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Bob Hawkes

Want a Hyphen with that Domain Name?

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By Bob Hawkes, Oct 24, 2019
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Many domain investors have avoided domain names with hyphens. It is not rare to see in the NamePros Requests section the wording “no hyphens”. @Rob Monster of Epik recently started a thread arguing that hyphenated .com domain names are back in fashion. He also indicated a plan to increase holdings of hyphenated domain names.

    Domain investors came down on both side of the question, with opinions fairly evenly split in an associated poll. About 30% plan to increase domain holdings with hyphens, while almost as many say they will be dumping most of the hyphenated domain names they currently hold.

    In this post I look at whether statistics support the assertion that domain names with hyphens are selling more briskly lately. I look at some factors to consider if you do decide to add domain names with hyphens to your portfolio.


    NameBio Sales Data
    The NameBio database can be used to look at the number and average prices of .com extension domain name sales with and without hyphens. The data I used only includes sales at or above $100, and the statistics quoted below are updated to Oct 22, 2019.
    • Over the last five years there have been on average 1213 sales of hyphenated .com domain names per year, compared to about 70,200 overall .com sales per year. Therefore, sales including hyphens represent 1.7% of all .com sales. The average sales price of domains including at least one hyphen was $658, compared to more than double that, $1518, for all .com sales over the five year period.
    • If looking only at 2017, sales with hyphens represented almost 1.5% of all .com domain name sales. The average price was $783 compared to $1471 overall.
    • In 2018 1.8% of sales include hyphens, with an average price of $562 compared to the overall average of $1259.
    • So far in 2019 hyphenated domain names represent 2.5% of overall .com sales. The average price of sales including hyphens is just $480, compared to $1335 in the overall .com sales. However, it should be kept in mind that the sale of voice.com for $30 million strongly impacts the average for 2019. If that one sale is excluded, the average price would be about $944 instead of $1335.
    The statistical data does seem to support the assertion that .com domain names with hyphens are selling more frequently recently, although they still represent less than 3% of all .com sales.

    In terms of prices, domain names with hyphens on average sell for lower prices compared to overall sales in the extension.

    I also looked at whether there may be more dramatic changes in recent months. If I look at just the last month, about 3.1% of .com sales include hyphens. While the average price of a hyphenated domain name is a bit higher in the last month ($570) compared to all of 2019, it is still significantly less than the average for all .com sales.

    It should be kept in mind that NameBio combines both retail sales, by domain investors to final users, and wholesale sales to domain investors. It is possible that the lower prices and higher rates of sales are due to increased domain investor acquisitions of domain names that include hyphens. Also, remember that only certain venues report to NameBio, and that may introduce bias in the data.

    If you want to do your own research with NameBio, remember that the ASCII representation of internationalized domain names using xn-- will show up if you simply search for domain names including a hyphen. The NameBio search exclusion feature, invoked with the !, will exclude a term that follows. Therefore a search with -!-- will show domain names with hyphens, but not those associated with internationalized characters.

    Are Hyphenated Domains a Good Investment?
    The sales percentages and average prices do not alone answer whether domain names including hyphens are a sound investment. We need the probability that a domain name in each category sells, to help answer that question. One could have the situation where hyphens represent only 1% of sales, but if almost no one was holding them, then they might still be selling at a good relative rate for those who hold them.

    Fortunately, the advance search feature of Dofo makes it possible to easily find the number of domain names currently for sale with any set of characteristics. For example, with Dofo advanced search you can search for all .com domain names for sale with and without hyphens. On the date I checked, there were just over 15,240,000 .com domain names for sale, of which about 544,750 included hyphens.

    Therefore 3.6% of the .com domain names listed for sale include hyphens. We saw earlier that for 2019 only about 2.5% of sales in .com in 2019 include hyphens, and prices are lower. The difference is shrinking, but unless for some reason domain names with hyphens are more likely to sell on venues not reporting to NameBio, data seems to suggest that domain names without hyphens are slightly better investments.

    Remember that past sales are just that - how well something sold in the past. It is certainly possible that the increasing sales rate of domain names including hyphens in 2019 is an indication of a brighter future for domains with hyphens.

    Note that the Dofo advanced search interface requires you to access it with a computer as many forms of mobile do not support the interface. Also, you will need to open the More Filters option, and then select hyphens.

    Biggest Sales Including Hyphens
    I used NameBio to look at the 2019 highest-value sales for domain names including hyphens.
    1. blog-city.com $30,500
    2. education-world.com $20,022
    3. SEO-browser.com $16,750
    4. art-invest.com $9934
    5. KPMG-institutes.com $8601
    6. norse-corp.com $8600
    7. body-fit.com $6591
    8. webcreator-fr.com $6426
    9. be-u.com $6047
    10. BMI-calculator.com $5885
    I also looked at the highest-value sales of all time.
    1. hotel-reservation.com $200,916 (2009)
    2. 18-wheeler.com $82,390 (2007)
    3. faire-part.com $59,056 (2008)
    4. sci-fi.com $50,000 (2017)
    5. black-jack.com $49,657 (2017)
    6. online-games.com $48,000 (2012)
    7. assurance-vie.com $43,500 (2009)
    8. bike-components.com $42,577 (2012)
    9. all-in.com $40,000 (2008)
    10. web-design.com $38,498 (2013)
    What About Other TLDs?
    It is well known among domain investors that hyphens are more popular in Germany and a few other countries. While I did not do an exhaustive study of hyphen use in other top level domains (TLDs), in the .de extension 17.4% of sales include hyphens while 8.6% of .fr domain names include hyphens and 4.6% of .ch extension names. The rate of hyphens in .es extension sales at 1.9% is not much different than .com.

    Compared to .com, hyphens seem more popular in the .org domain extension, with 5.5% of sales including hyphens. On the other hand, hyphens are very rare in .co sales with only 0.3%.

    The Good and Bad of Hyphens
    Apart from how well they are selling, are hyphens good or bad in terms of effectiveness as domain names?

    Because most domain names do not include hyphens, one argument made against hyphens is that they therefore fail the radio test, since someone hearing the term will assume no hyphen. That of course would change should hyphens become more commonplace in the future.

    In the early days of search, hyphens helped in breaking phrases so that search engines would correctly interpret the meaning. With modern search algorithms that is no longer important.

    Our world is, in my opinion, becoming more visual. Many times we first see a domain name on a sign, vehicle, tweet or some other visual format rather than hearing someone mention it. In this case it might be argued that since the hyphen makes a multiple word domain name more instantly interpreted, it may improve memorability.

    In looking at the lists of top sales, it seems to me that domain names including acronyms may be clearer when there is a hyphen.

    Also, it would seem logical that words that are normally written with a hyphen would also have a hyphen in the corresponding domain name. For example all-in.com, one of the top sales, is normally written with a hyphen.

    The Grammarly Blog has a helpful section on when hyphens should be used. Language is of course fluid, and over time many compound words that were originally written with hyphens, like e-mail and teen-ager, have now become closed compound words written now normally as email and teenager.

    Another use of a hyphen with a domain name may be in showing the intended split when more than one interpretation is possible. This is particularly the case when one split possibility is negative or rude.

    Have Your Say!
    So what do you think about domain names with hyphens?
    • Have you sold domain names with hyphens?
    • Do you have any in your portfolio now?
    • Are you increasing your holdings of hyphenated domain names?
    • What types of domain names with hyphens do you think are best?
    If you have a domain name that you think works particularly effectively with a hyphen, feel free to share it in the replies.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. Bob Hawkes

    About The Author — Bob Hawkes

    Domain analyst, writer and educator, with particular interests in domain name phrases and non-business uses for domain names. I am a risk averse domain investor who only invests modest amounts in a variety of extensions and niches. Don't hesitate to contact me - I like to help!

    This is Bob Hawkes's 12th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

    Home Page:
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  5. Comments (133)

  6. Makbliss

    Makbliss Cancer Survivor, domain and crypto enthusiasts Gold Account

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  7. NonHipster

    NonHipster Established Member

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    Not a big fan of the hyphen and in our opinion better to find a domain name without a hyphen. That being said, Re-ElectTrump.com may be a good example of a hyphen.
     
  8. NilamDomain

    NilamDomain Established Member

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    Awesome stuff Bob! I just found a good hyphenated expired domain, not sure if I should buy it. It is in the "adult" video industry.
     
  9. Don Gondon

    Don Gondon Established Member

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    Thanks for the hint, Bob! Just registered
    [​IMG]
     
  10. b2betrade

    b2betrade Upgraded Member Blue Account

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    i sold gps-server.com last year for $1500
    currently holding me-n.com & s-py.com
     
  11. markter

    markter Markter ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks Bob. Good info.
    I'm a selective name hoarder.
    My-Name.com is one of my older ones. I'm the original registrant of all my names. 1997 - 2002 mostly.
     
  12. MTB

    MTB Established Member

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    Excellent post Bob!
    You touched on the German-language extensions which is a very important market for hyphenated domains
    I would be interested to know the average sale stats for .ch, .de and .at for this analysis?

    Looking at the top 100 .de sales from the past year (from NameBio)
    Dollar volume $1.4 million, average price $14,500
    There were 8 hyphenated sales totaling $51,358 which is an average of $6,417 (around half the average for .de domains without hyphens), but there were a few big sales for un-hyphenated so that scews the figures. It seems the average .de sales figures with and without hyphens aren't generally that far apart

    These were the 8 sales (including 2 registered on the same day for the same amount!)
    • robert-auer.de ($8,523, 25 October 2019)
    • casino-bonus.de ($7,298, 5 July 2019)
    • de-erste.de ($6,795, 24 January 2019)
    • forum-recht.de ($6,068, 14 October 2019)
    • zitat-des-tages.de ($5,753, 28 February 2019)
    • e-sat.de ($5,692, 23 January 2019)
    • c-a.de ($5,692, 23 January 2019)
    • safe-work.de ($5,537, 13 September 2019)
    It's also important to note that many local German, Swiss and Austrian companies use hyphens, whereas it's increasingly not so common among the larger companies
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
  13. Lox

    Lox ----- Gold Account VIP

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    Good work Bob! Top!

    (Newbies! You should not buy nonsense domains wordy-wordy.com (just to make an example where the things can get south. Study first!)
     
  14. Soofi

    Soofi Top Member PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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  15. Hitesh Wadhwa

    Hitesh Wadhwa Established Member

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  16. NameDeck

    NameDeck Design. Develop. Deploy. VIP

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    Great research that should have been done before rob stated 'hyphens are back in fashion' to support this claim.

    That thread was only fuelled by gut feelings and observation, now we all know.

    PS. Still wouldn't go as far as saying they're back in fashion but I like the solid data that supports the claim there is an increase in hyphenated sales.
     
  17. sharastar

    sharastar Established Member

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    Thanks @Bob Hawkes this gives us some idea of what to go for with the hyphens wonderful post as always.

    One of my first handreg was with hyphens (Searched for the general Non-hyphen and was found reg that time did not know about these aftermarkets and stuffs lol ) and I still hold that one as of now.

    No solid data with the hyphens yet but a good trend is found now.Can the trend last for years down the lane and become a wave to give enough return to the early adopters (Domain Investors who still hold and reg hyphens) that time shall answer (Market shall answer with end user buying it a lot).

    BTW Thanks for your awesome research @MTB which helps us to dig deep to find the more answers.

    1.)Could they (Local German Companies) use it due to unavailability of the concerned general name (Non hyphen names) being already in use by a larger companies.
    or
    2.)Do they not have enough capital to buy those general name (Non hyphens names) which are available.
    or
    3.) Do they love the hyphenated names a lot and so they go for it.

    Still leads us to more Research to find it out!
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
  18. Domains@ddict

    [email protected] Established Member

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    I own get-storage .com and i like it :)

    Btw good post again. Thanks @Bob Hawkes
     
  19. Michael Ehrhardt

    Michael Ehrhardt Upgraded Member Gold Account VIP

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    block-chain.com sold 1.000.000.-$

    two word domain with hyphen
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
  20. Michael Ehrhardt

    Michael Ehrhardt Upgraded Member Gold Account VIP

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    1a-krankenversicherung.de 2009 11.900 EUR
    0800-auskunft.de 2009 4.000 EUR
     
  21. Reddstagg

    Reddstagg Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    I've a few

    www. i-am-ibiza .com
    www. i-am-ibiza .life
    www. i-love-ibiza .life
    www. i-am-woke .com
    www. men-ouflage .com
    www. top-car .rentals
    www. tres-dos-uno .com
    www. we-is-woke .com
    www. woke-the .world
    www. x-genetics .com
    www. zu-casa .com

    I'd welcome any feedback or comments in general.

    Thank you
     
  22. Joshua Mayowa

    Joshua Mayowa Established Member

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    Many thanks Bob.

    I think since nearly all the good .coms have been picked, hyphenated names might be a strong alternative soon. Also @Rob-M gave alarm of the seemingly resurrection

    I hold:
    private-safe.com and
    pro-attorney.com

    Seeing it sold soon!
     
  23. sharastar

    sharastar Established Member

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    All the best in seeing it sold soon @Joshua Mayowa (y)

    I love the private-safe.com one.
     
  24. Recons.Com

    Recons.Com Top Member VIP

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    My rule is if word+word.com version would be priced by me at 10,000$+, then word dash word.com might be worth investing and pricing at about 10%-20% of non-dash.

    I probably have only around 5 dash names and sold one in 2019 for $2,500.
     
  25. Brands.International

    Brands.International formerly lolwarrior Gold Account VIP

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    Well, for new gTLDs, I would suggest invest in STRONG 1 worders. Period. I would consider no dashes in new gTLDs at the monent, this is really too soon for them .. the probabilities of resale of the names you just mentioned in your post are imo converting to 0, at the moment.

    In .com, the dashes can be considered, but if you go this route, choose 2 strong keywords which kind of make sense together, or can form nice brandable, and put dash between them. Make sure the combo is not trademarked though :)
     
  26. Reddstagg

    Reddstagg Upgraded Member Gold Account

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    Thank you for taking the time to reply. Although conventional wisdom would appear to favour your views I can see hyphenated names whether old or new becoming more popular.

    This maybe because the non hyphenated is too expensive.

    I am in no way an expert in this field at all and some were registered for loose change and even if I did sell some in the future it would be a good ROI.

    Incidentally, 6 of my top 10 appraised domains that I have hand regd are non .coms and this too would go against conventional wisdom.

    So, am I just skilled at picking domain names or has the tide already begun to turn?

    Good-luck-for-now
     
  27. wot

    wot Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Good post.

    Boy-Band.com

    Greetings-Card.com

    Vehicle-Part.com
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
  28. Soofi

    Soofi Top Member PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Nicely done there MTB!
     
  29. BeyondTheDot

    BeyondTheDot Upgraded Member Blue Account

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    Great post Bob and well researched, thanks!

    Admittedly the post by Rob Monster that “hyphenated .com domains are back in fashion” got me thinking and after reading your post now it really urges me to ask these three (million dollar) questions;

    1. Why do hyphenated domain names only pass the radio test mainly in Germany?
    Maybe they have some special trick to instantly have the listener NOT go to the unhyphenated version of the domain.

    2. If, the preferred spelling of any two words; the so-called “wordy-wordy.com” by @Lox is normally typed with a space instead of without, then how else would one get a space in the URL other then including a hyphen?

    3. When hyphens improve readability for us humans then why would we not prefer to use the hyphenated version instead?
    Obviously the search engines do not mind but I guess we are too lazy to type in “-“. Myself not included.:whistle:


    I picked up a few hyphens recently. One of which is; weather-radars.com.

    But my best one and if not the best hyphenated domain of all time (some time) is; 2-1.uno
    This makes 2-1.com worthless in my opinion.:sorry:
    :stop:
    If my math (match) is correct; the TLD is the result of the SLD.;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2019
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