To Hyphen or Not To Hyphen Domain Names for SEO

Domain extensions popping out of a box

Hyphens in Domain Names

I got this question recently about whether it is better for SEO to use a domain name with hyphens ( or without hyphens ( when doing SEO.

Let’s say that we are optimizing for the phrase “Internet Hero”.

I know that Google recognizes both and to contain the keyword phrase “internet hero” so you don’t need the hyphens to get ranked.

On the other hand hyphens and especially more than one hyphen looks spammy and most people will remember “internet hero” and type in regardless if your domain actually is or

That’s why I recommend going for a dot com without hyphens. It’s easy to remember, it looks professional and it works as well for SEO as one with hyphens.

But lets say that you’re only goal is to optimize the site for a particular keyword and is already taken. Can you use instead? Will it be as good for SEO?

Apart from the fact that you will lose traffic to and they might sue you for trademark infringement if you’re in the same business here how it works for SEO:

This is an article by Olivier Duffez where he tested the difference between hyphens and underscores.

As you’ll see from the article, you can use hyphens but NOT underscores to build keyphrases in URLs and domain names.

In this article at Guru of Search the author debunks the myth about hyphens being bad for SEO. Do we believe him?

Here’s one quote from a comment by Aron Wall on his SEO Book blog:

“The domain name boost does not count for, but if you have no hyphens it counts. You get a lot of algorithmic reward for exact match one word, decent reward for two, and a bit less for three.”

If Aron is right it means will get an algorithmic boost by Google for the keyword phrease “internet hero” while will not get the boost.

I think I’ll just trust Aaron with this one and make sure I register domain names without hyphen when using keywords in the domain name.

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3 Responses to “To Hyphen or Not To Hyphen Domain Names for SEO”

  1. the seo experts know better (but they often make educated Guesses themselves) the problem is obviously with finding a decent non hyphened name to use, and i would also think that with the number of bookmarks we all use nowadays, and social bookmark services that we access on the go, remembering Exact site names is becoming less of a factor over time.

  2. I couldn’t agree more, but I will say I was working for a company in Connecticut that specialized in building and maintaining traffic to sites. They definitely used hyphens in some of their domains but avoided it if they could. They got paid only on conversions and doing very well at it I would say. Then again they were paying for a lot of links as well, SEO is such a broad field, so many aspects to take into consideration…

  3. This is, I feel, an ongoing debate and I have used hyphens for a number of clients in their URLs with great success.
    Using hyphens can work when using the domain for am external Blog to compliment the website URL.
    The only problem I see is that telling someone your URL can be lengthy & awkward if it has hyphens…..!

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