Revisiting the question of dashes vs. non-dashes in domain names, I thought I'd start putting together this post with references to some good articles on the topic. There are a number of factors to consider:
- Search engine & SEO consequences
- Branding and memorability of the domain name
- Playing it both ways.
Matt Cutts In this post Matt Cutts discusses the benefits of dashes to underscores. While the post was written in 2005, it continues to generate traffic and comments. And the comment section is worth a review. Essentially dashes are to be preferred if you are using the URL extension.
Webmasterworld This post on webmasterworld has the community debating the merits of using dashes or not using dashes in the actual domain name. Many community members thought domain names with dashes were less memorable than domain names without. Here it will be tough for many people to remember what to type into their browser if there's a dash in the domain name. Plus, domain names with dashes gave the impression of a cheap, or fly by night organization. Quite a few community members suggested buying both the domain name without dashes and with dashes, and pointing the domain name with dashes to the other.
NetMechanic This article makes an important point that marketers have to consider if search engines can parse domain names without dashes correctly, and uses the example of windowneedsnow.com, which may be read as "window need snow," instead of the intention, window-needs-now.com. Update: 2/9/11 Brian Fending provided another example of where a lack of a dash can cause confusion, "experts-exchange.com v. ExpertSexChange.com always makes me smile".