Hot Marketing Topic with Examples - How to Choose the Best Domain Name
To Hyphen or Not - To - Hyphen
-How to choose the best domain name-
Al Lautenslager - Market-for-Profits.com C 2004
A question in internet marketing often comes up regarding the use of hyphens in a domain name. Here are a few considerations when planning your sight.
When being interviewed for a local radio show, invariably the host will entertain questions from the listening audience. Most of the time, the host will plug your book, your product, your event or your cause. Many times a website or url is associated with this. Spouting off a long url will annoy hosts and producers everywhere not to mention scrambling audiences trying to record what you are saying. If you have a hyphenated url make sure you are clear as to the hyphen being included and dont make the url too long. Bill Clinton hyphen my life. Com (www.billclinton-mylife.com) is short enough that the hyphen can be used, can be emphasized with no traffic risk occurring.
Using the above example, it is also wise to reverse the wording before and after the hyphen. Listeners, readers and browsers think what they want in the order that they want. In the example above, www.billclinton-mylife.com <http://www.billclinton-mylife.com/> might be remembered by your reader as www.mylife-billclinton.com <http://www.mylife-billclinton.com/> . When purchasing domain names it is wise to purchase both just to assure your targeted traffic.
People make up urls when searching the internet. Stream of consciousness enters the browsers mind. In other words they they type what they are thinking at the time. If a browser is looking for The Davinci Code book they may make up their own url for searching purposes and type in www.thedavinci-code.com <http://www.thedavinci-code.com/> . In this case they inserted a hyphen after what they think a main phrase is regarding the searched subject. While this type of traffic is low compared to the primary url without the hyphens, the hyphens assures the capture of intended traffic. With the cost of domain names today, buying variations of your domain is considered inexpensive "traffic insurance".
Urls without hyphens do look more professional. Hyphens are typically ok in certain contexts but when you start stringing them out with more than three words or three phrases it can get cumbersome. And we all know the attention span of an internet browser. Hyphenated domain names work with targeted key word campaigns and search engine spiders. If that is the purpose of the sight or domain then the hyphens are fine. If your marketing intention is to create a brand, a remembered domain name, top of mind awareness with the domain then hyphenless domains work best.
Many times it doesnt matter what a domain name is if you are promoting it with links, and offline promotion. If I have on the back of my business card, visit www.billclinton-mylife.com <http://www.billclinton-mylife.com/> then someone who is interested in Clintons autobiography will literally read my card and type the name into a browser because I suggested it to them. This is with or without the hyphens. If I printed on the back of my card, visit www.hyphen-hyphen-hyphen.com <http://www.hyphen-hyphen-hyphen.com/> then if there was interested this suggestion would guide the browser. As these directed domains show up in offline marketing pieces and promotion, hyphens dont matter.
When it comes to underscores, many times the general public will interpret them as hyphens. Since hyphenated domain names are becoming more and more common that is the general notion of the average browser. Underscores also can get lost when a url or domain is underlined as many hyperlink commands do in word processor software programs.
The general rule of thumb is to not use hyphens between words if possible. A domain name with hyphens is harder to describe when said aloud as in our radio commercial. It is commonly accepted that a domain name with multiple words does not include hyphens. But there are exceptions to the rule. With some popular domain names not being available, sometimes a hyphenated url will be and will be used.
Another reason to use hyphenated domain names is when two words joined together like in a domain name could imply or even state a different meaning or unintentional phrases. The following is an example: <http://www.basketballshopping.com/> www.basketballshopping.com could be read as basketball shopping or basketballs hopping, two completely different thoughts and contexts. Avoid confusing phrases altogether or use hyphens to separate the words.
It all boils down to what your purpose is with your domain name, website and how you will market it to those interested. Interested parties like to be marketed to and told where to look; uninterested parties will ignore your domain with or without hyphens.
Al Lautenslager is a certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach and the co-author with Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of Guerrilla Marketing, of the next book in the guerrilla marketing series, entitled, "Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days." He can be reached through the
website: http://www.guerrillamarketingin30days.com <http://www.guerrillamarketingin30days.com/>.