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. blog-city.com $30,500 education-world.com $20,022 SEO-browser.com $16,750 art-invest.com $9934 KPMG-institutes.com $8601 norse-corp.com $8600 body-fit.com $6591 webcreator-fr.com $6426 be-u.com $6047 BMI-calculator.com $5885 I also looked at the highest-value sales of all time. hotel-reservation.com $200,916 (2009) 18-wheeler.com $82,390 (2007) faire-part.com $59,056 (2008) sci-fi.com $50,000 (2017) black-jack.com $49,657 (2017) online-games.com $48,000 (2012) assurance-vie.com $43,500 (2009) bike-components.com $42,577 (2012) all-in.com $40,000 (2008) 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.