When we look for a domain name we tend to have a number of things on our wish list:
- It should be short.
- It should be memorable.
- It should contain our keywords.
- It should be a .com, .net or .org...
... And so on. This frequently leads to the exclamation: "All the good ones are taken! (Whine)"
Another thing that's frequently (unconsciously) on our wish list:
- It should be onebigword.com Not one-big-word.com
I see a lot of affiliates turning up their noses at hyphenated domain names. Obviously a hyphenated domain name means that the affiliate couldn't get the onebigword domain name. The hyphenated domain name means you came into the game late, and this was all that was left. True it might contain your main keywords, it might be short, it might be a prized .com. But it's hypenated (Whine).
What if I told you that having a hyphenated domain might help your search engine rankings?
There have been numerous experiments on the web related to whether Google sees hyphens and underscores as separators for keywords. For instance, does Google see one_big_word as "one" "big" and "word", or "one_big_word"? How about for "one-big-word", how does Google see that?
The results seem to be that Google sees hyphens as separators, and reads words separated by hyphens as individual words.
- one-big-word = "one", "big" and "word"
Underscores get a different treatment... Google treats them as being part of the word, so one_big_word is exactly that: One big word, not three separate words.
- one_big_word = "one_big_word"
This has implications for your file naming (we've known for a while that it's best to separate the words in your file names with dashes) but it also has implications for choosing domain names.
How? It's unlikely that Google will give a hyphenated domain name an SEO bonus over a single word domain name (and likewise it's unlikely they'll penalize a hyphenated domain name for seeming spammy) But think about this: When people are linking to another site, what do they use as the anchor text?
If you're lucky, they'll use your keywords, and this will help boost your search engine ranking for those keywords. If they're very lazy and you're very unlucky, they'll use "click here", and it'll boost your search engine ranking for the keyword "click here". (Hoorah!)
If they're slightly less lazy, they might use the anchor text "yourdomain.com". For most single-word sites, this boosts your search engine ranking for the term "yourdomain.com". (Double hoorah). But if your domain name uses hyphens to separate keywords, and Google recognizes each word separated by a hyphen as a separate keyword, your domain name begins to work for you. A link to your domain using "your-domain-name.com" will help to boost your search engine rankings for "your", "domain", "name", "your domain", "domain name" and "your domain name".
Still something to sniff at?
Of course you need to balance this against human factors when you decide to shun single-worded domain names forever. Do you ever decide not to click on a domain name because it's hyphenated? How many hyphens would it take for you to think "man, what a spammy looking domain name"? What about type-in traffic: Are people going to get confused if they have to type in hyphens to get to your site? Remember that the need for hyphenated domain names is relatively new, and people aren't used to typing them into their address bar.
There will be many website owners who would prefer to get a .info or .ws domain name before resorting to a hyphenated address, but my prediction is that hyphenated domain names are going to become more and more "the norm" as short, single-worded, keyword focused domain names become scarcer and scarcer, so it might be worth snapping up a few good ones now!
In other news, Michelle and I have arrived in Edinburgh after spending a couple of weeks in the States. We're staying in a place that for all intents and purposes could be a mansion. Lots of rooms, huge backyard (bring on BBQ season!), and populated with a bunch of guys who are doing really well selling stuff on eBay. It's like a mini internet marketers' convention!
We're still in the messy process of setting up Affilorama HQ:UK (ie. the office) but we're getting the rest of our office equipment tomorrow and then everything should be sorted.
We ventured out yesterday to buy some essentials (pillows, yay!) and get the vibe of the city. Edinburgh is just awesome. The whole place practically oozes history, which is particularly exciting for us Kiwis. In New Zealand "historical" means "built before 1900", (something that never ceases to amuse visitors to the country!) It's amazing to think that many buildings here were built before our country was even discovered. It's going to take a while to get our heads around that, I think.
Even more mind-bending is going to be London. We'll be spending quite a bit of time hopping between the two cities to visit friends we've got down there. In fact we'll be heading down this weekend for a birthday costume party. (I knew I shouldn't have got rid of all my shiny shirts before coming over here.) It's all very, very exciting.
Lastly, for anyone who hasn't noticed, the April Affilorama Update went out today. (That's "today" New Zealand time, which happens to be "Goodness me, it's late" UK-time.)
This issue features interviews with Ewen Chia, Mark Joyner and Mike Filsaime. In a really fun interview with Ewen Chia we discuss tactics for tapping highly competitive markets like the "make money online" market (pretty much the toughest market out there for affiliates), Mark Joyner grabs us by the shoulders and shakes us around in a couple of mindset interviews, and Mike Filsaime gives us a whole bunch of tips regarding AdWords, opt-in pages, viral marketing and how to appease Google with your landing pages. If you're a fan of the guru interviews (guruviews?) then you'll love this update.
Alright people, it's really, really late (early) here so I'm off to enjoy those new pillow purchases :)
All the best,