Can a hyphen in a domain name affect SEO? No. But should you use dashes in URLs? Depends. Find out all you need to know. 

So, you’ve picked the perfect business name only to find the matching domain isn’t available. Cue the never-ending ‘hyphen in domain name’ debate.

Whether or not you should put a hyphen in your domain name has been a hot topic for years. There’s lots of wrong information out there, too, so we’re here to get to the bottom of it. 

Today, we’ll be answering questions like:

  • Can you use a hyphen in a domain name?
  • What are the pros and cons of hyphenated domain names?
  • Do domains with hyphens affect SEO?

Ready? Then let’s do this.

Are Hyphens Allowed in URLs? Absolutely

For some reason, lots of people think hyphens aren’t allowed in domain names, but you absolutely can (and, in some cases, totally should) put hyphens in your URL. They’re actually the only spacing character recognised by Google.

Can You Have Consecutive Dashes in a Domain Name?

What about consecutive hyphens in a domain name? That’s a hard “No”. While you can have two or more dashes in a domain name (for example,, you can’t put two hyphens together like this (–). 

You also can’t begin or end your domain name with a hyphen. So don’t try.

So, Hyphens or Dashes in Domain Names: Good or Bad?

Are domain names with hyphens a good idea, then, or are they a recipe for disaster? Let’s weigh up the positives and negatives, starting with why you might try choosing a domain name with a hyphen.

Advantages of a hyphen in a domain name

There’s more availability

Chances are that the short, memorable, generic domain name you really want is taken. Either that or it costs thousands of bucks to purchase. Instead of changing your name completely (or going for not up-to-scratch extensions), just add a hyphen.

So, if you can’t get, you’ll have much better luck getting While you do have to be careful (because you don’t want to be accused of typosquatting – that’s a thing), this gives you more to work with.

They’re easier to read

Hyphens separate words, helping web visitors and search engines to figure out what your website is about. This can make domain names with many words in a row easier to understand. It can also avoid some embarrassing (but side-splitting) slurls.

What in the world is a slurl? Before you rush to Google, it’s where the words in a URL take on a different meaning when they’re put together. Check out these unintentionally-named domains to see what we mean:


We doubt this is what users are searching for. Although we can’t say for certain. But, a little thing like a hyphen could have kept these decent websites from being misunderstood and laughed at. So, readability is a huge pro for hyphens.

It can protect your brand

This is an interesting one. If you already have the non-hyphenated version of your domain name, buying the hyphenated version as well can give you the upper hand when it comes to competitors.

Let’s say you own Buying stops your competitors from bagging it. So, if a web user accidentally mistypes your address, they could end up on your website instead of a rival’s.

This means you’ll get more website traffic. It also stops sneaky typosquatters from copying your brand.

As well as the hyphenated versions of your domain, think about buying domain name extensions (such as .co, .io, or .ai) for the same reasons.

Disadvantages of a hyphen in a domain name

They’re not as user-friendly

Non-hyphenated domain names are the norm. So, if you have hyphenated website names, people are probably going to forget and type in the non-hyphenated version. This could lead them straight to a competitor’s website. 

If you’re going to rely on radio advertising or word-of-mouth marketing, this can be really tricky. People have to get it across that you have a hyphen in your name, which can sound clunky. 

For example, saying “” is much clearer than saying “www. only hyphen”.

Remember too that hyphenated domain names aren’t mobile-friendly. People have to switch keyboards to type the dash symbol, adding an extra step to the process. And you want to make this as smooth as possible for your users.

They have poor resale value

You probably saw this one coming. Hyphenated domain names aren’t as valuable as non-hyphenated versions. So, if you want to sell your domain name in the future, you won’t get as much dosh for it. 

Plus, it’s less likely to sell. Everyone knows the sell-through rate for hyphenated websites is much lower than for non-hyphenated ones. None of the domain names listed on NameBio’s 2023 top 100 domain name sales list included a hyphen. Speaks volumes, right?

It might harm your credibility 

This one depends on the person, but some might not trust the credibility of your brand if you use a hyphenated website name. One reason for this is typosquatting. People aren’t used to seeing hyphenated domain names, so it can put them off or make them question how professional you really are. 

Hyphens in domain names: sub-pages and categorisation

The ‘hyphen in domain name’ debate isn’t complete without talking about sub-pages and categorisation.

Hyphens work so well in sub-page URLs. Users usually go straight to your domain and find what they want from there, so adding hyphens to subcategories and pages makes things clearer and avoids making your site complicated to use. If anything, this is where users expect to see hyphens. 

Check out this sub-page URL with dashes:

Imagine how tough that would be to read without hyphens added. Yep, migraine-inducing.

Are Business Websites with Hyphens OK?

Sure, businesses can put dashes in domain names, but is it a good idea?

You want your business’s web address to be memorable and easy to access, right? Well, using hyphenated names can make that difficult, especially if you want to advertise your website via radio and word-of-mouth marketing. That runs the risk of people forgetting or mistyping your domain name, which can hurt your traffic.

But, if there’s a hyphenated domain name that’s perfect for your brand (or using hyphens is the only way to avoid a slurl), then you can make it work. If most of the time you use digital marketing campaigns, people will just click your link or copy and paste your URL anyway.

This leads us nicely to our next point.

Does a Hyphen in a Domain Name Affect SEO? No, No, and No

One of the main reasons why a domain name is important is because it affects SEO. Things like the keywords you use, the length of your domain, and your domain name extension all matter when talking SEO strategy.

But hyphens don’t impact SEO at all. In fact, Google Search Central actually recommends them in URLs. 

Why? Because it helps those infamous Google algorithms (and your users) to read them and understand what your website is about without affecting SEO.

If you need any more convincing, a string of Google employees have gone on record to back this up, dating back to 2005. Check out Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes, who said that Google’s algorithms don’t even think about hyphens when it comes to SEO.

They asked him whether putting hyphens in domain names should be used or avoided, and his simple answer was: “Up to you, whatever you think makes sense.” Translate that to mean: do what you want, folks. We don’t care anyway.

Buy the Domain Names You Need to Succeed at OnlyDomains

Buying the right domain name is a big deal for your website, but you also need to choose a decent domain name registrar. 

But we have that covered for you.

We have lots of domain names (and over 900 extensions) up for grabs at OnlyDomains, so there’s plenty to choose from. We also offer competitive pricing, an easy registration process, and top-notch 24/5 customer support. 

Register Yours

Think we’re only about selling domains? We offer so much more, too. So, if you want a domain management solution that offers everything from URL forwarding to a superb website builder, why not check us out and buy or transfer your domain name today? It’ll be the best thing you do this year.

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