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Both in terms of SEO and user friendliness, is it better to put hyphens in a multi-words domain name or not ?

For example, is www.stackoverflow.com better than www.stack-overflow.com ?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 24 down vote accepted

I would avoid hyphens in the domain name. While they are useful in the path for a file or post, they add unneeded noise to the domain itself. Imagine having to spell it out for someone..."stack dash overflow dot com" just doesn't sound right.

On the other hand, there are likely some domains where a well-placed hyphen would be beneficial. For example: expertsexchange can be read as expert sex change. A hyphen would make a big difference: experts-exchange.

In the end, it's up to you, but my instinct is to avoid hyphens in a domain name.

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+1: totally agree! –  Marco Demaio Aug 11 '10 at 11:20
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Another good one: whorepresents.com –  John Conde Nov 30 '10 at 21:38
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Pen Island dot net is another URL that do with a well placed hypen... –  John Catterfeld May 7 '11 at 19:16

Domain name: No. (It’s not normal and is harder to remember. However, preference is okay. It doesn’t affect ranking.)

For example,

http://webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/410/is-it-better-to-put-hyphens-in-a-domain-name

File Location in URL: Yes. (It’s easier for people to read.)

For example,

http: //webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/410/is-it-better-to-put-hyphens-in-a-domain-name

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Depends on your user-base: In Germany everyone would expect hyphens in domain names. In the English-speaking world you should probably avoid them:

  1. Nobody expects them there and mistypes
  2. There is no real right way to pronounce it.

On SEO perspective it doesn't matter. Both names rank the same.

And of course in doubt you should purchase both. Every user gets to the right site.

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Just don't forget to use some URL Rewriter to ensure that they all redirect to the same preferred domain, that way "every user gets to the right site" including search engines. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jul 9 '10 at 7:33
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Definitely. And use 301 redirects to ensure that the page rank is handed over the preferred domain name. –  neo Jul 9 '10 at 7:43
    
And if you have multiple domains mapped to the same document root and are using mod_rewrite to redirect, make sure that you include the redirect in each .htaccess file which has rewrite rules. I ended up with duplicates once because I expected the redirect to cascade. I've learned my lesson since and separated the domains into separate document roots. And if the sites are both answering from the same you are using mod-rewrite via .htaccess files at different levels in your site hierarchy, make sure that you add the –  JasonBirch Jul 9 '10 at 7:53
    
It's probably time that has changed this, but it's worth noting that of Alexa's top 100 sites in Germany only 2 actually contain a hyphen in the domain. –  Andrew Lott Jan 30 at 12:02

SEO value is not affected by dashes - the search engines ignore them.

But from a user perspective, dashes can make a domain look spammy. Many spammy, exact-match domains have used dashes so they have sort of "poisoned the well".

From Moz.com:

Top Tips
- Word Separators: Avoid hyphens. Hyphens detract from credibility and can act as a spam indicator.

If the domain name looks and reads okay without dashes, then I would leave them out.

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