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Are Dashes Still Really Necessary?

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#1 jsm


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Posted 05 May 2008 - 07:12 AM


I've been through this discussion before. Anyway, we're creating subdomains for different cities. the local folks involved seem without fail to want the name without a dash. e.g. newpaltz not new-paltz; sandiego not san-diego; grandturkisland not grand-turk-island.

Are dashes really so advantageous? the <title> will show the city name properly, e.g "San Diego".

and since these are *subdomains* we can of course have the 'nospace' and the hyphenated version. but in this case, which one should be the redirect, and which one should contain the real site?


Edited by jsm, 05 May 2008 - 07:47 AM.

#2 lee.n3o


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Posted 05 May 2008 - 07:58 AM

Its supposed the SE's treat - & now _ as a space.. So if there is supposed to be a space there, personally I would use a hyphen.. Not to mention it makes it easier to read..

#3 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 08:32 AM

You're going to run into a lot of personal preference on this one.

I myself, prefer the use of hyphens (-) in the URLs (be it domain names or subdomains)... but alot of others deem it to complex for common people to understandw when you 'spell it out' to them.

At the end of the day, the onyl important deciding factor, that I know of, is your end users.
If they have a strong preference, in either direction, then I suggest following it.
If it is undecided ( roughly equal for and against)... flip a coin :)

Regarding the - and _ ... wouldn't be to sure... was reading the other day, and it appears that Google never implemented any changes on that area... they just sort of went quite?
Of course, if you've got material that says otherwsie, I'll ask(beg/please) to see it (as well as breathign a big sigh of relief!) :)




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Posted 05 May 2008 - 08:43 AM

For a domain name I would want to use RedWidgets.com because that is what most people will type in to get to your site and it is an awful lot easier than spelling out R E D - W I D G E T S . C O M when someone asks you about your website.

For a file name I would use red-widgets because we can't rely on a search engine cutting redwidgets into "red widgets"

Edited by EGOL, 05 May 2008 - 08:44 AM.

#5 AbleReach


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Posted 05 May 2008 - 12:47 PM

What EGOL said.

If you're writing something that people may need to repeat over the phone, make it as easy as possible for people - real words, no hyphens, spells how it sounds.

If you're writing something that won't need to be repeated vocally, make it as easy as possible for spiders. Hyphens do wonders when stemming isn't all that. It you need to see if a SE "gets" yourterm versus your-term, try searching for [yourterm]. If it appears in the resulting SERPS as [your term] with a space, you may not need to use a hyphen to get through to spiders.

#6 bobbb


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Posted 05 May 2008 - 01:20 PM

Is there a value in using the Red-Widgets.com domain when you also own RedWidgets.com? (and re-direct)

Above let's substitute word-town.com and wordtown.com where you want town as a main keyword. As in the filename example, can we rely on a search engine cutting wordtown into "word town"?

Edited by bobbb, 05 May 2008 - 01:21 PM.

#7 bwelford


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Posted 05 May 2008 - 02:03 PM

In my opinion, Bob, search engines don't attach any value to domain names. So it doesn't matter whether they can cut up domain names or not. The only exception at one time was said to be MSN search but who cares about that now.

I do believe having both versions can be valuable for human visitors. People do try to guess what the domain might be so if you cover the obvious examples then you may make it easier for them.

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 05:06 PM

In my opinion, Bob, search engines don't attach any value to domain names.

Maybe they do... in an Interview with Matt Cuts, it was mentioned that they may have some influence in ranking.

There is a singula reason I advise my clients t opurchase more than a single domain - protection.
By purchasing the most 'similar' alternative DNs, you protect yourself against others attempting to feed of your brand/name/site etc.

SE's such as G seem able to break the words up happily enough - it's down to readability for users that is worth bearing in mind.
If it's short, then it's not much of a problem.
Having a rather large DN though can be cumbersome, and if it isn't physically displayed/viewed as RedWidgetsBoughtAndSold... then it might take a few glances before the read realises what they are looking at.

Whether the SE's give a different value to DNs with/without the hyphen, I don't know.
But having multiples with and without shouldn't make a real difference, as they should technically be 301'd to a single, preferred DN - so any benefit from the DN will most likely only be obtained from 1 DN (due to the others being redirected).
[NOTE: I'm guessing at that - though it would be interesting to find if you can attach a domain for BlueWidgets and redirect to Red Widgets... then see if you rank at all for Blue Widgets :)].

#9 jsm


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Posted 11 May 2008 - 10:23 AM

Thanks everyone for as always an excellent bunch of responses :-)

Last question - if I set greenwidgets.example.com as the redirect to green-widgets.example.com which is the "real site" do we get the same link juice from people who link to greenwidgets.example.com?

#10 EGOL



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Posted 11 May 2008 - 10:55 AM

There could be some loss in anchor text relevance and other link benefits. However, nobody knows for sure. If you have very few links into greenwidgets.example.com then it should not be a great loss. However, if you have tons of links into it and those links support rankings in competitive SERPs your rankings might drop.

#11 projectphp


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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:38 PM

OK, different slant: sometimes dashes are VITAL, and as a JIC, I'd say make sure that you add them, for reaons that will become apparent.

I registered a domain tother day, thatsnotlikeyou, which was SUPPOSSED to be thats-not-like-you but read like ThatSnotLikeYou (at least to me!). Dahses avoid this issue, by clearly defining the words.

Here are a few other long known classics:
Site: GotAHoe.com
Is really: GoTahoe.com (Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau)

Site: PenisLand.net
Is really: PenIsland.net (sells custom pens)

Site: TheRapistFinder.com
Is really: TherapistFinder.com (directory of therapists)

Site: ExpertSexChange.net
Is really: ExpertsExchange.net (data base experts site)

Site: WhorePresents.com
Is really: WhoRepresents.com (directory of agents and who they represent)

Site: PowerGenitalia.com
Is really: PowergenItalia.com (Italian power company)

Site: MolestationNursery.com
Is really: MoleStationNursery.com (a plant nursery in Mole Station, Australia)

Site: DollarSexChange.com
Is really: DollarsExchange.com (currency trading site)

If you automagically add words, and do noit check them, you could potentially get problems (I always thought CVSignore was cv signire, I was like, who is this guy called CV?), so it might make more sense from a mistake perspective to add dashes.

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