islamicyearwaxeddonetimedeclared and SEO

The results are in from my SMUG survey in Blogging 304, in which I asked readers to search for two terms and see where SMUG shows up in the rankings to test whether Google treats hyphenated domain names as “spam” domains, as a previous commenter had alleged

Of the five comments so far, it seems that on a search for blue shirt nation this blog typically shows up #4 in the rankings (#8 was the lowest) and for best buy blue shirt nation it’s typically #3.

So the fact that this blog has a URL of instead of doesn’t seem to be causing problems with my posts showing up in Google.

In fact, I think it’s likely the opposite, as this blog shows up at the top in searches for social media university, and even is on the first page for university social media. It appears to me I even do fairly well on global social media and social media global.

Again, some of this might be that Google knows I’m doing the searching and is serving my blog preferentially in the results, so if you’d want to search for some of the italicized terms above and let me know in the comments below how SMUG shows up, I’d appreciate knowing.

This led me to test a post on my son’s new blog (where he’s excited that he’s #1 in Google when you search for his name.) I’ve done an optimized post on his blog to see how long and whether that moves to #1 in the John Aase search. We’ll see what happens, and I’ll update later with the reslts.

Meanwhile, I got thinking some more about how failure to hyphenate, either in a domain name or in post, could make it more difficult for the Google robots to determine what a site or a post is about.

This post, for example, could mean at least one of two things, depending on how the bots parsed the URL.

islamicyearwaxeddonetimedeclared could mean that a major national news magazine had reached the judgment that Muslim ascendancy had ended: Islamic year waxed done, Time declared. Or, in a nonsensical nod to one of the Cartoon Network shows we try to not let John watch (see graphic above), it could be “I slam icy ear wax,” Edd one time declared.

The application for you is that you should hyphenate your URLs and make it easier for Google to understand what your post is about. In this case, particularly with the tags, it might get the picture that this post is about SEO.

This is another good reason to choose WordPress or as your blogging platform, because the default URL for your post comes from its title and because you can edit your URL before posting.

Blogging 304: Does Google Treat Hyphenated Domain Names as Spam?

A reader named Andy raises a point I hadn’t considered, and which I tend to doubt, but I’d like any feedback from someone who may know. And because Social Media University, Global is a research institution for social media higher education, in addition to offering practical, hands-on learning, I’ve devised a project in which we can all participate to test for ourselves whether what Andy said is correct. This post is added to the SMUG curriculum as Blogging 304: Hyphenated Domain Name Research Project.

Andy writes, in a comment in the About Me page:

I can say that domain names with dashes like your’s “social-media-university-global” treated by Google and others like spam domains…

The reason I doubt this is three-fold:

  1. When I Google social media university, this blog comes up in the first two positions in my search results, ahead of American University’s
  2. When I Google blue shirt nation, a post I wrote about Best Buy’s employee social networking site comes up #5 (see below), and if I search for best buy blue shirt nation it’s #3.
  3. What I know about Google bots is they can parse words in URLs better when you separate them with hyphens. So is easier than, because you’re coaching the bot as to where one word stops and the other starts. A URL like could mean mike is now here, mike is nowhere, or perhaps mikei could be an adjective modifying snow. For more discussion of this, see Blogging 201: Google Loves Blogs.

The results I get when I search (and the fact that I get traffic based on search terms like blue shirt nation) doesn’t sound to me like I’m being penalized in Google’s search results.

But who knows? Maybe Google adjusts the results when I’m searching because it associates my computer with my blog, and therefore considers my blog more relevant to me.

So here’s your SMUG assignment:

  1. Open click here to do a Google search for blue shirt nation, followed by a search for best buy blue shirt nation (no quotes around either phrase.) Note the highest position at which you see a search result.
  2. Enter your results in the comments on this post.

I’m looking forward to learning through this SMUG research project, and hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to participate.