Much talk can be had in regards to buying domain names with hyphens or dashes.
The don’t ever buy a domain with a hyphen camp…
There is the camp that is totally against it as if buying domains with hyphens is the unforgivable sin.
If a hyphenated or dashed domain were the last domain name on earth to use, they wouldn’t dare think of buying and surely not using such a domain name.
The use of hyphens is like breathing camp…
Then there are those that fall into the camp of not blinking an eye at buying and using domain names with hyphens.
This camp of folk buy and use hyphenated domain names even when the non-hyphenated domains are available for purchase.
The hit or miss hyphen camp…
Then you have those in the middle that, depending on the day and hour you catch them, are a hit or miss on buying and using domain names with hyphens.
This crowd tends to base their decision to buy and use domain names with hyphens much like flipping a coin.
They don’t necessarily have a method to their madness for buying or not buying, and using dashed domain names.
Which camp do you best relate with, and, more importantly, which camp will stand the test of time?
But no matter the camp you find yourself in, I think it is safe to say that buying and using domains with hyphens is nothing new under the sun in the world of the Internet.
There will always be a market for selling and buying domain names with hyphens.
But before you scurry off into the deep abyss of buying hyphenated domain names, I’d like to share with you some thoughts on why and when to consider buying and using domains with hyphens.
When non-hyphenated domain names are unavailable and not developed
No matter what industry you find yourself in, there is always the chance that the perfect domain for your business is taken in the .com and .net extensions.
Many times end users in pursuit of such valuable premium domain names will either choose another domain name altogether, add a verb at the beginning, alter the spelling of the domain name or and words to the ending.
These are all good ideas, but in the case of a non-dashed domain name that is unavailable to be purchased and is not developed, domain names with hyphens are your second best choice.
Personally, I draw the limit or place a maximum on the number of words I would hyphenate.
For example, I purchased Austin-Foreclosures.com when AustinForeclosures.com was unavailable. In contrast, I wouldn’t buy or use Buy-Social-Media-Traffic.com just because BuySocialMediaTraffic.com is unavailable.
In my opinion, you never want to hyphenate more that 2 words, if any, when buying and using domain names.
Domain names with hyphens are great for competitive industries
If your market or industry is competitive in the online space, then buying and using domain names with hyphens might be what the doctor ordered to boost your business’ search rankings.
In a highly-competitive local market where there are numerous businesses and not enough quality domain names to go around for everyone, hyphenated domain names can work wonders for increasing search rankings and website traffic.
.com and .net domain names with hyphens are always better to use than .co, .me, .info and any other domain name extension. If you can’t purchase the hyphenated .com or .net, then it’s time to start looking at other keywords.
In addition, if you find yourself solely focused on domains with more than 2 keywords, also known as exact match domains, then you are more than likely headed towards the slippery SEO slope of gaming search engines, which can be costly in the long run.
This does not mean that exact match domains are bad to use, but what I am saying is that solely focusing on using a domain, and not providing high-quality content and user experience, for the purpose of ranking in search engines is deceptive SEO.
So be sure your intent is to provide users with unique, high-quality content and user experience first, focusing on search engines last. But I digress.
Hyphenated domain names look great used in advertisements
Of course, and this can be debated until the cows come home, domain names with hyphens look great and are more easy to read in advertisements than their counterparts.
Domain names with hyphens look great on billboards, bumpstickers, t-shirts, vehicles and etc. They also make domain names containing more than one word easier to read and remember.
Now the downside to using hyphens in domain names is that people forget to type in the hyphens and you lose your website traffic to the non-hyphenated domain name.
But if you keep or limit your use of hyphens to no more than 2, then this should help to decrease the chances of losing traffic to the non-hyphenated version.
Hyphenated domain names give meaning to two word or more domain names
Hyphens work perfect when buying and using domain names with letter and words that could be interpreted or be seen as a word within words.
A great example is the domain name penisland.com. This domain could be seen or interpreted as PenisLand.com, and be considered an adult domain when in fact it is PenIsland.com
Placing hyphens in domain names, such as Pen-Island.com, help to split up the words and give the domain name greater meaning.
Why and when you should not use domain names with hyphens
Matter of fact, don’t use a domain at all as you are wasting your time buying domain names altogether for the sake of creating low quality websites for an almighty dollar.
The web doesn’t need one more made for adsense website, minisite, buffer site or whatever the flavor-of-the-month website term is currently. Stop gaming search engines with spun articles and useless content, and start providing a user experience and content that would make your grandmother happy.
Too many times I see people try to game search engines in hopes of outranking the non-hyphenated versions of their domain name. They tend to add word and hyphen after one another until the keyword-laden domain name doesn’t make sense at all. All for the sake of trying to rank and make a quick dollar.
As luck would have it, the search engine exact match update from Google penalizes those who are bent on gaming search engines with useless content developed on a keyword or exact match domain.
I personally think this is great because I’m tired of people using exact match domains, hyphenated or not, and not making and taking the time to develop high-quality content and user experience. But I digress.
My point about keyword-laden domain names and using hyphens is that search engines view hyphenated domain names containing more than two words as spam.
Search engines don’t actually view such domain names as spam, but domain names with hyphens tend to be used by spammers.
Because of this trend to deceptively use dashed domain names to game search engines and the emd update, one has to be extra careful when buying and using dashed domain names to develop their website.
Don’t hype your hyphen or dash your domain name dreams
Don’t let me be the Debbie-downer that holds you back from using domain names with hyphens. Too, don’t let me hype you up with over the top claims of why you should use domain names with hyphens.
I hope this post in its entirety keeps you honest and keeps you from heading down the path of using deceptive SEO practices, using keyword-laden domain names with hyphens, for the sake of garnering search rankings and traffic.
Domain names with hyphens, as with all things in life, have their place and moment when they should be used.
However, I think one should weigh their motive as well as consider the pros and cons of hyphenated domain names when faced with the decision to develop their website using domain names with hyphens.
Use your wisdom and best judgement when considering domain names with hyphens, and I’m sure you’ll make the right decision for your business, both short and long term.