One questions that gets asked a lot by businesses looking to purchase their new domain name is should they buy a hyphenated domain (my-company-name.com) or a non hyphenated domain (mycompanyname.com).
In some scenarios their hand is forced by one of the domains being taken; however if they are both available it creates an interesting debate. This can impact your marketing, sales and social media accounts.
So let’s analyse the advantages and disadvantages of both forms.
For this example I am going to invent my own football team, Really Cool Football Club, (apologies if this club already exists), which conveniently has several important keywords which I want to incorporate into my domain
Option One: Purchasing a Hyphenated Domain
The first option is to purchase a hyphenated domain name, a quick check shows that both really-cool-football.com and really-cool-football-club.com are available to purchase.
Should I purchase them or not I ask myself, well let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing the hyphenated domain name.
Really-Cool-Football-Club.com and Really-Cool-Football.com are instantly recognizable; users do not have to decipher what the domain name/company name is.
Hyphenated domains are also easier for the search engines to understand, they do not need any artificial intelligence to try and understand which keywords are in the domain.
When you talk about a domain name people regularly exclude the hyphen from their sentence.
For example they might say ‘Really Cool Football Club.com’, however; unfortunately that is not my domain!
I would require people to actually say ‘Really hyphen Cool hyphen Football hyphen Club.com’ – which I am sure we all agree is a bit of a mouthful!
If someone simply glances at your domain name on any form of advertising and intends to visit your site at a later date, they will more often than not visit the non-hyphenated domain first.
If a competitor was to purchase that domain they could steal a percentage of your hard earned customers
Option Two: Purchasing a Non-Hyphenated Domain
The second option is to purchase the non-hyphenated domain name, once again a quick check shows that the domain name is available, but should I purchase it or not?
When speaking to people on the phone or face-to-face and you mention your domain name ‘Really Cool Football Club.com’. They will then browse to reallycoolfootballclub.com, as the general user will automatically browse to the non-hyphenated domain, which is your domain!
If your competitor has purchase the hyphenated domain, you can actual steal a few of their wayward customers.
Luckily for me my domain reallycoolfootballclub.com and reallycoolfootball.com are not ambiguous enough so that they can not be misunderstood for another term.
Some previously popular domains were not so lucky, a lovely online store which sold biro pens decided to purchase a domain name. They chose not to hyphenate their domain and proceeded to buy penisland.com, (now I am sure that not everyone immediately read that as Pen Island.com), rather embarrassing for the company.
Long, unhyphenated domains can be difficult to read and understand if only seen in passing. If your domain includes some uncommon keywords, a potential customer may struggle to process the domain name therefore potential losing a sale or inquiry.
The solution is simple, purchase both domain’s and use them to their best advantages.
The non-hyphenated domain should then automatically re-direct to the hyphenated domain, if you do not know how to do this ask your web company and/or hosts and they will be able to do it easily for you.
This means you can use the hyphenated domain on all your pieces of marketing and you can catch any users who accidentally try and access the non hyphenated domain as you own both.
What if Both are Not Available
If I was forced into saying which is better, I would always vote for the hyphenated domain, it is far more recognizable and reduces any embarrassing misunderstandings.