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Are Hyphens in Domain Names Okay for Google?

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Are Hyphens in Domain Names Okay for Google?

In a Google SEO office hours hangout, John Mueller answered whether it’s okay to choose a hyphenated domain name. He answered that it’s perfectly fine to choose a domain like that. But he also said that keywords in the domain name is overrated.

Keywords in Domain Names

There is an idea that having keywords in the domain name will help a site rank better.

In the early days of SEO there was some truth to the value of keywords in the domains. Parked domains (keyword rich domains with no content and only ads) were allowed to rank in the search results.

But Google changed that in 2011.

According to a Google blog post that mentioned parked keyword domains:

“This is a new algorithm for automatically detecting parked domains. Parked domains are placeholder sites with little unique content for our users and are often filled only with ads. In most cases, we prefer not to show them.”

Some say that when people link to the site that the anchor text in the domain will help. But that’s not really true. When someone links with a domain name that’s not counted as an anchor text link.

Google’s John Mueller said the following about URLs as anchor text in another hangout:

“…in that situation we treat that URL as the anchor text.

From what I understand, our systems do try to recognize this and say well, this is just a URL that is linked, it’s not that there’s a valuable anchor here.

So we can take this into account as a link but we can’t really use that anchor text for anything in particular.

So from that point of view it’s a normal link but we don’t have any context there.”

Is it Okay to Use a Hyphenated Domain Name?

The person asking the question just wants to know if it’s okay to choose a hyphenated domain name.

They weren’t asking whether there’s a ranking advantage. But Google’s John Mueller discusses that as well.

The question:

“Is it okay to choose a domain name with two hyphens?

Or is one hyphen better or should hyphens be avoided completely?”

Google’s John Mueller answered:

“Up to you.

Whatever you think makes sense.

Some websites have hyphens, some don’t.”

Google’s Algorithm Doesn’t Look for Hyphens

Mueller next mentioned that as far as he knows, Google’s algorithm isn’t looking for whether a domain name has a hyphen in it or not.

Mueller commented on hyphens and the algorithm:

“I don’t think anything in our algorithms looks specifically for hyphens in domain names.”

Test Domain Names with Hyphens

Google’s John Mueller follows up by stating that the practice of adding keywords in domains is overrated.

That may be the case for ranking purposes.

But in terms of conversions, you may want to experiment a little to see if more people convert on a domain with keywords in them than a branded domain that does not contain the keyword.

As far as a domain name with hyphens in it, like anything else, test it with people likely to be interested in a specific kind of site to see what their perceptions are of hyphenated domain names.

Arguably, hyphens make a domain name look tacky and spammy. But that might not be the perception by site visitors across the board.

Keywords in Domains are Overrated

Here’s what John Mueller said:

“The aspect of just putting keywords into the domain name, I think that’s kind of overrated in the sense that… I don’t know… our search algorithms try to understand the quality and relevance of a website overall.

And the domain name is not really the strongest factor there.

So that’s something… If you’re trying to move to a domain and just add keywords in there, my guess is that the whole move to a new domain part will be much more complicated can cause more issues than any value you would get out of just having a keyword extra in the domain.

So I would try to avoid doing that.

But again it’s not related to hyphens or anything like that.

It’s really just like, should I add a keyword into my domain name or not?”

Should You Use Hyphenated Domain  Names?

Hyphenated domain names was an old school tactic that fell out of favor many years ago because there wasn’t a ranking benefit from that and the perception that hyphens made a site look spammy.

But sometimes one must never overestimate how site visitors feel about something. Sometimes what people are okay with can be surprising.

Is there an advantage to hyphenated domain names?  When was the last time you saw a hyphenated domain name rank?

Citations

Read Google article noting they downgraded parked domains:
Search Quality Highlights: New Monthly Series on Algorithm Changes

Should Hyphens Be Avoided in Domain Names?
Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 41:30 Minute Mark

Searchenginejournal.com

GOOGLE

Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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