Names - To Hyphen or Not ?
Domain Names - To Hyphen or Not ?
A question in internet marketing often comes up regarding
the use of hyphens in a domain name. Here are a few considerations
when planning your sight.
When being interviewed for a local radio show, invariably the host
will entertain questions from the listening audience. Most of the
time, the host will plug your book, your product, your event or
your cause. Many times a website or url is associated with this.
Spouting off a long url will annoy hosts and producers everywhere
not to mention scrambling audiences trying to record what you are
saying. If you have a hyphenated url make sure you are clear as
to the hyphen being included and don't make the url too long. Bill
Clinton hyphen my life. Com (www.billclinton-mylife.com) is short
enough that the hyphen can be used, can be emphasized with no traffic
Using the above example, it is also wise to reverse the wording
before and after the hyphen. Listeners, readers and browsers think
what they want in the order that they want. In the example above,
might be remembered by your reader as www.mylife-billclinton.com
<http://www.mylife-billclinton.com/> . When purchasing domain
names it is wise to purchase both just to assure your targeted traffic.
People make up urls when searching the internet. Stream of consciousness
enters the browsers mind. In other words they they type what they
are thinking at the time. If a browser is looking for The Davinci
Code book they may make up their own url for searching purposes
and type in www.thedavinci-code.com <http://www.thedavinci-code.com/>
. In this case they inserted a hyphen after what they think a main
phrase is regarding the searched subject. While this type of traffic
is low compared to the primary url without the hyphens, the hyphens
assures the capture of intended traffic. With the cost of domain
names today, buying variations of your domain is considered inexpensive
Url's without hyphens do look more professional. Hyphens are typically
ok in certain contexts but when you start stringing them out with
more than three words or three phrases it can get cumbersome. And
we all know the attention span of an internet browser. Hyphenated
domain names work with targeted key word campaigns and search engine
spiders. If that is the purpose of the sight or domain then the
hyphens are fine. If your marketing intention is to create a brand,
a remembered domain name, top of mind awareness with the domain
then hyphenless domains work best.
Many times it doesn't matter what a domain name is if you are promoting
it with links, and offline promotion. If I have on the back of my
business card, visit www.billclinton-mylife.com <http://www.billclinton-mylife.com/>
then someone who is interested in Clinton's autobiography will literally
read my card and type the name into a browser because I suggested
it to them. This is with or without the hyphens. If I printed on
the back of my card, visit www.hyphen-hyphen-hyphen.com <http://www.hyphen-hyphen-hyphen.com/>
then if there was interested this suggestion would guide the browser.
As these directed domains show up in offline marketing pieces and
promotion, hyphens don't matter.
When it comes to underscores, many times the general public will
interpret them as hyphens. Since hyphenated domain names are becoming
more and more common that is the general notion of the average browser.
Underscores also can get lost when a url or domain is underlined
as many hyperlink commands do in word processor software programs.
The general rule of thumb is to not use hyphens between words if
possible. A domain name with hyphens is harder to describe when
said aloud as in our radio commercial. It is commonly accepted that
a domain name with multiple words does not include hyphens. But
there are exceptions to the rule. With some popular domain names
not being available, sometimes a hyphenated url will be and will
Another reason to use hyphenated domain names is when two words
joined together like in a domain name could imply or even state
a different meaning or unintentional phrases. The following is an
example: <http://www.basketballshopping.com/> www.basketballshopping.com
could be read as basketball shopping or basketballs hopping, two
completely different thoughts and contexts. Avoid confusing phrases
altogether or use hyphens to separate the words.
It all boils down to what your purpose is with your domain name,
website and how you will market it to those interested. Interested
parties like to be marketed to and told where to look; uninterested
parties will ignore your domain with or without hyphens.
About the Author
Al Lautenslager is a
certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach and the co-author with Jay Conrad
Levinson, the father of Guerrilla Marketing, of the next book in
the guerrilla marketing series, entitled, "Guerrilla Marketing
in 30 Days." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or through the website: http://www.guerrillamarketingin30days.com