Ben Edelman, (who, I am happy to say, is brought in to consult our firm’s clients on ‘computer forensic’ matters on occasion), responds to my previous item about the value of a generic domain name, specifically ailine-tickets.com:
When a domain name is a single word, or when multiple words of a domain name
are separated by hyphens, experience shows that Google treats the domain
favorably for ranking purposes. For example, all else equal,
airline-tickets.com would rate well for a search on “airline tickets” (no
quotes). Not so for domains that consist of multiple words without hyphens,
though — then Google seems to offer no reward (or at most a minimal reward)
for the fact that the domain exactly matches the search term.
Same for filenames and directories, except that acceptable word delimiters
in filenames and directories include underscores and perhaps other
characters too, in addition to hyphens.
Notice buy-discount-airline-tickets.com in position #8 on “airline tickets”
as well as airline-tickets.travelwand.com in #9, and
sunfinder-vacations.com/airline_tickets.htm in #10.
Interestingly, the hyphens-in-domains theory cuts against the usual
valuation of domains: Hyphens make domains more valuable for search engine
ranking purposes, but nonetheless less valuable for memorability/type-in
Dan Tobias, who is another regular reader of the Blog (that makes at least two), writes in to point out:
Of course, the search-engine advantages (if there are any) of hyphenated
domain names including generic words don’t actually require that anybody
actually register any new domains to take advantage of them; the use of
subdomains in your existing domains is just as effective (as shown in
fact by some of the examples cited in the article). The snake-oil
merchants of the domain industry sometimes use this search engine stuff
to encourage people to purchase needless domain names for an effect they
can achieve for free with subdomains (or, in fact, subdirectories).