A few weeks ago I wanted to run a test on how the various search engines reacted to site architecture styles. Not knowing how the engines would react I wanted to use a throw away domain just in case my tests fell outside of the guidelines. I searched the hundreds of registered domains owned by the company I am with and came across one that was perfect as it also let me test the multiple hyphen issue. I won’t give out the domain but it goes something like this;
Dubya dubya dubya dot keyword hyphen hyphen hyphen keyword dot com
After a few days the new site was indexed by the big three so I went in and checked to see how my tests were working. I am happy to say that in one of the big 3 search engines, all of my tests worked just fine as I was receiving top 10 placements for a goodly portion of my targeted keywords. As far as the indexing goes well, that is a completely different story.
MSN and Yahoo both indexed my site just fine but Google on the other hand sure doesn’t seem to like the spammy use of the hyphens. In fact when using the site:DomainCheck for this site it always seems to return a similarly named site that only uses the one hyphen.
Dubya dubya dubya dot keyword hyphen keyword dot com
Conclusion: MSN doesn’t seem to care about the amount or use of hyphens in the domain. Yahoo will index but at this stage seems to apply some form of penalty. Google seems to be a lot pickier about the placement and amount of hyphens used in the domain. As for the use of hyphens in file names all three seem to be fine with them but I did restrict my search to a max of 4 hyphens used per file names.