Hyphenated Domain Names and Domain Plurals

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Should you register hyphenated domain names or domain plurals?

The short answer is ‘yes’, you should register a domain plural and ‘yes’, in certain circumstances registering a hyphenated domain names is a good idea too. Read on …
The internet is no longer in its infancy and in the last 10 years there has been a gold rush of people trying to secure the best domain names. This then raises the question, what makes a domain name the best?

The best domain names have these 5 basic principles;

  • They are short.
  • They are easy to type in without spelling mistakes or typos.
  • They tend to be more generic in nature or have your keywords embedded within them.
  • They are relevant to your business or industry you are in.
  • They are memorable.

Then why hyphenated domains or plurals?

As all of the single word domains and most of the two or three word domain names have already been taken, it makes sense to use your creativity and try and come up with similar domain names that haven’t been taken. This can be done by using hyphens within the domain name. Search Engines do not see hyphenated domains as people do. A search engine when looking at a hyphenated domain name eg., domain-name.com will see it exactly the same as non-hyphenated name eg., domainname.com. The trouble is that when looking at it from a human perspective a hyphen makes it more difficult to verbalize in some cases than if you didn’t have your domain name hyphenated.

Take this for example and read both of these domain names out loud, ‘havefun.com’ and ‘have-fun.com’ … a little bit tricky right? It pays to be aware of these kinds of things when selecting a hyphenated domain name. If you cannot verbalize the hyphenated domain or brand, it will be difficult for others to do so too, and also to tell their friends about your great website.

The other thing to be aware of is trademark issues. You come across a great name, and you check the spelling twice or thrice, and the domain name is still available, do you rush out and register it? Just because say pepsi-cola.com may be available (it has been taken so don’t bother checking) doesn’t mean that pepsicola.com and their army of lawyers won’t notice. So be smart about what hyphenated domain names you want to register. If you are unsure, check with www.copyright.gov first.

Hyphenated domains aren’t bad

The last point to make about using hyphenated domain names is if using a hyphen creates a domain name that is more easily remembered, or if stringing the words together in a domain name without hyphens may actually spell out a different meaning. Take this for an example … ‘therapistfinder.com’. This may be read by a human in two different ways, the second way will only damage your brand. It would be a lot smarter to hyphenate the words and make the name more explicit as ‘therapist-finder.com’ so that the alternative ‘the rapist finder.com’ would never be associated with it.

What about domain plurals?

The next point is what to do about domain plurals? Say that you have a great web design company called flyingcowdesign.com, so alternative domain plurals of this domain name could be flyingcowsdesign.com and flyingcowdesigns.com. Should you rush out and register these domain plurals if you had the singular version of it? Absolutely!

Not only does it stop your competition getting hold of the plurals of your domain and misusing them, but they could genuinely be mistyped into a person’s browser and if you own the domain plurals you can then redirect the domain plurals to the main domain name as they do. Try clicking on all three domain names, they all go to the same main website – Smart!

Remember that your domain name is your brand; it is a way for people to identify and find your business online. You will be spending a lot of time and effort making sure that people remember your brand in order to visit your website, so whether you use hyphenated domains or domain plurals, make sure that if you were the customer, that you could remember your domain, spell it correctly, and enter it into a browser easily.


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