Should you use hyphens in domain names?
Deciding on a domain name is a crucial step in establishing an online presence. One common question when selecting a domain name is whether or not to include hyphens. Using hyphens in domain names has been a debate among website owners and SEO experts, with arguments on both sides.
We think it is a terrible idea.
Should You Use Hyphens in Domain Names? Pros and Cons
Benefits of Hyphens
Using hyphens in domain names can have some advantages.
As mentioned by WiserBrand, Google treats domain names with and without hyphens equally in terms of SEO value. Search engines recognize hyphens as spaces, which can be useful for distinguishing between different words in a domain name and improving readability.
Moreover, hyphens can sometimes help secure your preferred domain name when unhyphenated alternatives are unavailable. Adding a hyphen might allow you to register a more relevant domain for your business or content.
Drawbacks of Hyphens
Despite the potential benefits, there are several drawbacks to consider when using hyphens in domain names. One notable disadvantage is that hyphens can make domain names harder to remember and impact user recall. Web users are generally more accustomed to domain names without hyphens, as noted in this StackExchange discussion.
In addition, using hyphens may negatively impact your website's perceived professionalism or legitimacy. Some people perceive hyphenated domain names as spammy or of lower quality. Such perceptions can influence user trust and reduce their likelihood of visiting your site.
Another drawback is that hyphenated domain names can be more prone to typographical errors. Users might accidentally visit the non-hyphenated version of your domain, giving the business to a competitor.
Should You Use Hyphens in Domain Names? Weighing Readability, Competition, and User Experience
When considering domain names, one of the primary factors to evaluate is the readability and user experience. Using hyphens in domain names can positively and negatively impact these aspects.
Hyphens can help with the readability of a domain name, mainly when it consists of two or more words. By separating the words with hyphens, users are more likely to understand the domain name and its intended meaning.
For instance, a domain name like “example-name.com” would be clearer than “examplename.com,” where the two words can be difficult to distinguish. Furthermore, search engines like Google interpret hyphens as spaces, making it easier for them to recognize and index the individual words within a URL.
In the context of competition, using hyphens might provide an opportunity to acquire domain names in a crowded market. Many memorable and concise domain names are already taken, and including a hyphen could improve your chances of securing a relevant URL for your website. (Hyphenated domain names are certainly cheaper.)
Hyphens can also negatively impact your domain's user experience and advertising potential. Domain names with hyphens are harder to remember and prone to typos. Users might inadvertently exclude the hyphen or add spacing when typing or sharing the URL. This issue could lead to confusion and prompt visitors to land on a competitor's site with a similar non-hyphenated domain.
Hyphenated domains are perceived as less professional or trustworthy, potentially affecting branding and advertising efforts. Hackers that clone sites frequently use hyphenated domains for phishing exploits to collect login information. Building an image with a hyphenated domain could require investing more time and resources to establish credibility and recognition with users.
For sub-pages and deeper URL structures, hyphenation can also affect readability. Minimizing the use of hyphens in URL structures and sub-pages can improve user experience by reducing the visual complexity of the URL.
While hyphens in domain names might enhance readability in some cases, they can also detract from user experience, memorability, and advertising potential. Avoid getting domain names with hyphens.
It's worth noting that some successful brands, like Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola, incorporate hyphens in their domain names to maintain their trademarked names online. This might be a valid reason to consider hyphens if it applies to your brand.
Should You Use Hyphens in Domain Names? Final Thoughts
So, should you use hyphens in domain names?
There are many different options to explore versus getting a domain name with hyphens. We always suggest finding the best .com domain name you can afford (even if that means going with a premium domain name) that has no hyphens or numbers in it.
Free tools like Namecheap's Business Name Generator use the power of AI to generate relevant business names and domain names as options. Give it a try. It is free.
Business Name Generator
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