While it may be true that search engines treat dash like a space, I strongly advice against it. I can understand when some end users with little kowledge go after domains with dash, but domainers/brand owners should not go after domains with dash, here is a list of 10 reasons why.
Just in case you don’t know what a dashed domain is, it’s a domain that contains dash(-) character in it. This is the only other character allowed to be part of to domain name other than letters and numbers.
If you are looking to do a quick flip, it may be ok. However, flipping a dash domain is much harder than it seems. Looking at dnjournal domain sale history, we do see some sales of dashed domains. However, I think they are the few lucky ones and your portfolio should not contain more than a few dashed domains.
10 Reasons why you should not have a dash in your domain name:
- Typing – this is the most obvious one. Your visitors are going to have a hard time typing the dash in the url.
- Hard To Remember – Your users will often forget the dash in the domain name even when referring your site to others.
- Loss Of Traffic – coming from last couple of points, you will lose a lot of traffic to the same domain without dash.
- SEO benefits aren’t that great – while there maybe a few domains that position well with dashed domain, my experience tells me otherwise. They are no better than choosing another gtld. While there may be opposing views on this point, just remember one thing, search engines are improving rapidly and their number one priority is the user. If they figure out that you’re using a dashed domain only for SEO benefits, they will eventually decrease you ranking.
- Radio Test fails – I can’t remember the last time I heard a company promoting a dashed domain on the radio and I think there is a reason for that. It’s confusing and many people will actually try to type in “dash”. So do the radio test, imagine how it would sound if you had a radio ad on it.
- It Adds extra word to the domain – this is an important point to keep in mind. While it’s a single character, when pronouncing your domain out loud, it actually adds a word. So if you though you had 2 word domain, I think it’s actually 3 word. Now if you were to just choose a different tld, the word count doesn’t change.
- It’s ugly / spammy – maybe it’s just me, but I think dashed domains are ugly and have a sense of spam. This is because a lot of spammers have used them to gain seo traffic or trick people into clicking links.
- .NET or .ORG – If .net or .org are available, register one of them. I prefer .org but it also depends on how the domain is going to be used. These are gTlds and will be positioned well on search engines as well.
- Hard to sell – I think they are much harder to sell. You can easily tell by doing a simple ratio check on sold domains. See what percentage actually contains dash in them. I think .net or .org have better chance in the resell market.
- Company name mismatch – most companies have matching domains. If you go with dash domain, most likely it won’t match to your company name as you wouldn’t have dash in the company name. If you are creating a new brand, choose a different name and plan ahead.
My advice is that if you are a newbie domainer, you should stay away from dashed domains. In fact, you should only stick to .com, 2 word, letters only domains if possible. These have the highest potential of reselling. If you notice, even on ValueDrops.com, I filter out dashed domains and don’t care how good the domain keywords are.