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  1. #1
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    SEO and Commas, Hyphens and Pipes in Page Titles
    I wait for the day that I read a united answer on how commas, hyphens and pipes in page titles effects SEO. It seems that the day may be getting closer, with all the advances with Google algorithms. But until then, you can still find a lot of different opinions.

    This is my understanding about it:

    Comma (,) and hyphens (-) and em-hyphen ( ) are now ignored and the pipe (|) is understood as a separator of phrases.

    So how would this information influence how I write page titles?

    For many years I liked using the main category or topic, then narrow it down a bit more like a subcategory or subtopic. For example, if I was creating a page of daily deals for Nike athletic shoes, I might have done this:

    1) Daily Shoe Deals - Athletic Shoes - Nike Shoes
    2) Daily Shoe Deals | Athletic Shoes | Nike Shoes
    3) Daily Shoe Deals (Athletic Shoes) Nike Shoes


    My goal would have been to try to show up in search for "daily shoe deals" as well as athletic and Nike shoes.

    I probably would have gone with #1, which would have been a mistake. Based on the knowledge that Google ignores hyphens and em-hyphens, then this is how Google would read #1 and #3:

    'Daily Shoe Deals Athletic Shoes Nike Shoes'

    One long weird phrase that has a lot of "shoes" in it. The page would likely get slapped for keyword stuffing.

    With the second example Google would read that the page has information about "daily deals" and about "athletic shoes" and "about nike shoes," but not necessarily about "daily deals on Nike shoes."

    Also, making sure page titles short and to the point is important. Keeping all of this mind, now I would probably title that page as: Daily Deals on Nike Shoes.

    I am not a SEO expert, not by any stretch of the imagination, and many times my page titles are the most neglected part of the piece in terms of SEO. Now I'm wondering if that same rules apply to meta descriptions, keywords and subtitles?

    (I know - meta keywords aren't supposed to be important anymore, but what about bad ones on old evergreen articles?)

    Anyway, so that's what I was thinking about at 3 a.m.

    What are your thoughts? Do you use any characters or punctuation in page titles? What about quotations? I've heard that Google treats those like a stop sign - no passing allowed, but I'm not sure.
    Last edited by leeann; June 29th, 2014 at 05:22 AM.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

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  3. #2
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I've always tried to keep page titles short, to the point, and without punctuation.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  5. #3
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound View Post
    For what it's worth, I've always tried to keep page titles short, to the point, and without punctuation.
    With that in mind, let's say that you wrote an article about SEO and commas, hyphens and pipes in page titles. How would you title it?
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  6. #4
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    I've always tried to avoid punctuation in page titles unless necessary. Then I try to make it emulate natural writing.

    When I first looked at your three examples - I thought to myself - simplify it to: Daily Deals on Nike Shoes. As I read further I saw that is exactly what you suggested.

    As for those old(er) evergreen pages with everything (supposedly) contrary to whatever the SEO "experts" were (are, will) saying...well...they still seem to be working. At least those with interesting CONTENT are still doing well. (Our old beach site has had search results for "4474 different keyphrases" this month - and that's with the Goog no longer defining what phrases/terms are being used.)

    If I were to title your page, "SEO and commas, hyphens and pipes in page titles," would you understand that? If so, then the search engine(s) should, too. Keep in mind, however, that I am NOT an SEO expert.

    Until the Goog actually publishes exactly what their algos are doing at any given time, all the "experts" can do is make guesses about how to hit a moving target. The "secret sauce" should always involve putting content with "value" into the building of a web page/pages/site.
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  8. #5
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    Sorry, I can't resist playing the devil's advocate.
    The truth of the matter is, Google will never publish exactly what their algos are doing because they don't have any more of a clue than any of us! (And, if they did have a clue, they sure as hell wouldn't tell us!)
    Google is every bit as schizoid, paranoid, and psychotic as the Abrahamic God Who has had the world in a vice-like grip for the past 2000 years.
    I'm sorry if that offends anybody, it's neither intentional, nor co-incidental. It's entirely unavoidable.
    Google has us all chasing our tails in circles, trying to second guess them, hanging on every word of disinformation mongers... Meanwhile they're quietly taking over everything.

  9. #6
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    The truth of the matter is, Google will never publish exactly what their algos are doing...
    Absolutely right about that. My statement was purely hypothetical.
    Google has us all chasing our tails in circles, trying to second guess them, hanging on every word of disinformation mongers...
    Not me - that's for the gullible - I never worry about building pages for search engines. I build pages for human readers and so far (15+ years) it has been working pretty well.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  11. #7
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    As Bill infers, if I had a page about "SEO and commas, hyphens and pipes" I'd write out the words, but I'd have to have at least one "," for that trio of topics. But I'd do my best to avoid it.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
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  13. #8
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    I've done with & w/o punctuation. I stopped responding awhile ago to Google's pronouncements. I just don't care any more, it's tweak now, untweak later. They're the SEO Nazis.
    Renée
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  15. #9
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    I usually find a way around most punctuation by rewording the title, but what has everyone experienced for things you can't avoid, like "Mother's Day"?
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  16. #10
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Write them like they make sense when read -

    Use punctuation all the time - no issues...
    Last edited by Convergence; June 29th, 2014 at 01:24 PM. Reason: punctuation - just kidding, spelling
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  18. #11
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    IMO this is either a non-factor, or such an infinitesimally small factor that it's not worth worrying about. Just my opinion, though.
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  19. #12
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh View Post
    IMO this is either a non-factor, or such an infinitesimally small factor that it's not worth worrying about. Just my opinion, though.
    I agree to some extent, but like others have mentioned, it is probably best to avoid all punctuation, unless the title will look poorly written without it, or won't make sense.

    I read one article that said Google now "prefers" colons over hyphens in page titles. If true (who can say?) that is a huge switch from just a few years ago when the word was that it would kill a page.

    The writer made a very good observation. Amazon titles now have colons on all pages (I tested about 10) and as he said, do they know something we don't?

    And Renée, I dream for the day that I can get in that mind-frame. I try, but it only lasts until the next time I check stats. How did we let the big G get so much control?
    Last edited by leeann; June 29th, 2014 at 07:08 PM.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  20. #13
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    The "secret sauce" should always involve putting content with "value" into the building of a web page/pages/site.
    You are right.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

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  22. #14
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, the Google seems to prefer HYPHENS.

    Why? Because that's what they use when they rewrite my page titles in the SERPs...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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