Do dashes in domain names work for Google?

During a hangout during Google SEO office hours, John Mueller answered whether it was okay to choose a hyphenated domain name.

He said it was perfectly fine to choose an area like that. But he also said the domain name keywords were overrated.

Keywords in domain names

There is an idea that having keywords in the domain name will help a site rank better.

In the early days of SEO, there was some truth to the value of keywords in domains. Parked domains (keyword-rich domains with no content and only ads) were allowed to rank in search results.

But Google changed that in 2011.

According to a Google blog post that mentioned parked keyword domains:

“This is a new algorithm to automatically detect parked domains. Parked domains are reserved sites with little unique content for our users and are often filled with only advertisements. In most cases, we prefer not to show them.

Some say that when people log into the site, the anchor text in the domain will help. But that’s not really true. When someone links to a domain name that is not considered an anchor text link.

Google’s John Mueller said the following about URLs as anchor text in another hangout:

“…in this situation, we treat this URL as the anchor text.

My understanding is that our systems try to recognize that and say well, it’s just a URL that’s linking, it’s not that there’s a valid anchor here.

So we can count that as a link, but we can’t really use that anchor text for anything in particular.

So from that perspective it’s a normal link but we don’t have any context there.

Is it acceptable to use a hyphenated domain name?

The person asking the question just wants to know if it is acceptable to choose a hyphenated domain name.

They weren’t asking if there was a ranking advantage. But Google’s John Mueller also talks about it.

The question:

“Is it acceptable to choose a domain name with two dashes?

Or is a hyphen better or should hyphens be completely avoided? »

Google’s John Mueller replied:

“Up to you.

Everything you think makes sense.

Some websites have hyphens, some don’t.

Google’s algorithm does not search for hyphens

Mueller then mentioned that to his knowledge, Google’s algorithm does not check whether or not a domain name contains a hyphen.

Mueller commented on the hyphens and the algorithm:

“I don’t think anything in our algorithms specifically looks for hyphens in domain names.”

Test domain names with dashes

Google’s John Mueller goes on to say that the practice of adding keywords to domains is overrated.

This may be the case for classification purposes.

But in terms of conversions, you might want to experiment a bit to see if more people convert on a domain that contains keywords than a branded domain that doesn’t contain the keyword.

As for a domain name containing hyphens, like anything else, test it with people who might be interested in a specific type of site to see what their perception of hyphenated domain names is. ‘union.

Hyphens can be said to make a domain name look sticky and spammy. But that may not be the perception of site visitors across the board.

Keywords in domains are overrated

Here is what John Mueller said:

“The aspect of just putting keywords in the domain name, I think that’s a bit overstated in the sense that…I don’t know…our search algorithms are trying to figure out the quality and relevance of a website as a whole.

And the domain name is not really the strongest factor.

So that’s something… If you’re trying to move to a domain and just add some keywords to it, I suspect the whole move to a new part of domain will be a lot more complicated and may cause more problems than not. whatever value you would get. just have an additional keyword in the domain.

So I would try to avoid doing that.

But again, it’s not related to hyphens or anything like that.

It’s really like, should I add a keyword in my domain name or not? »

Should you 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 and the perception that hyphens make a site look spammy.

But sometimes you should never overestimate what site visitors think about something. Sometimes what people accept can be surprising.

Is there an advantage to hyphenated domain names? When was the last time you saw a hyphenated domain name ranking?


Read the article from Google stating that they downgraded parked domains:
Search Quality Highlights: New Monthly Series on Algorithm Changes

Should hyphens be avoided in domain names?
Watch John Mueller answer the question at minute 41:30

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