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Google expert clarifies misuse of hyphens in domain names

"Hyphen Misuse"
“Hyphen Misuse”

Recently, Google specialist John Mueller clarified misconceptions around the use of hyphens in domain names in a Reddit conversation. He stated that while hyphens were once used to help search engines differentiate between words in a URL, these visual cues are no longer necessary due to advances in modern search algorithms. Hyphen usage in domain names is still allowed, and it won’t harm a site’s SEO, but it might make them less user-friendly.

Previously, hyphens were common in domain names, especially with specific keywords, as a strategy to attract potential website traffic. However, Google’s algorithms have evolved to prioritize such factors as site quality, relevance, and user experience over keyword inclusion in the domain name. Consequently, the practice of incorporating hyphens in domain names has lost its importance.

Domains with numerous hyphens have seen a drop in popularity. They are often seen as less trustworthy and more awkward, possibly influencing conversion rates. Preference for domains containing several hyphens has dwindled due to these negative perceptions.

In response to a Redditor’s question about domains with many hyphens, Mueller remarked that with the various top-level domains, it’s no longer a significant issue. He advised focusing on the longevity and sustainability of the domain, and avoiding excessive keyword focus.

Google specialist demystifies hyphen usage in domains

Modern SEO practices favor user experiences and quality content over keyword stuffing. Moreover, too many hyphens could make the domain name appear complex and confusing to some users.

Mueller recommends a flexible, future-oriented approach to domain name selection. Businesses should consider the longevity and adaptability of their domain name, allowing for potential growth and changes. A less specific domain name also leaves room for shifts in trends, ensuring the domain’s relevance regardless of adjustments.

Quality content and service are paramount according to Mueller. If a hyphen feels necessary and right in the domain name, he supports its use. He advised careful consideration when selecting a domain name: it should inspire trust, be easily remembered, and allow for future growth and diversification. Mueller highlighted that the domain name should resonate with the target audience and convey the essence of the business or service, and suggested selecting a domain name that doesn’t restrict you to a specific niche. This grants flexibility should your business scale or pivot, allowing for potential expansions or changes in direction.

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