Yes, I know the title of this post sounds harsh: should you use a dash or a hyphen in a domain name? But to be honest with you, that is my conclusion now that I have seen this. It’s solid proof that the right keyword rich domain name will out-rank a hyphenated domain name in the search results every time. Don’t use a Hyphen in Domain Name, here’s proof of that.
silktide did an SEO challenge where they used 3 different domain names and web sites and saw if nonsensical content or real keyword rich content would rank better. They used three different domain names:
— frictionlessowls.com – site had content rich with relevant keywords.
— www.frictionlessowls.co.uk – site had a few pages of unique content.
— frictionless-owls.com – site with machine-generated nonsensical content.
Once the SEO challenge was over, they wanted to see if it was the nonsensical content that Google didn’t like or if it was the keyword rich domain name that Google liked more. So, they moved the nonsensical content over to the keyword rich domain name. And when all was said and done, even though the site has nonsensical content on it, the site ranked because of the keyword rich domain name.
What this test proves is that Google is biased towards having a hyphen in domain name–Google does not like them. Or, at least when it comes to hyphenated domain names versus non-hyphenated domain names, Google prefers the non-hyphenated domain name.
This also totally blows some SEO conspiracy-theorists’ views of the Exact Match Domain update out of the water. In fact, it has been my theory all along that the EMD Update was more about commercial phrases than domain names. It just so happens that keyword rich domain names are highly sought-after, and there is “value” in a keyword rich domain name because of the number of searches per month for that keyword and the average CPC (Cost Per Click) on Google AdWords for that keyword. Therefore, Google targeted commercial phrases in that update, and NOT keyword rich domain names.
The EMD Update should have been called the “Commercial Phrase Update”. But it was not, for political reasons. Could you imagine if Google had called that update the “Commercial Phrase Update”? We would be all screaming loudly–because Google did that because they wanted us to pay more on Google AdWords. But I digress.
From now on, I am not recommending use of a keyword rich hyphenated domain name for a website, you’ll end up being out-ranked just about every time if you try to rank well for that main keyword. I say “just about every time” only because I know there are going to be exceptions to every rule.
I have a few keyword rich domain names for sale. Want to buy them? Oh yeah, by the way. I should point out that they have hyphens in them.