In a hangout on Google SEO office hours, John Mueller answered whether it is okay to choose a hyphenated domain name. He replied that it is perfectly fine to choose a domain like that. But he also said that keywords in the domain name are overrated.
Keywords in domain names
There is an idea that having keywords in the domain name will help a website get better.
In the early days of SEO, there was something true about the value of keywords in the domains. Parked domains (keyword-rich domains without content and ads only) were allowed to rank in the search results.
But Google changed that in 2011.
According to a Google blog post that mentioned parked keyword domains:
“This is a new algorithm for automatically registering parked domains. Parked domains are placeholder sites with some unique content for our users and are often filled only with ads. In most cases, we prefer not to show them. ”
Some say that when people link to the site, the anchor text in the domain will help. But that’s not really true. When someone links to a domain name that does not count as an anchor text link.
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Google’s John Mueller said the following about URLs as anchor text in another hangout:
“… in that situation, we treat this URL as the anchor text.
From what I understand, our systems are trying to recognize this and say well, this is just a URL that is linked, it is not that there is a valuable anchor here.
So we can consider this as a link, but we can not really use that anchor text for anything special.
So from this point of view, it is a normal link, but we have no connection there. ”
Is it okay to use a hyphenated domain name?
The person asking the question just wants to know if it is okay to choose a hyphenated domain name.
They did not ask if there is a rank advantage. But Google’s John Mueller also discusses it.
Is it okay to choose a domain name with two hyphens?
Or is a hyphen better, or should hyphens be avoided altogether? ”
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Google’s John Mueller replied:
“Up to you.
Whatever you think makes sense.
Some sites have hyphens, others do not. ”
Google’s algorithm does not look for hyphens
Mueller then mentioned that as far as he knows, Google’s algorithm is not looking for whether a domain name has a hyphen in it or not.
Mueller commented on hyphens and the algorithm:
“I do not think anything in our algorithms specifically looks like hyphens in domain names.”
Test domain names with hyphens
Google’s John Mueller follows up by saying that the process of adding keywords in domains is overrated.
This may be the case for ranking purposes.
But when it comes to conversions, you might want to experiment a bit to see if more people are converting to a domain with keywords in them than a branded domain that does not contain the keyword.
As far as a domain name with hyphens in it, like everything else, test it with people who are likely to be interested in a particular type of site to see what their perception is of hyphenated domain names.
There is no doubt that hyphens make a domain name look sticky and spammy. But that may not be the perception of visitors across the board.
Keywords in domains are overrated
Here’s what John Mueller said:
“The aspect of just putting keywords in the domain name, I think, is a bit overrated in the sense that … I do not know … our search algorithms try to understand the quality and relevance of a site in general.
And the domain name is not really the strongest factor there.
So it’s something … If you try to move to a domain and just add keywords in there, my guess is that the whole move to a new domain part will be much more complicated can cause more problems than any value you would get out of just having a keyword extra in the domain.
So I would try to avoid doing that.
But again, this is not related to hyphens or anything like that.
It’s really like, should I add a keyword to my domain name or not? ”
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Need to use hyphenated domain names?
Hyphenated domain names were an old school tactic that fell out of favor many years ago because there was no ranking advantage to it, and the notion that hyphens made a site look spammy.
But sometimes one should never overestimate how visitors experience something by something. Sometimes what people are okay with can be surprising.
Is there a benefit to hyphenated domain names? When was the last time you saw a ranked hyphen with a domain?
Read the Google article and note that the downgraded parked domains:
Search Quality Highlights: New monthly series on algorithm changes
Should hyphens in domain names be avoided?
Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 41:30 minute mark