Do long domain names really effect user experience?
Yes, in several ways:
Long domains are difficult to remember. A shorter one tends to be more memorable. The mind can only recall 4 things at once in its working memory. Even then, the words need to make sense (and not keyboard mash).
Ease of Error
Users may have difficulty typing out the domain. If the words are keyboard mash, it will definitely open it up for error but if the domain is made of easy words, the automatic behaviour learned on the keyboard will make up for it.
Ease of Access (Google is not the only way to reach your site)
There's more than 1 way to access your site and SEO is not always the answer. Here are other places which could contain your domain name:
- Banner Advertising: There is the debate regarding whether or not the domain name should be included in online advertising as the CTA.
- Radio Advertising: Having a domain that's hard to say, will be hard to remember on air.
- Print Applications (Business Cards, Brochures, Billboards, Subway Ads, Swag): Including it in print will be difficult to do with long names. It impedes on being able to include the domain in a large readable font as you'll need to struggle with fit. Also, because the user will have to glance back and forth between your print piece and the screen, having it shorter will reduce the number of glances required to type it. See Ease of Error notation above.
- Word-of-Mouth: See notation below. My own domain is only 3 letters long so people generally remember it but don't necessarily need to write it down. I've found lots of success just telling people my domain name because they could just type it easily in their mobile browser and check out my work right away.
(1) Don't: Use dashes, abbreviations or numbers in your domain name.
See note below regarding Dashes
(2) Come up with a catchy name that's easy to remember and captures your business.
Your domain name needs to be relevant to your business. This choice of words also effects your credibility.
(3) You get much more word-of-mouth if it's a name you can easily say without having to spell out.
The thing you should always remember is that the main keyword in your domain name is not the key for high ranking – it is only one factor among many others. The best solution is to think out an easy, memorable, brand-related and available domain name without having to pay a fortune for it.
This question was also already answered here. This post has tons of great supplementary research as well:
Using long domain name which actually explains the site's purpose
According to https://www.quantcast.com/top-sites-1 - the 20 most popular sites on the internet have an average of 6-7 letters in the domain, and many of them are not very descriptive. Sites such as Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and Bing have no description with the name alone, but these names were chosen as the brand.
Re: Dashes / Hyphens in Domain names
Another common question in regards to SEO and readability. I found this in my research:
"One SeoBook member was curious about this and with no other content changes, changed his domain from hyphenated to non-hyphenated and overnight went from 29th to 1st position for his target keyword."
"First we should acknowledge that using a hyphen or not is rarely going to be a massive deciding factor in a website’s performance. It’s a second or third order effect if at all. If your content is good enough you should rank for that. Google is trying to create a level playing field for their users."
"Avoid hyphens. Hyphens detract from credibility and can act as a spam indicator."
Where possible, avoid using hyphens between words. A domain name with hyphens is harder to describe when said aloud. It is commonly accepted that a domain name with multiple words does not include hyphens.