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Special Characters in <Title> to make the listing stand out
Will it hurt SEO?
Arnett




msg:191987
 12:12 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I found a site that has "&#9733;" at the beginning of the title tag. The effect is to add a star to the beginning of the title. It really makes the Google listing stand out. Will it hurt SEO efforts? If not is there a table of characters that can be used?

 

jcoronella




msg:191988
 12:54 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Lots of people and companies are doing this without any effect on their rankings.

toolkit




msg:191989
 1:32 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google now seems to show a question mark (?) instead of the star sign

roddy




msg:191990
 1:50 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

There was a massive discussion about this recently I think - have a search . . .

This has been very common in Chinese listings for a long time - but Chinese surfers are much more tolerant of the animations, pop-ups and so on that we would class as annoying.

I'd say it depends on your audience. If you have a site aimed at kids, it might help. If you are trying to find people to buy expensive technical equipment . . .

Roddy

Arnett




msg:191991
 1:58 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google now seems to show a question mark (?) instead of the star sign.

The listing that I saw this morning showed a star.

indiandomain




msg:191992
 2:13 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

how do i add the star?
this doesnt work
<title>"&9733;"New Page 1</title>

Fiver




msg:191993
 3:11 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google now seems to show a question mark (?) instead of the star sign

my understanding is that it will be a star for some of the people, some of the time. If you happen to have the right webfonts installed for it. And whatever google datacenter you're poking feels like it at that moment.

A lot of the time though, a lot of the people see very ugly (?)'s

boxercrazy




msg:191994
 3:31 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would think it would hurt SEO from a technical stand point IMHO. It is my understanding the title is based on density of the keyword in the title. For instance if optimizing for "Widget Gifts" a title of "Widget Gifts" would rank better than a title of "Widget Gifts, Shirts, Statues" because the density for the word targeted is higher. The addition of one or two characters to the title for a symbol I think would give a lower score, everything else being equal. Since everything else is never equal, I would think you would not even notice an effect on rankings.

onedumbear




msg:191995
 4:42 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

The only way i know that it may effect "SEO" is that the characters for a special symbol in a title tag take up valueable space that could be a keyword. The closer to the beginning of title a word is, the more important the word is deemed. You don't want your most important word to be &#42; .
Here's a tip, if the charecter is on your keyboard, use it instead of the html. Keyboard charecters will not show up as question marks and take up less space.
I also have used a few different symbols in my title tags, with html, and they display correctly in all the big SE's except ink, but they work in MSN.
Occasionaly on google i have seen a question mark instead of a special symbol, but it has always appeared correctly again within 24 hrs.

I saw a happy face somewhere yesterday, it's &#9786;

Fiver




msg:191996
 5:22 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I saw a happy face somewhere yesterday, it's &#9786;

And if I look at the same SERP, I wont see a happy face.

Don't expect that your customers will always see what you do.

too much information




msg:191997
 6:17 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I actually considered cloaking my title so that robots would see the star, and others would see another character. The characters usually don't display in the titlebar of the browser so they wouldn't know what it was. (Except Safari)

My goal was for any of my competators that tried to steal it, they would steal the wrong character. Such as &#36;&#36;&#36; which is a dollar sign three times in a row, or &#8470; which is No with the 'o' being raised as in the abbreviation for 'number'.

I thought it would be funny because they wouldn't know what was going to happen until it was in the SERPS and then it would take a while for it to come back down. :D And you would know which competators were looking at your stuff.

Man I'm evil...

But can you imagine the look on someone's face if they saw the word 'No' next to their name in the serps!

Here's my third favorite &#9794; which is the symbol for male, like what Austin Powers wore around his neck. hehehe...

James_Dale




msg:191998
 6:21 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've used #9733 at the beginning of my title since being inspired by the original #9733 debate a while back, and it works fine.

Yidaki




msg:191999
 6:47 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

>the original #9733 debate a while back

Big discussion ... somehow funny ... not that long ago but it's nowhere now. Can't find any thread about it allthough i did a lot of searches - at google as well as using the WebmasterWorld site search. Did it go to the bin? A link somebody?

The only thing i can find about using a star in your title [google.com] is your profile, James. ;)

James_Dale




msg:192000
 7:35 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

[webmasterworld.com...]

Yidaki




msg:192001
 7:55 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

hmm ... if even a thread about that issue gets somehow lost at google, i suppose that it's not the master's trick. ;)

onedumbear




msg:192002
 10:16 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Try a search on the keywords "ticket shopping" at google. In the number 1 spot is out of 5,010,000 results is a listing with an html happy face.

If any one see's something different, maybe mention what browser you are using.

keyplyr




msg:192003
 10:40 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)


top listing for "ticket shopping" has a question mark using IE6

BaseVinyl




msg:192004
 10:47 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Using mozilla I see a shiriveled something that could be a winking face in google for that listing but when I go to the actual page I see question marks in the page title. I think it's like reading the classified ads in a newspaper and the goons put stuff like "AAAAAAAA Car for sale" and jam the headline full of A's so it is at the top of the page...it just makes me wanna look somewhere else. If it smells like cheese so it probably is cheese.

rfgdxm1




msg:192005
 11:19 pm on Oct 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

>top listing for "ticket shopping" has a question mark using IE6

Not using IE6 on this Windows ME box. It is indeed a smiley face here. As for Google penalizing in terms of lower rankings, I very seriously doubt this. If Google cared, they'd just ignore these special characters and not display them in the SERPs.

proton




msg:192006
 12:47 am on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

The top listing for "ticket shopping" has a question mark using IE6.

Use your title for keywords.

Chris_D




msg:192007
 1:31 am on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm also getting the question mark on the top listing for "ticket shopping" using IE6 with all latest patches on a Win 98 box.

plasma




msg:192008
 1:46 am on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

The title tag is far too important to fool around with.

onedumbear




msg:192009
 2:05 am on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

with all due respect plasma... The title tag is far too important NOT to fool around with.

I think we can conclude and put to rest a few questions here that keep popping up.
1)You will not be penalized for using special characters
2)Special characters on a keyboard will appear correctly in most browsers and search engines.
3)Characters that require html will often appear as question marks or boxes in many search engines and browsers.
4)As a general rule of thumb, you are better off using a title tag for keywords

too much information




msg:192010
 6:01 am on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I see question marks in IE on the Mac, and Safari in the google search.

But when you hit the home page, IE shows question marks in the titlebar while safari shows the smileys.

I know we are probably pushing the TOS, but does anyone have a search where the star show up? I'm curious about how it displays on different browsers, and if it depends on which fonts are installed.

As a side note, I created an ASCII table script that displays as many characters as I have patience to wait for and I see different amounts of characters depending on which browser I view it with.

When a character doesn't display I see an empty box. Maybe this has something to do with foreign language support?

Arnett




msg:192011
 5:17 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

Try a search on the keywords "ticket shopping" at google. In the number 1 spot is out of 5,010,000 results is a listing with an html happy face.

I guess that answers my question about whether special characters in the title hurt SEO.

If any one see's something different, maybe mention what browser you are using.

I saw the smiley face in Opera 7.11,Netscape 7.1 and IE 6.0.2800.1106

Arnett




msg:192012
 5:20 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

how do i add the star?
this doesnt work
<title>"&9733;"New Page 1</title>

Take out the quotation marks.

Arnett




msg:192013
 5:31 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I know we are probably pushing the TOS, but does anyone have a search where the star show up? I'm curious about how it displays on different browsers, and if it depends on which fonts are installed.

The serps that I found it in were for an adult topic.

mil2k




msg:192014
 9:16 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I see a smiley. Using IE 6.0 and OS is XP.

aleksl




msg:192015
 11:13 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

In case anyone still cares about it....I see smiley face in SERPS, and when I open a site, I see "square" symbols - IE6 on WinXP.

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