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Choosing Domain Names – Hyphens or Not?


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Choosing a good domain name is one of most important steps in setting up your online business, but it’s getting harder and harder to find good names that are still available. You could use a domain name with hyphens, but is that really a good idea?

Let’s quickly review what makes a good domain name. A domain name needs to be relevant, easy to remember, keyword optimized, and free from trademark conflicts. It should also be shorter. Although seven characters or less is ideal, you may have to settle for a domain name that’s a little longer.

So you’ve just set up your new barbecue grills business and now you discover that is already taken. Should you consider hyphenating the domain name to or should you go back to the drawing board?

The first choice should always be to take the name without a hyphen. Having established that, there are some exceptions. Let’s look at hyphenated domain names and when they are might be good to use.

Domains with hyphens can sometimes be a good idea if you really want certain words in your domain name but all the domains without hyphens are already taken.

Another reason to use a hyphen is when the words you plan to use are harder to read without the hyphen. The domain is harder to read than That is not necessarily a great domain name but it does serve to illustrate the point that some domains are easier to read with a hyphen.

You might also consider using hyphens for search engine optimization. Some people suggest that using hyphens helps the search engines to distinguish your keywords better. This may be a good option for webmasters whose primary goal is to optimize their sites for traffic from natural search engine rankings. The only catch here is that this could change over time since search engines are constantly adjusting their search algorithms.

Incidentally, if you decide not to use hyphens in your domain name, watch out for any unintended double meanings that might be embarrassing. To illustrate this point a couple of fairly suspicious domain names are and In case you are wondering the latter was reportedly the domain for the Mole Station Native Nursery based in New South Wales, Australia, although it seems, fortunately, to have moved.

Whatever reason you have for using a hyphen in your domain name, it would be good to remember one thing. Some people will forget the hyphen when they type your domain name. So whenever you invest in promoting your site, some lucky webmaster who owns the un-hyphenated version of your domain is going to get some free traffic, courtesy of your hard work.

As you can see, there are some situations when using a hyphen in your domain name may be a good decision.

Daniel Moro has been successfully building online businesses for ten years. Download your free report on ‘10 Remarkably Effective Traffic Building Techniques’ at


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