Hyphens In Domain Names

Published: 22nd March 2011
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Using a hyphen (a dash) in a domain name is still a hotly debated topic and whether you should select a hyphenated domain really just depends on your specific situation.

Much of the information available in relation to the hyphen issue is usually biased toward a particular side of the argument. The following is some basic information that looks at both sides - the advantages and disadvantages of using domain names with dashes.

* Advantages of hyphenated domain names
A.com domain name comprised of generic terms (common words) is more likely to be available in a hyphenated version, and the same goes for many country code top level domains (CCTLDs) such as .com.au.

Some believe there are also search engine optimization benefits with a hyphenated name. While that may have been the case a few years ago, search engines are now quite adept in ascertaining separate words in a domain name and links; so it's not such a burning issue. Still, as it can certainly help in your search rankings to choose a name very relevant to your topic or industry, it certainly won't hurt.

The use of a dash can avoid a "slurl" situation - this is where two words put together without some sort of gap can also create different sets of words than intended, depending on how the domain name is read. Sometimes those words can be unflattering to say the least and in the past some registrants have wound up needing to register a different name due to the fallout.

* Disadvantages of hyphens
A hyphen adds an extra character to the domain name - when it comes to names, the shorter, the better.

The presence of a hyphen can create problems with recall as people are mostly used to domains without a dash being used. On a related note, a hyphen makes it more challenging to advertise on radio and also via word of mouth.

If you're using generic terms with view to selling the domain name at a later date, a hyphenated name will have far less value than one without a hyphen.

* Cover your bases
If you're not sure which way to go as both versions are available, register both. Use the non-hyphenated version as your primary name (for some of the reasons mentioned above) and point the hyphenated one to the primary name. By grabbing both versions, it can also help deter cybersquatters who may seek to cause confusion by drawing away traffic from your site or damage to your brand in the future.

* How many hyphens?
If you decide to take the hyphenated route, try to register a name with as few hyphens as possible; preferably less than three and there should be no double-dashes used. The reason for this is a domain with many hyphens gives the name a "spammy" look.

Michael is a consultant for Domain Names Australia, who offer a free domain name registration for 2 years with each 12 month website hosting package. You can select a .com.au or any other .au extension, along with generic domains such as .com, .net, .org, .biz and .info.



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