Exact match domain: Better to use hyphen, or change word order?

30 replies
  • SEO
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Hey folks,

Wanted to get opinions on best SEO practice for domain names. If the exact name domain isn't available, is second choice better to use a hyphen (eg. firstword-secondword.com) or change the word order (eg. secondwordfirstword.com).

What say thee?
#change #domain #exact #hyphen #match #order #seo #word
  • Profile picture of the author Christine Brady
    Hi,

    I don't think flipping the word order is a good idea - then you would not have the keyword phrase at all.

    I have used hypens before and found success with an exact match with hypens -

    Use the hypens before flipping the order of words!
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    • Profile picture of the author Firdaus Riduan
      Definitely with hyphens will be a better choice. If you change the word order, it changes the whole meaning, and that means it will be considered as a different keyword. You can try finding a domain name with a .net or .org too as an alternative.

      Cheers.
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    • Profile picture of the author Tom Ryan
      I would not flip the words around. If you can't get the EMD then hyphens are fine. If all else fails I will add something to the end like mykeywordsite.com, mykeywordblog.com, meykeywordinfo.com, etc. But at that point it is no longer an EMD, but you still have the benefit of having your keyword in the domain.
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      • Profile picture of the author jerry25
        I have purchased several .com domain names with hyphens. It has not seemed to effect the search results at all. I don't plan on selling my sites, but I'm well aware that this could cause a reduction in value if I did decide to sell the sites.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Hyphens don't affect SEO at all (according to Google, and Matt Cutts, who's made several blog posts and even a video explaining it), so personally I might prefer the hyphen, because it would no longer be an EMD if you changed the word order, would it?

    In either case, though, you're reducing the potential resale value and will at some point perhaps lose some type-in traffic to the owner of the non-hyphenated .com.

    Strange word, really, "non-hyphenated", isn't it?!
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  • Profile picture of the author malta
    I've never had any success using hyphens.. it's better to add a small prefix or postfix such as my/top/1 etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay81
      Hello,

      Is it dash (-) in between domain name that you refer to as hyphen here? If it is then I agree that it's okay to use it. In fact I have read from an experienced webmaster that Google reads dashes in between domain name as space in between words. So it's good. Another reason to use dash in a domain name is when your domain name is more than 2 words. Instead of just writing everything together, it's better to add dashes.

      But if I were you, I'll rather add another word to the keyword name than using a dash. E.g Keywordnamehq.com , keywordnamecenter.com and so on. It's better than using keyword-name.com when someone else already used keywordname.com because definitely doing so will see your site lose some traffic.
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  • Profile picture of the author deeve007
    So hyphen/dash, or something added to the end (eg: "hq") seems to be the order of the day then.

    Thanks guys, great tips and much appreciated!!
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  • The only thing that would make me think the order of the words doesn't matter, is when you use the Google Adwords Keyword tool they will list bluehouses and then housesblue right next to each other with the exact same search volume. Otherwise, I like the hyphen idea because it actually makes the domain easier to read for a potential client.
    Stef
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  • Profile picture of the author Mansion
    For me, hyphens have ranked just as well as non-hyphenated domains; however they take a tad longer to rank. In the end; however, the results are not dissimilar.
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    • Profile picture of the author Meharis
      Adding to all the info you've received, I would like to remark:
      The name of the game about domaining is about Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives.
      If you put the words in the right place you can't go wrong. Nothing complicated.

      Meharis
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  • Profile picture of the author deeve007
    Here's something related I'm wondering: with Google obviously trying to weed out the good from the crap, for the keyword search "best restaurants in new york" would it be better to have "best-restaurants-in-new york.com" or something like "foodreviews.com/best-restaurants-in-new york"?
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  • Profile picture of the author ex9to5guy
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    • Profile picture of the author outwest
      Originally Posted by futuremills View Post

      i like to add a word or letter. So if my emd is black television remotes i will go with buyblacktelevisionremotes. I never really been a fan of the hyphen, im sure it works fine, i just dont like the look.
      so then thats not an EMD anymore if you do that

      you guys think you can take EMD word order and change it add to it any way you want and its still an EMD? because it still contains the words in that order?
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  • Profile picture of the author deeve007
    Does anyone really know if EMD changes just because there are extra words before or after? When doing keyword research, I often see at the top of listings domains that either contain suffix or prefixes, or even without an EMD at all. And I do think definitely Google are lowering the importance of this, just by how much I (no one) is sure.
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    • Profile picture of the author outwest
      Originally Posted by deeve007 View Post

      Does anyone really know if EMD changes just because there are extra words before or after? When doing keyword research, I often see at the top of listings domains that either contain suffix or prefixes, or even without an EMD at all. And I do think definitely Google are lowering the importance of this, just by how much I (no one) is sure.

      if you add words before or after its no longer an EMD
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    • Profile picture of the author AndyBlackSEO
      Originally Posted by deeve007 View Post

      Does anyone really know if EMD changes just because there are extra words before or after? When doing keyword research, I often see at the top of listings domains that either contain suffix or prefixes, or even without an EMD at all. And I do think definitely Google are lowering the importance of this, just by how much I (no one) is sure.
      If other words are added it moves from being an exact match domain to a keyword rich domain.

      It's like anything... when too many people jump on the band wagon... and 'game' the system.. Google will try and tighten things up to remove some of the issues and regain control.

      I still think that certain EMD's have added weight in terms of search engine rankings. It's only one factor though.
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  • Profile picture of the author deeve007
    You said that already.

    Now can you answer the more pertinent/important question: Does adding a suffix or prefix alter Google's ranking of the domain for that keyword search?
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    • Profile picture of the author outwest
      Originally Posted by deeve007 View Post

      You said that already.

      Now can you answer the more pertinent/important question: Does adding a suffix or prefix alter Google's ranking of the domain for that keyword search?
      alter it in comparison to what?
      you are assuming first of all that EMDs have a significant effect on rankings, I and many other board members do not think they do

      There are SO many other factors that affect rankings, and IMO domain name is WAY down there on the list to almost being insignificant

      now you are asking does adding a word before or after the kw phrase affect the ranking. Thats a silly question, All I think adding a word before or after does is allow you to include the kw in the domain name. and I have seen this done to the point of the domain name looking ridiculous

      1discountclothing.com for example

      however I think it makes NO difference in the rankings
      the rankings are determined by Backlinking, PR of backlinks, age and trust factor of the site, internal linking structure. onpage SEO factors, etc etc etc etc etc etc

      I think domain name really has almost nothing to do with rankings
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  • Profile picture of the author reythegaijin
    I think the hyphen (-) is not a good idea. Also don't use the stop words, for domain or keyword. You can find about stop words in wikipedia.
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    • Profile picture of the author eduf
      And what do you think about plurals?

      squareball VS square-ball VS squareballs


      is better to use plural? I've seen on some sites my words in the singular and plural with a difference and also in the search rankings.
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  • Profile picture of the author outwest
    Simply put
    Domain name makes ZERO difference in SEO

    For branding purposes, sure its important and thats why hyphens are not a good idea if that is your goal

    nobody remembers the hyphen
    if you are
    cheap-clothes.com

    people will go type in cheapclothes.com
    so you lose the traffic on typeins
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  • Profile picture of the author deeve007
    Hmm... interesting about the whole domain name making no difference... now I have more to research about to see if that is the case...
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    • Profile picture of the author rcallaby
      Well take Amazon.com for an example domain name. They have obviously millions of backlinks and lots of authority but when you are thinking "book store" do you think of the word Amazon? To start I bet you didn't but because of branding you probably now do.

      Just something to think about.

      Thanks,
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      • Profile picture of the author deeve007
        Originally Posted by rcallaby View Post

        Well take Amazon.com for an example domain name. They have obviously millions of backlinks and lots of authority but when you are thinking "book store" do you think of the word Amazon? To start I bet you didn't but because of branding you probably now do.

        Just something to think about.

        Thanks,
        And that's 100% true when you have the budget to create a "brand". For those who do not, and are relying on organic search results from a far lower amount of backlinks and the like, we do worry about domain name impact.
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  • Profile picture of the author AndyBlackSEO
    My advice is to forgetten about hyphens and just add a stop word to the front of the domain. ie - thebestsoftware.com

    This will remove any emphasis on the word 'the' and place more weight on 'bestsoftware'.

    Others sometimes do quite well by adding a number to the end of the domain.. ie - bestsoftware1.com

    Just my opinion :-)
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  • To all the Hyphen lovers.

    How are you going to BRAND that hypen?

    You think any direct type in URL's are hyphenated.

    Yes flipping words can look silly, but in a lot of cases it makes perfect sense. I've been very sucessful doing it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Curtis2011
    Originally Posted by deeve007 View Post

    Hey folks,

    Wanted to get opinions on best SEO practice for domain names. If the exact name domain isn't available, is second choice better to use a hyphen (eg. firstword-secondword.com) or change the word order (eg. secondwordfirstword.com).

    What say thee?
    Using a hyphen is best. Changing the word order is a pretty bad idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author dagaul101
    I would stick with the hyphen as a changed order is a completely different term
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