Domain Name Information To Keep In Mind
Character LimitDomain names are only allowed to be 63 characters in length. The 63 characters does not include what is referred to as the protocol identifier or the domain extension . This is purely the domain name between the two. Avoid having a domain name anywhere near this maximum length as it will become more challenging for users to navigate to your site.
Things To Never Include In A Domain Name
Lets face itit can be difficult to find an available domain name. There are hundreds of millions of domain names already registered. That means that the odds are your first, second and third choices for a domain name might already be registered.
Because of this difficulty, some choose domain names that leave a lot to be desired just to get up and running with their website.
While you might need to make some compromises or get creative to find your perfect domain, there are five things you should never include in a domain name. If someone at your company suggests a domain with one of these five no-nos, flash a red light and urge them to go back to the drawing board.
Favor Subfolders/subdirectories Over Subdomains
Search engines keep different metrics for domains than they do for subdomains, so even though Google itself has stated that â from a ranking perspective â content in subdomains and subdirectories is treated roughly equally, it’s still recommended that webmasters place link-worthy content like blogs in subfolders rather than subdomains .
The notable exceptions to this are language-specific websites. .
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Should You Get A Domain Name With Spaces Or Dots In Between To Improve Readability
In the space of the last few weeks, I have been asked by different readers whether they should geta domain name for their website with spaces in between or perhaps with embedded dots to improve the readabilityof their domain name. This article attempts to address the misunderstanding, suggest alternatives, as well asanswer the underlying question.
Dashes For Definition Underscores For Concatenation
First we can take a moment to define the purpose of both the and the _. Often, when writing in a format that does not allow spaces, people will turn to the underscore to_write_something_with_human_readable_spacing. This works for a human reader, but is not necessarily how a computer will interpret the symbol.
In fact, typically computers will use the hyphen as a spacer, leading-to-something-like-this. The underscore is a concatenation signifier, meaning that it exists to differentiate words to humans but should not differentiate them to the computer. A_sentence_like_this would look like Asentencelikethis.
Enforcement of this is spotty, of course. Its actually perfectly legal to have an underscore in a domain name, except for one thing that only works for actual DNS names. You cant actually use an underscore in the domain name of a site, since thats actually a host name URL. Thats all part of technical documentation, though. The important thing to know is that:
- Hyphens are allowed in domain names themselves, as well as subdomains and subfolders. www.sub-domain.domain-name.com/sub-folder-1/ is a perfectly valid URL.
- Underscores are not allowed in domain names, but are allowed in subfolders. You can often see URLs like www.example.com/sub_folder/ that work just fine.
Other punctuation, except the ., cannot be used in URLs outside of parameters. Domain names are only allowed to use letters, numbers, and hyphens. The periods are there for technical purposes.
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Does The Domain Extension Affect Seo
The domain extension, commonly referred to as the Top-Level Domain , generally isn’t considered a Google ranking factor, except in the area of International SEO. In this case, having a specific country code top-level domains can indicate to search engines which country your content is targeted at.
Hyphen In Domain Name
Theres a LOT of misinformation and SEO myths regarding how Google treats domain names, just look at the top results in Google for SERPs like Hyphenated Domain Names SEO.
Even Moz gets the tone wrong:
3. Avoid hyphens if possible
If your domain name is two words , you may want to separate the words with a hyphen for readability: www.example-site.com. But, keep in mind that use of hyphens also strongly correlates with spammy behavior and decreases domain name readability and memorability. For that reason, generally, no more than one hyphen should be used . Source:https://moz.com/learn/seo/domain
Its the highlighted search result in Google spreading the SEO myth domains with hyphens are bad:
Hyphens per se are not bad, yes there was a tendency for those building SPAMMY sites to use hyphenated domain names, but that does not mean Google automatically downgrades hyphenated domains.
You are on a domain with a hyphen now , assuming you found your way here via a Google search did you even notice the hyphen and if so did you consider NOT visiting because theres a hyphen?
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Embedded Spaces And Dots
The short answer to the questions asked is that you won’t be able to buy a domain name like”an example.com” or “an.example.com” where there are embedded spaces or dotsin the name you choose.
Don’t be confused here. When I say you can’t buy a domain name with embedded dots, I meant that you can’t buyone where the dots occur in the portion of the name that you choose I’m not talking about the partthat separates that name from its suffix. That is, a domain name registrar does not sell domain names of theform “an.example.com” but they allow domain namesof the form “example.com” or “example.co.uk” .
In other words, there’s no need to debate whether to buy a domain name with spaces and dots in between.You can’t do it.
However, all is not lost. There are other ways of separating the words.
They Are Hard To Communicate
A good rule of thumb for registering domain names is that they should be short, meaningful, memorable, descriptive, and unique.
One way to ensure your domain meets these criteria is to apply something called the radio test. Essentially, if your domain name would be easy to say over the radio and be remembered by someone listening, then it passes the radio test and thats a pretty good sign that it meets these criteria.
Fundamentally, the radio test is a reminder that on the phone, in meetings, doing presentations, at a bar, in an Uber, or in a Zoom call, youll be communicating your domain name verbally, so including weird spellings, numerals, and non-verbal symbols like the hyphen, can trip you up when youre providing your domain name to people, and can make it hard for people to remember.
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What Types Of Characters Can Be Used In A Domain Name
In general, only the following characters may be used in a domain name:
- Letters a through z . Note that domain names are not case sensitive. This means there will be no distinction made between upper case letters and lower case letters
- The numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and/or 9
- The hyphen character
There are limits on how you can use hyphens:
- A hyphen cannot be used to start or end a domain name
- Two or more hyphens cannot be in consecutive positions
Domain names must:
- Be at least 2 or 3 characters long, dependant on the extension, EXCLUDING the extension. For example:
- z.com is invalid as the length of the domain without the extension is only 1 character
- yes.com is valid as yes is at least 2 characters long
The Question In Detail
There are various forms of the question. One version has the reader asking me whether he should geta domain name of the form “hereisamultiplewordedexample.com”or “here is a multiple worded example.com”. Others asked if a domain like”here.is.a.multiple.worded.example.com” might be superior to a name where all the wordsrun into each other.
For those wondering what a domain name is, it is just a name like “thesitewizard.com”. It forms the address of yourwebsite. You get one by registeringa name of your choice with a domain name registrar. This is usually the first step one takes whencreating a website.
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Which Camp Do You Best Relate With And More Importantly Which Camp Will Stand The Test Of Time
But no matter the camp you find yourself in, I think it is safe to say that buying and using domains with hyphens is nothing new under the sun in the world of the Internet.
There will always be a market for selling and buying domain names with hyphens.
But before you scurry off into the deep abyss of buying hyphenated domain names, Iâd like to share with you some thoughts on why and when to consider buying and using domains with hyphens.
Avoid Hyphens If Possible
If your domain name is two words , you may want to separate the words with a hyphen for readability: www.example-site.com. But, keep in mind that use of hyphens also strongly correlates with spammy behavior and decreases domain name readability and memorability. For that reason, generally, no more than one hyphen should be used .
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What Is The Alternative To Dash In Domain Name
What is the alternative to a dash or hyphen in your domain name? Is there an alternative to Dash in Domain Name? The ideal alternative, of course, if buying and using the domain name without the dash or hyphen in your domain name. Sometimes thats not possible, though, as someone may not be available for purchase. You could certainly approach the owner of the domain name without the dash and ask them if its for sale.
You could also check to see if a similar domain name, perhaps in a New gTLD, is available. So, rather than using Red-Widgets.com, maybe Red.Widgets is available. You can check the New TLDs list here and see if another ending is available. Then, check your favorite registrar to see if you can purchase that domain name.
It’s Okay To Append Or Modify It
If your domain name is not available, it’s okay to go out and add a suffix or a prefix. It is okay to use an alternate TLD extension, like we talked about previously, and it’s okay to be a little bit creative with your online brand.
For example, let’s say my brand name is Pastaterra. Maybe I’ve already got a shop somewhere maybe in the Seattle area and I have been selling pasta at my shop and now I’m going online with it. Well, it is okay for me to do something like ThePastaterra.com, or PastaterraShop.com, or even Pastaterra.net.
With these rules in mind, I would love to hear from all of you about your domain choices, domain name biases, and what you think is working in 2016. Hopefully, we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.
Video transcription by Speechpad.com
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Do Hyphens Put Visitors Off
Another argument against the use of hyphens is that potential visitors prefer simple domain names. Just as very long domain names can raise suspicion that a site may be spammy, too many hyphens in a domain can result in some lost traffic. If you saw the domain best-digital-cameras-for-professionals.com, would you expect it to be a quality site?
If your business model means you attract visitors by word of mouth, use of hyphens can be an issue. Your website needs to have a catchy name that customers will remember easily. This is also the case if you cant always publish the domain in your marketing. For example, if a shopping channel presenter says go to our website Christmascrafts.com to see more of our products, customers wouldnt expect to have to add hyphens. The domain name Christmas-crafts.com could lose a lot of traffic.
Use Broad Keywords When Sensible
If you can include a keyword that helps make it obvious what your business does while keeping your domain name catchy, unique, and brand-friendly, go for it. But, stay away from domain names that might be considered “keyword-rich” or “keyword-targeted” We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again: While these types of domain names once carried weight as a ranking factor, their tendency to be associated with low-quality content means searchers may now view these keyword-dense domain names with a negative bias.
What’s more, in recent years Google has made several changes that have de-prioritized sites with keyword-rich domains that aren’t otherwise high-quality. Having a keyword in your domain can still be beneficial, but it can also lead to closer scrutiny and a possible negative ranking effect from search engines, so tread carefully. For more on this topic, read The Exact Match Domain Playbook: A Guide and Best Practices for EMDs.
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Thats because most peopleare generally used to domains without hyphens. Users usually get confused withthe separators and they are easily missed when typing a domain name directly inthe browser. This may result in a loss of direct traffic.
Also, hyphenated domains are not that catchy and more difficult to remember. This means that this type of domain is harder to advertise on radio, TV, or through word of mouth. This may result in a loss of viral traffic.
Because of this negative impact onuser experience, my recommendation is to go with a domain name without dashes.
You Already Own The Other Version
Finally, you might want to register a domain name with a hyphen in it because you own the non-hyphenated version. This is especially important if youre looking to protect your brand name or other intellectual property, or if you just want to avoid confusion.
In that case, we suggest you register the hyphenated version of the domain and forward it to the non-hyphenated version.
Ultimately, in general, we agree with the common sense that you shouldnt register a domain name with a hyphen. This is a good best practice to have.
But its important not to treat domain name best practices dogmatically. This is a good example of a rule thats really just a shortcut for the more important, big picture, which is: consider your future website visitors when you register a domain name. If its going to be complicated to explain to them and complicated to remember your domain name if you include a hyphen, dont include it. Otherwise, feel free to register a domain with a hyphen in it. And finally, if you have the budget, getting both the hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions of a domain name is a good idea for brand protection, and for traffic generation.
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