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SEO: Should You Use Dashes, Underscores or Neither in Domain Names

One of the biggest challenges we face as internet business owners is trying to secure domain names that have the keywords we need to help in the Search Engine Optimization process. Over the last few years the number of domains being registered is growing exponentially and Internet marketers are now reverting to domain names that use a combination of dashes and underscores, however you need to be careful using dashes and underscores in the domain names because you can in fact make it very difficult for a client to actually remember your website and come back to it if they did not add it to their favorites. In the long run, this can challenge the ability of your business to grow.

From a number of focus groups we have run in Australia and also in conversation with our customers, we have found that a domain using dashes is in fact harder for a customer to remember then one with underscores. One of the core reasons that people find using underscores easier to remember goes back to the bad old days of DOS. The DOS operating system did not allow for names to have spaces and the substitute for spaces was the underscore, consequently people remember underscores between names better than those that use dashes.

If you were choosing a Key Word Rich Name the best choice would be to have the domain with no dashes or underscores. For example if I was trying to setup a domain for a car detailing service in Los Angeles, the best non-company name specific domain for the location would be -

The key advantage of this name is that customers will easily remember the name and that there are no underscores or dashes. This domain is also far more easier for people to remember if they see the domain using off-line marketing techniques like bumper bar stickers. The domain name is also far more easier for you as the business owner to explain to the client to lookup on the web.

For example we could have rewritten this domain - or

If I had a choice between the two names above, from experience I would recommend the first one over the second. The reason for this is that your clients who are not extensively internet savvy will tend to interpret a dash, whether spoken or seen as an underscore. Once again this occurs because of the history people have with the DOS operating system.

The other issue you need to be very cautious of doing is using a combination of dashes and underscores. In a recent survey my company did of 200 keywords in the three major search engines, we found that more and more companies are registering domains with either dashes or underscores in the domain name and then use the alternative with the file names. Let me show you an example

You can see in the domain above that we have used a combination of dashes and underscores. Doing this is really poor practice because if a person visits your website and wants to get back to the page above, they will get mixed up as to whether they should be using underscores or dashes.

When using underscores or dashes in your domain, make sure that you stay consistent and only use either all dashes or all underscores. It is unwise to use a combination of these elements as shown above.

Look the bottom line is this; from a client user perspective the best domain to register is one without spaces. If that domain is not available then the next best one is one that uses underscores and finally the dashes option should only be used in the worst case scenario.

One of the other issues you need to be cautious about when registering a domain is to not make the domain name to long. In online advertising sites like Google Adwords the domain name display allows only a maximum of 35 characters. If your domain name is longer than 35 characters you will not be able to type it into the Display URL box the domain which will mean if you do not display the right URL then Google will ban your Adwords campaign. In the examples I used above I would not be able to run an Adwords campaign because the number of characters in the domain exceeds the Display URL's capability and as such limits your advertising options for pay-per-click advertising.

Choosing the right domain is an important step and if you get it wrong it can limit your abilities to market your website and cost you money.

About the Author: For other great online and offline marketing ideas visit our website Online Marketing Business Opportunity. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill will teach you the 13 secrets to become rich. To help you in learning this material I strongly recommend our High Performance Meditation Music at - Meditation Music

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