SEO Research – dashes in domain names?

by keif on July 29, 2008

A coworker and I were discussing whether or not dashes are applicable in domain names – from earlier research, it seems Google has some specific issues when it comes to dashes “-” and underscores “_”.

ikeif_blog is the same as ikeifblog (note the _underscore_!)

That’s not going to do me any SEO favors. The fix is easy enough, fortunately, and luckily WordPress does this by default!

ikeif-blog is read as ikeif blog! (note the -dashes-!)

This includes your file names, image file names, page names, etc.

Why the _underscore_?

Our friend the _underscore_ is left over from earlier coding days and *nix systems. From what I’ve been able to gather, it’s not a space is because of programming functions like mysql_affected_rows in PHP, and many older C functions, pre Hungarian notation.

It just translated to the web as an extension of such. That and it kind of makes sense – keith_baker is more like keith baker visually, and keith-baker is like keithbaker. Got that? Google decided that -dashes- were more SEO friendly, and because Google is “the big one” we’re stuck following their obscure rules, and I’m forced (forced!) to research them ;). Is there a grammar lesson in there? May be!

What about periods?

Now we’re down to talking about keywords, and this could be beneficial to stores – yoga-pants.myyogastore.com is better than myyogastore.com – but the debate is open if yogastore.com/yoga-pants is a better alternative still!

The only danger in this,is you don’t want a convuluted or crowded domain name – then it starts to look spammy. Imagine if my domain was ikeif-blog-seo-mootools-jquery-nigerian-scams.com? We also start to make it a difficult site to remember! However, if you like owning domains, it might be possible to benefit from the keyword rich domain and include a 301-redirect to your actual site (if you have more detail, pass it on!)

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