Tag Archives: domain

Hyphen in a Domain Name: Good or Bad Idea?

There's been a little debate since our recent blog post Choosing a Domain Name: Avoid the 5 Biggest Mistakes. Most of it regarding the fifth point in the post, whether having a hyphen is a good or bad idea? In the post we reported the hyphen was generally not such a great idea and would advise that people avoid it where possible.

First we should acknowledge that using a hyphen or not is rarely going to be a massive deciding factor in a website's performance. It's a second or third order effect if at all. If your content is good enough you should rank for that. Google is trying to create a level playing field for their users.


When we state something in our blog post we usually have good factual evidence or the opinions of respected authorities to back it up.  It would often prove lengthy or disrupt the flow if we mentioned each and every source in every post.

We  don't pull notions out of thin air. In the case of the hyphen, I was referring to some pretty hefty heavy weight authorities in the Seo world, such as Rand Fishkin of SeoMoz  and Aaron Wall of SeoBook. Both advise against the use of hyphens when choosing a domain.

Aaron Wall stated,

Hyphenated is not only not better, but in this day and age is clearly worse.


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Choosing a Domain Name: Avoid the 5 Biggest Mistakes

Your domain name is one of your core points of branding and identity for your business or organisation on the web so it's well worth putting in even a little bit of time and thought in making a decision that you're mostly stuck with for years to come. These few pointers are to help you avoid some of the most common errors.

The Video, Choosing A Domain Name: Essentials to Consider, follows the tips.

Choosing the Wrong Suffix

DotCom (Image: sxc.hu)

Your choice of suffix or Top Level Domain (TLD) extension is key. Generally you can't go too far wrong with .com and to a lesser extent .net or .org, but be extremely wary of oddities like .cc and .co.com due to being uber cheap some of these are heavily associated with spammers and questionable practices. Read more about avoiding risky domain extensions here.

If you're a national business, country specific domains can add to that sense of nationality and locality eg. .fr for France, .co.uk for the UK, .ie for Ireland and so on. But buying .ie and attempting to attract audiences from elsewhere in the world could prove tricky as you're removing a level of trust or familiarity away from the visitor.

Here are some TLD's you may be less familiar with:

  • .com is the leading TLD, but all one word and most two words in the English language are already taken.
  • .biz was created as an alternative for businesses to .com, but is less commonly used these days.
  • .net was originally for networks only, but can be a good option if your .com is not available.
  • .me tend to only be suitable for sites about you, usually resume or CV sites.
  • .edu is restricted to educational institutions and links from these to your site are quite valuable.
  • .gov is similarly restricted but used by government entities in the USA.
  • .info usually indicates information sites, but Google are wary of it as many spammers used to use it .
  • .org is for organisations and often for non-profits and can be suitable if your .com is not available.
  • .mobi focuses on mobile ready or mobile only versions of websites.

Making it Difficult to Spell or Type


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Avoiding Risky Domain Extensions

A word of warning when choosing your domain name - be careful about what kind of domain extension you choose, and ensure you register it with a reputable domain name registrar.

I normally recommend folks starting out on the web stick to purchasing domains on .COM, .NET and .ORG if available, and perhaps the relevant 2-letter country level domain(s) - for example .IE for Ireland, .ES for Spain, .FR for France - or the equivalent in UK being .CO.UK and Australia being .COM.AU. These domains are called TLDs for Top Level Domains, and are divided into gTLDs and ccTLDs for Global- and Country-Code- Top Level Domains respectively. These are "official", or "real" TLDs and you can find a list here (note that two-part domains like Australia and UK just have the last part listed).

Quick rule of thumb for a new business: my general guideline to stick to the established TLDs. You should go for .COM if it's available, plus maybe the ccTLD for the country(s) that your target customers live in. Of course there are always exceptions (more…)

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