I'm purchasing a domain for a new blog, and wonder which structure is better for domain name. I have these two options (domain changed to ensure it doesn't get swiped away from me!):

  • stackexchange.com
  • stack-exchange.org (where the .com and .net are already registered and used by another website).

Does one domain name give me any sort of SEO advantage over the other?

4 Answers 4


This question has a lot of good answers at the startup stackexchange site. http://answers.onstartups.com/questions/3822/domain-names-with-a-hyphen-good-or-bad-idea Here are the highlights

[If you go with one word,] you better make sure your "one word" name does not have possible bad connotations without the hyphens. e.g. www.experts-exchange.com would be VERY bad as one word: www.expertsexchange.com because some people would see: "Expert Sex Change".

Search engines really really really like to see keywords in domain names. It's probably more valuable to rank higher in search results than to eliminate a hyphen.

I used to own the domain name Webmaster-Resources.com . WINDOWS Magazine, which had 1 million subscribers at the time did a full-page write-up. They left out the hyphen. Ouch!

[A hyphenated name] conveys inferiority (especially to the site w/o the hyphen in their domain) in that you accepted a hand me down domain. In addition it confuses users as to if your site is affiliated with the hyphen-less site. It looks junky and spammy. When I see sites like las-vegas-info-site.com or dot-net-developer-tips.com I think spam site. As a matter of fact the more hyphens in the domain the more it subconsciously conveys "spam" and "avoid site" to the human brain (mine anyways, by an exponential factor).

Overall, the advice was to spend more time finding a memorable, spell-able, brand-able name, than worrying about whether or not you put a hyphen in it.


Search engines will appreciate both names equally.

What will get you the most ranking is when people link to your site, so I would choose the name based on which is easier to write and less error prone.

Which one depends on the particular domain. Some people advise not to use hyphens because you have to specify them when saying your domain to someone.


No Difference in SEO with or without Hyphens

There is no advantage other than the fact domains without hyphens are easier to remember, but you should reconsider buying an exact keyword domain, see paragraph below.

EMDS are not as good as they used to be

You are better of using a branding domain rather than targeting keywords in the domain itself. Google does not reward EMD 'Exact Keyword Domain' sites any more than branded sites this is because Google wants people to believe in branding, cool site names and so forth. In fact many are reporting negative effects when registering longer EMD's.

So your better of using a short domain that people can remember! and then using your keywords in a URL.

For example: JiggyBands.com/list-of-atlantic-city-bands/

For more information

  1. Best Strategy for exact domain EMD along side Branded Domains
  2. Google EMD Update Research and Thoughts
  3. Search Engine Land All EMD Posts
  4. Your Guide to Google's EMD Algorithm Update
  5. Google's EMD Algo Update, Early Data...

Google's web spam team

With the aggression shown by Google's Web Spam Team I imagine many more EMD updates to come and specially I believe that newly registered domains will be the most hit by such updates.


Regarding SEO, I don't think there is any advantage for one or another. Indeed, Google can detect easily various words in URL even if these words aren't separated by hyphen.

However, if I were you, I would choose the first one (with hyphens) and I would register all TLDs I can (.com, .org, .biz, .net, .info and your country code top-level domain at least but it depends on your budget).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.