Should You Use a Hyphen in a Domain Name?

One of the first things you need to do when setting up a website is to choose a domain name. You might be wondering whether to include a hyphen in your domain name. Here are some of the pros and cons you might want to consider.

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The Impact of Hyphens on SEO

In short, including a hyphen in your domain name will have no effect on SEO rankings. You can’t include spaces in your URL, so if you don’t want to display your domain name as a single word you should include hyphens. Google’s official advice says to use hyphens in your domain name instead of underscores.

The Impact of Hyphens on Usability

Hyphens may not affect SEO rankings, but they do affect user perception of your website.

When Hyphens Look Positive

In some cases inserting a hyphen can make a domain name much more readable. If your domain name could potentially confuse users, you should consider inserting a hyphen in the appropriate place to improve readability.

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When Hyphens Look Negative

Using multiple hyphens in a domain name can make a website seem unprofessional or even suspect. It’s also likely that sticking multiple hyphens in your domain name could make it less readable for your users. This is certainly a case where less is more; if you’re going to use a hyphen, stick to using only one. People aren’t used to reading words that have been hyphenated. Inserting multiple hyphens into your domain name may lead to users misremembering the website address, which could lead to lower overall website traffic. Keep things simple to get as many hits as possible.

How to Buy Domain Name(s)

The best way to protect your brand is to buy a domain name and register both the hyphenated or unhyphenated forms. Registering multiple possible forms of the name will help to protect you from cyber squatters. If you’re confused about how to buy domain name(s), sites such as offer helpful advice.

What If Only the Hyphenated Version Is Available?

If the non-hyphenated version of a domain name has already been registered but the hyphenated version hasn’t, it’s a good idea not to purchase. The similarity between your site and the pre-existing one could lead to confusion for users and possibly even cause potential copyright issues.

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