Hyphenated Domain Names

A lot of confusion persists around the internet over hyphenated domain names. A hyphenated domain name is any domain name containing one or more hyphens: - (also incorrectly called a dash). For example: www.example-web-site.com is a hyphenated domain name.

A hyphenated domain name provides some advantages:

  • Easy to distinguish words in a domain name
  • Eliminates potentially embarrassing confusion (is it www.GoodsExporter.com or www.GoodSexPorter.com?)
  • Search engines can distinguish every word in the domain name, giving a very small advantage in search engine rankings
  • When other websites link to yours using your domain name as the anchor text, the search engines can distinguish the words in this link, giving a slightly greater advantage in search engine rankings
  • The domain name you want has a better chance of being available with hyphens; most webmasters prefer a non-hyphenated domain name over its equivalent hyphenated domain name

A hyphenated domain name also has many disadvantages:

  • The domain name because tricky to recall; most people will remember a domain name without the hyphens better than one with hyphens
  • The domain name arguably looks more professional as a single word rather than separated by hyphens
  • The domain name is easier to type when it does not contain hyphens
  • If another website has the same domain name sans hyphens, it will likely receive many visitors who inadvertently mistyped your domain name
  • When speaking the domain name, voicing hyphens becomes a challenge; “my-hyphen-online-hyphen-store-dot-com” becomes a tongue-twister that is likely to confuse
  • When somebody else refers to your domain name, either on the web or off, there is a strong possibility they will unwittingly omit the hyphens, driving your potential traffic to a different website

Whether you choose a hyphenated or a non-hyphenated domain name will, of course, depend on the circumstances of your website. My recommendation is to choose the non-hyphenated domain name if at all possible, and only go with a hyphenated version if you cannot find a suitable hyphenless domain name.