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Google analyst clarifies misconceptions around hyphenated domain names

"Hyphenated Domain"
“Hyphenated Domain”

Recently, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, informed Reddit users about the misconceptions surrounding hyphenated domain names. Despite popular belief, hyphenated domain names do not inherently harm SEO. However, their use can present practical setbacks, such as being difficult to remember or leading to typing mistakes.

According to Mueller, around 25 years ago, when SEO was in its infancy, hyphenated domain names were preferred. This was due to Google’s algorithms heavily considering keywords in domain names and URLs. Today, factors like content relevance, backlink quality, and user engagement metrics weigh more heavily in the ranking system.

Initially popular, hyphenated domain names have seen a decline in usage. This is primarily due to their perceived lack of credibility. The shift towards brand-friendly, non-hyphenated domain names was influenced by the need for domain names that are easy to remember, type, and communicate. Furthermore, non-hyphenated domain names are perceived to be more professional and credible, making them the preferred choice for both businesses and individuals.

Despite the role of keyword specificity in modern SEO, businesses tend to avoid hyphenated domain names. The desire to build trust and grow their brands pushes them towards non-hyphenated domain names.

Demystifying SEO: The truth about hyphenated domain names

The transition from hyphenated to non-hyphenated domain names highlights the significance of a domain name as a crucial part of one’s digital identity. The key to success in today’s SEO landscape is focusing on delivering high-quality, relevant content.

In terms of strategy, Mueller advises against relying too heavily on specific keywords when considering domain names. Instead, he emphasizes focusing on overall appeal, memorability, and user-friendliness. Moreover, integrating brand identity into the domain can provide long-term benefits, even though it does not contribute directly to SEO.

Mueller warns against a domain name being too specific, as it may restrict the site’s growth and diversification abilities. The decision to use or avoid hyphens in domain names should be guided by specific context and target audience rather than a general rule. Good content and quality user experience hold more weight than minor SEO factors such as hyphen usage.

Last but not least, Mueller encourages businesses to select a domain name that builds trust, appeals to the audience, and supports site growth. Additionally, he stresses that the domain name should be simple, memorable, and easy to type or search for. Such attributes contribute significantly to a positive user experience and online presence. Avoiding domain names with hyphens, numbers, or unconventional spelling can also aid in maintaining clarity and memorability.

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