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Does adding "Solved" reduce rankings?

 10:12 am on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a discussion forum where a moderator has asked if I can add a prefix option that says Solved. The idea is to mark threads as solved so other don't need to participate in them anymore.

Before: Fixing Widget issue

After: [Solved] Fixing Widget issue

If I add this feature, I can see how it would benefit users of my forum. However, since I have added another word to the thread title, it will also affect the page title (which defaults to the thread title).

Do you think this will adversely affect rankings for each thread, since the word Solved will be an added word and so dilute the match?



[edited by: goodroi at 1:04 pm (utc) on Sep 17, 2012]
[edit reason] Widgetized [/edit]



 1:17 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google's handling of the title tag has changed over the years and it will likely continue to change so what is accurate today is probably not going to be accurate tomorrow.

Here are just a few of the different ways title tags have been treated OR might be handled in the future:
-Rewarding pages that have the keyword appear first in title tag
-Penalizing pages that change title tag without changing page content (sign of SEO manipulation)
-Rewarding pages with high CTR in serps (which is heavily influenced by user friendly title tag)
-Penalizing title tags that are extremely long (sign of keyword stuffing)
-Penalizing pages with words in title tags that don't appear in site content (sign of possible bait & switch)

The only way to determine what is currently true and what is false is to run some tests.


 1:30 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think it would be risky to make your proposed change. Instead, why not put a note at the bottom of the thread announcing that it has been closed.


 1:47 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I dunno. I find it extremely frustrating when I'm looking for the answer to a problem or error message, and all I get are pages with same question and no answer. All things being equal, I'd probably click on the link that said SOLVED first, if I were searching Google for a solution.

but then it better by god actually have a solution. just sayin. If it's just CLOSED, that's another kettle of fish.


 2:01 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

This sounds like a case of over optimization. I also agree with Netmeg, if I see a page in the search engine with SOLVED prefixing the title, I'm more likely to click it if I'm trying to solve a problem


 3:06 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Also agree with seeing the word solved, but if you are concerned, you could use an image or some sort of "solved" icon.



 3:47 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Whilst I'm quite likely to click on an answer with "SOLVED" in the title, it's extremely frustrating to find an out-of-date, wrong or incomplete answer and the thread closed such that no further comments can be added. There's several websites with tens of thousands of entries with this problem.


 3:54 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I too prefer results when I see the word "solved" in the description. I can't say for sure about that word in particular but I've noticed when I prefix the word "defined" or "definition" to a paragraph (or even add it to meta description or title tags, H2, H3), it gets boosted in SERPs above others. I suspect that there are some very descriptive words that trigger algorithm happy dances indicating it has found the absolute answer to the query and therefor boosts it up in ranking as being the best possibility.

It's one of the very top level website optimization techniques I use consistently in copy writing for the web. It wouldn't surprise me if there are a select group of words programmed into algorithms that are strong signals of authority. If there is such a list, "solved" would definitely be one of them.

Searchers are on a question and answer mission so be conscious of not only the answers but also the words that are "pointers of authority" such as "solved". There are hundreds of very small nuances in website optimization, that once combined, have tremendous influence on gaining top ranking.


 4:20 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Put up a separate index for "solved" posts.


 10:17 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

If we take Google's call for good user experience as complete gospel, I don't know how putting "solved" on solved questions would meet this better. By everything Google has said, it should reward you for this. But, of course, not everything they say happens.

Still, I'd put the word in the title for solved questions. I know I prefer it, and I'm sure your users probably do, too.

Robert Charlton

 4:50 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

You might try adding it to the meta description (assuming you have one), close enough to phrases likely to be searched that it will get displayed.

This isn't as prominent as the title nor as certain to be returned, but it's less likely to change ranking position. You could then track "solved" pages for a while, to see if that affects click-through. If it does, then perhaps risk it on some titles (and first try it on lesser pages before rolling it out sitewide).

IMO, adding a word to the beginning of a title is taking a risk. Google is a machine, and we can't assume it could connect all the dots a human could in interpreting the word.


 6:16 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

You should not have any negative long term effects from this. You might experience a temporary loss in rankings but they should be restored shortly.

I have a lot of experience with changing title tags and I try to avoid doing it but overall I have never really been hurt long term by it. And I have a site with thousands of indexed pages where at times I have changed them all at once.


 6:40 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

The idea is to mark threads as solved so other don't need to participate in them anymore.

Good answers so far, great thread. Now a different point that hasn't been mentioned yet. I really don't like the idea of any "feature" that discourages members from posting, particularly new members, no matter how old or "solved" it is. A forum should endeavor to get people posting, not hold them back.

If the new post is off-topic or repetitive spin it off into it's own discussion. If it's on topic then let it continue, that's a bonus for the discussion and your SEO. It seems the folks likely to do this are new members. Getting folks out of lurk mode is a big deal. So why create a feature that might keep someone in lurk mode?

I prefer features that encourage discussion. I understand that the idea behind locking threads is to encourage a new post, but I believe that approach can backfire because it's easier (for numerous reasons) to post to an existing thread than it is to create a new discussion.


 7:27 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I will go with adding solved in the Title tag itself as it might increase the CTR and hence the rankings in the long run. Though some initial short-term drop can occur on account of Google figuring out the change and user behavior.
However, there is no guarantee that Google will pick your title AS IS even if you update Solved/Answered.

PS: How good it would have been if there was a schema format to mark forum thread as answered, closed/solved,...


 4:11 am on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)


There was a leaked Google rater document from June 2012 (linked to from the Shoemoney site I believe). On page 94, under the *poor* rating, is an example that states a page is of poor quality if there is no answer to a question yet but it takes time to figure that out.

That suggests that pages with answers and pages that make it clear quickly that there is no answer yet rank more highly than those in which you waste a lot of time reading/scrolling only to find out there isn't an answer(yet).

Your question then becomes "Will a Google rater determine quickly that a question is still unanswered if I don't have the word *solved* in the title" to which the answer is no(because that's not generally expected or in use).

An answer = good
An indication there is no answer yet = good
Saying solved when simply reading would tell you that = no benefit

Googlebot doesn't care but the raters do. This is actually an important topic for forum owners given that Google raters are instructed to answer the question.

NOTE: Allowing members to rate responses and floating the best responses to the top is apparently appreciated by Google raters, even on low quality pages.


 4:27 am on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Googlebot doesn't care but the raters do.

And that means when Google is deciding whether an algorithm change is good or not, a negative opinion from the human raters can really matter a lot.

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