John Mueller Discusses Hyphenated Domain Names
A website SEO analysis allows an online business to find areas of improvement in both their site and SEO strategy. Checking visibility on Google, identifying pages to optimise, and even choosing the domain name are some of the tasks involved in SEO analysis. Recently, an SEO asked Google’s John Mueller in a Google SEO office-hours hangout if it is acceptable to include hyphens in their domain.
Mueller said that it is perfectly fine to choose a hyphenated domain. He also touched lightly on the subject of domain names containing keywords.
Is It Okay To Use A Hyphenated Domain Name?
The person who asked the question was not expecting any ranking advantages. They simply wanted to know if it was okay to choose a hyphenated domain name for their website.
Mueller said that it is up to the site owner what they think is best. His answer implied that anyone could choose whether they want a domain with a hyphen or not, and it would not have any effect on rankings either way.
Next, he mentioned that Google’s algorithm system does not care whether or not a domain name contains hyphens or not.
Test Domain Names With Hyphens
In terms of conversions, SEOs can experiment a bit and observe whether their site visitors would convert on a domain name with hyphens. Like any part of the website, Mueller encourages everyone to see hyphenated domain names from their site visitors’ perspective.
Most often than not, people perceive hyphenated domain names as tacky and spammy, but some site visitors may think otherwise.
After talking about hyphenated domain names, Mueller backed up his statement by explaining how the practice of placing keywords in domains is overrated.
The Practice Of Using Keywords In Domain Names
In the past, the whole SEO community had the idea that using domain names with keywords would help their website rank better. Back then, this tactic had some merit as there was value in domains that had keywords. Google even allowed parked domains in the search engine results pages (SERPs), even though these only contained advertisements and keywords and little to no actual content. However, all of this changed in 2011.
In a blog post, Google discussed parked keyword domains, saying that their algorithm can automatically detect them. As these are placeholder sites with very little relevant content for users, the search engine company prefers to remove them from the SERPs in most cases.
Some in the SEO community say that the anchor text in the domain helps when people link to the site. However, this isn’t really the case. According to Mueller in a different hangout, Google’s system treats the URL as the anchor text. Therefore, when they recognise the link, they perceive it as a normal URL that’s linked and not as valuable anchor text. The same applies when linking with a domain name.
Keywords In Domains Are Overrated
According to Mueller, their search algorithms try to understand the relevance and quality of a site overall. Truth be told, domain names are not the most decisive factor that the system looks at.
If an online business wanted a domain with keywords, they would have to migrate to a new domain and add their chosen keywords. The whole process of moving to a new domain can cause a host of complex and unnecessary issues – all because they wanted a domain with an extra keyword in it. Mueller advised SEOs to simply avoid doing this as it is simply not worth the risk.
Domains with keywords are not relevant to hyphenated domains, but they are similar to each other. Mueller said that it is more about asking oneself if they should change their domain name for the sake of a keyword or a hyphen.
Should One Use Hyphenated Domain Names?
Using hyphenated domain names is an old school tactic that does not give any ranking benefit in today’s SEO industry. Moreover, they can give the impression of a spammy website. However, one should never overestimate how their site visitors feel about certain things. Sometimes, it could be surprising to know that people are okay with hyphenated domains.
The Best Tips On Choosing A Domain For SEO
Domain names should be easy to type and read in print format, so it makes sense to avoid long, technical domains as these could confuse users. Keeping the domain name short allows one to use it in different items like t-shirts, stationery, mugs, email, and so on. Moreover, businesses must avoid using slang and any other overly complex words in their domain name.
Domain names should also be unique and brandable so that a website can stand out in its users’ minds. It’s generally a good idea to look at other sites in the same niche and analyse their domain names. By doing so, businesses can avoid accidentally using trademark names or getting accused of copying other publishers.
One should also avoid using numbers, as they are associated with spammy domains. Domains that are active in creating spammy content do not want to associate themselves with their main company site domains. Therefore, they do everything they can to set themselves apart, and that’s why they add numbers – sometimes, even hyphens.
Domain names should be memorable – site visitors should remember how it looks, sounds, and feels when they type it on their address bar. One should also create a great-sounding domain name that looks great and feels great to type so people would remember it.
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