to me... but thats only my view...
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  • Profile picture of the author shermancox
    I always ask myself can I easily tell someone about my domain name. If I ended up on a podcast or something and I had to audibly tell people my domain name, will it be difficult?

    I think dashes and the like won't hurt rankings, but it will be difficult to tell others about your website. Now depending on the purpose of the site, that may not be a big deal, but if you want to create a site that you plan on investing a significant amount of time in...I would suggest not using the dashes...
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Wise
    My understanding is that dashes make no difference to how the site ranks because the search engines can still identify the keywords as they don't recognise dashes. As for it being difficult to give a site name verbally to someone with dashes in, I can't ever really see that happening as you generally provide a link to your site and often cloak it anyway.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Originally Posted by Jeremy James View Post

    Does a Dash help or hurt a domain name?
    No; it doesn't. Not for SEO purposes, anyway.

    (By the way, it's not a "dash". It's actually a "hyphen": they're two different punctuation marks).

    But what can hurt your business is using a hyphenated domain-name of which someone else owns the unhyphenated version, because at some point you'll lose some traffic to them.

    It's honestly as simple as that.
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  • Profile picture of the author hetalamish
    I am not sure whether it will help you or not but I am sure it can not hurt you. However have you checked your desire domain names with the combination of singular and plural? May be that way u get some good quality domain..
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    I see it like this.

    It is not going to hurt or help you in any shape of form so you are safe to do that.

    Tal
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  • Profile picture of the author vishalduggal
    Yes!It 100% harts google ranking ad SEO.because it make google crawlers somewhat puzzled about your website.Consider"." in your website.
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    • Profile picture of the author spazz896
      I have SEVERAL top spots in Google using "-" dashes.
      Based on this; On an SEO viewpoint, it makes no difference

      Have fun.
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      • Profile picture of the author billspaced
        Originally Posted by spazz896 View Post

        I have SEVERAL top spots in Google using "-" dashes.
        Based on this; On an SEO viewpoint, it makes no difference

        Have fun.
        I totally agree on this point. I, too, have hyphens in some of my domain names and they all move up the ranks just fine as long as I do adequate (but not extraordinary) on- and off-page SEO.
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  • Profile picture of the author open4biz
    Originally Posted by Jeremy James View Post

    Hey guys,

    I have found a few keywords that I want to make a domain name out of - but, they are taken. Can I still rank high in google if I get them, but, put a dash in the domain name?

    Also, besides being a pain to type in, does it hurt to have a dash in the domain name?
    Yes, it helps the search engines pick up the keywords in the domain. It's a good idea, EXCEPT THAT people do not trust, nor want to buy from a -dash- domain name. So unless you are redirecting to a non-dash domain for the sale, I would expect a lot of buyer uncertainty about the validity/professionalism of your domain, and therefore... your product.

    Personally, I have popped for a couple-hundred dollar Sedo domains if they were exactly what I wanted. As much as I abhor domain squatters, I will pay for a keyword flush, .com domain, if the price is right.

    Ansel
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    • Profile picture of the author zimzalabim
      My first domain I bought ten years ago has a dash in it. And it does look ugly.
      I've not touched that site for a very long time though remarkably it's still got a first page ranking on the Big G.

      Whether the dash helps or hurts is an interesting debate and I guess we'll have different opinions based on our individual experiences of using a "dashed" domain name.

      Personally, I wouldn't buy another domain using a dash purely because (in my opinion) it doesn't look "right."

      Yours,

      Andy.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
        Banned
        Originally Posted by zimzalabim View Post

        I wouldn't buy another domain using a dash purely because (in my opinion) it doesn't look "right."
        It can do, depending on the domain, Andy. Let's not forget the people who didn't use a hyphen but should have done: the "mole station nursery", "pen island", "therapist finder" and those other ones ...
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        • Profile picture of the author IM Ash
          Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

          It can do, depending on the domain, Andy. Let's not forget the people who didn't use a hyphen but should have done: the "mole station nursery", "pen island", "therapist finder" and those other ones ...
          That is just hilarious

          LMFAO!!!
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      • Profile picture of the author itzpaul
        You can still rank with a dash in your domain. I have personally tested with dash and without dash. Without dash seems to be a lot more effective early on and if you have a dash it just takes a little longer of backlinks to get it completed.

        I however, would recommend without a dash if possible. Especially if it's a company name domain but if it's a niche site dash is alright it will just be a little more work.
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  • Profile picture of the author wenzel777
    I agree with many posts. Personally, I've had a couple of dashed domain names, and as far as ranking..no problems there at all. However, like most have said, they're not the most "people friendly." If I was using the words for SEO---then go for it. If I was building a brand, I would search for a 2-word domain w/ out dash & focus most of my optimizing efforts on the actual content of the website. Domains w/ relevant keywords do give you some organic pull, but it's only one small part of optimizing for the web. There's a lot of other areas you can focus on for ranking. My 2 cents. Good luck!

    Also, if you ever planned on selling your domain at some point, that hyphen is going to downgrade its value considerably even with great keywords in the domain. My suggestion is to use the words for article marketing efforts...but for brand-building---run away..fast.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dwight Anthony
    I was wondering that once myself, so i talked to one of the domain guys on godaddy. He told me that it really doesn't help or hurt just makes the domain name longer. Something to consider as i ran an adwords campaign that they would not approve because the domain was too long!
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  • Profile picture of the author Randy Daugherty
    You domain will be great if you don't place dash..Something special characters on the domain seems so disturbing for the search engine. So might as well look or think of a domain name without dash.
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  • Profile picture of the author Vusal
    Domain name would look better without dashes, imo
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    • Profile picture of the author Titan86
      The #2 Google result for the outrageously competitive "dog training" keyword phrase has THREE hyphens in the domain name (at my data center).

      If you feel you can compete for that keyword, go for it!
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  • Profile picture of the author trytolearnmore
    Domains without dashes have a higher priority
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  • Profile picture of the author Anup Mahajan
    I don't think having a dash hurts the domain name. But of course it would be hard to remember and people could easily go to nichesite.com instead of niche-site.com so that way you could lose visitors/customers

    But if you are confident of getting good rankings then you can go for a domain with a dash. You can also see if you can get a domain name with your keyword in the beginning without dashes

    example

    nichereport
    nichescam
    nichereview
    nichestore
    nicheoutlet

    etc.

    Regards,
    Anup
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by Jeremy James View Post

    Also, besides being a pain to type in, does it hurt to have a dash in the domain name?
    Well, imagine if it had been pen-island.com instead of penisland.com

    Of course, nothing could save therapist.com...
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  • Profile picture of the author bravo75
    Or how about polish-it.com?
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    If your main keywords are in the domain but separated by hyphens, it should not make any difference in the ranking. The only difference is how people may perceive your domain; the general consensus is that long domain names with many hyphens in between are considered disreputable.
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  • Profile picture of the author fazlerocks
    Hi!!

    Google will still crawl through your website if it has dashes in the domain. All that matter is the correct optimization of your site.

    You need to name your site correctly as Google Checks perfect keywords used in the title of the site. Never the less, the contents in the site should be your first priority rather than making it on top of search engines.

    You can also google the term "GOOGLE SEO" and download the ebook titled :" Search Engines Optimization Starter's Guide"

    This Ebook is the official release of Google.

    Bye. Best of luck for your website.
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    • Profile picture of the author 123andyt
      Related to this I have a dilemna...

      I have a two word (really good) keyphrase which I would like to buy a domain for...

      The phrase without a dash dot org is available .... ie: keyword1keyword2.org

      The phrase with a dash dot com is available ...... ie: keyword1-keyword2.com

      Which would you go for (and yes, buying both is a consideration but still need to decide which to develop as the 'main' domain)
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      • Profile picture of the author IM Ash
        Originally Posted by 123andyt View Post

        Related to this I have a dilemna...

        I have a two word (really good) keyphrase which I would like to buy a domain for...

        The phrase without a dash dot org is available .... ie: keyword1keyword2.org

        The phrase with a dash dot com is available ...... ie: keyword1-keyword2.com

        Which would you go for (and yes, buying both is a consideration but still need to decide which to develop as the 'main' domain)
        I have actually being engaged in some intense research on hyphenated domains, and my advice to you will be to go for .com with the hyphen i.e if you are going to be focused on gaining traffic through the organic results. If you intend advertising your domain name or verbally giving it to clients then the .org will be a better option.

        I have discovered through my research that it really doesn't matter whether the domain is hyphenated or not with regard to SEO. What is important is having your exact keyword in your title, within your content (preferably 1.5% density), and as an H1 tag. I will also suggest building your site using wordpress.

        Then of course there is the all important off-page SEO - Backlinks Backlinks and more Backlinks.... preferably backlinks with your keyword as anchor text.
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        • Profile picture of the author kershawm
          I haven't noticed a difference. I can still get number one rankings either way as long as the on-page factors are good and the links and anchor text are good.
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  • Profile picture of the author aritrim
    One dash in a domain name: No harm in rankings, low resale value if you just sell the domain name later.

    More than one dash in a domain name: Spam. 0 resale value.

    I had one such domain which is up for sale on Sedo for years, but it won't sale because of the -, however it ranked #1 on Google consistently at one time for the words - html encrypter (low competition), domain being html-encrypter.com

    IMHO, one dash does not harm rankings. And, moreover we do not remember domain names, 90% time we click on a link.
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  • Profile picture of the author jhonsean
    @LogoNerds. You have the point there, It doesn't matter if the domain has - or not the dependability of the page will be on the high quality of the content, Guest more likely visits user-friendly sites and easy to familiarize. Hope this helps for the thread.
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  • Profile picture of the author shauryas
    no matter, with dash or without dash if your domain is keyword rich then it will be on higher priority for SE.
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  • Profile picture of the author ceogod
    It doesn't affect your rankings. However, if your targeting a buyer keyword don't use them. They look foolish. lol.
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