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Is a | (pipe) in the title tag for the search engine or the user?

     
11:59 pm on Apr 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Does the | in a Title tag actually do anything for the Search Engines? Or is it for the users? What I mean by this is, Does google see it actually as a separator between keywords or phrases. For example if I have: Matt Cutts|Google|Webspam or Matt Cutts Google Webspam. Will Google see the Title Tag the same? Additionally, which of the two is more beneficial? I could not really find a definitive answer. I hope you guys can help thanks.
1:39 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I really, really hope nobody uses a single - when they mean a dash. (Hard to tell in a fixed-pitch font-- in fact I consistently code — even though I could easily use the dash character.) That is, I wish they wouldn't, but I know many people do. If you absolutely must use the hyphen character, at least use a pair of them.

@lucy24,

Let's say I had the following title tag:

Email Me - Additional Widget Questions

Instead of using a hyphen, should I use an &mdash or &ndash?

Or should I use two hyphens:

Email Me -- Additional Widget Questions
1:51 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Neither. I'd use a word. Some ordinary preposition like "with" "for" "about" "on" -- whatever is appropriate.

Does any browser display the <title> in a fixed-pitch font? I think it's whatever the OS uses for window titles. If you know it won't be fixed-pitch, no reason for -- double hyphens. You can use — or &mdash;.

Typographically there's no reason to space around double hyphens being used to represent a dash. (In English! Other languages have different rules for spacing dashes.) The only reason for the spaces in the first place was to make it plain that the - character is doing someone else's job.
1:58 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What Lucy24 said about using a word as far as titles, etc. goes, but as far as typesetting and correctness, a single hyphen is incorrect. Either an &ndash; or &mdash would the "more correct" than even -- in typesetting. (There's a printing press in the room next to me btw lol.)

The difference in the two dashes is:

An en-dash is the width of the letter n and em-dash is the with of the letter m, in the current font. And, as Lucy24 pointed out, if the current font is fixed-width (fixed-pitch), they would be the same, but otherwise the em-dash is "wider" than the en-dash is.

[edited by: TheOptimizationIdiot at 2:02 am (utc) on Apr 16, 2013]

1:58 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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You can use — or &mdash;.

@lucy24 and @TheOptimizationIdiot,

Is it okay to use an &ndash? Or a hyphen such as -

I'm trying to understand why &mdash should be used?

Also, if &mdash is used, should there be space between the word before the &mdash and the &mdash, and the word after the &mdash and the &mdash? I have examples of this below.

Email Me—Additional Widget Questions

or

Email Me — Additional Widget Questions

After writing what I did above in this post, I realized that I am using a template and for the title tag, I am not sure that I can use an &mdash or an &ndash. I don't think that I can code html for the title tag. Can I copy and paste an &mdash or &ndash from a word processing program? If not, should I use two hyphens, try to use a word instead of a hyphen, or is one hyphen okay?
2:22 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'd look at the top sites in your niche(s) and see what they do before adding two hyphens or encoded characters in title tags. That's just me.

EDIT: Not when the character itself is treated the same; does anyone have evidence that encoding the characters in titles is handled/understood better by G?
2:33 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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EDIT: Not when the character itself is treated the same; does anyone have evidence that encoding the characters in titles is handled/understood better by G?

Handled better? I can't say one is "handled better" than another in the context of titles.

I can say I have used all kinds of encoded and non-encoded characters in titles and they've all been treated about the same, including some obscure encoded ones. By about the same I mean I didn't see any difference in rankings from "normal / non-encoded" to "obscure / encoded" when I tested different title "phrase separators" a couple years ago.

What I have noticed a difference in wrt titles is the ones that stand out seem to get clicked the most and changed by G's algo the least, so I personally, I do what you say and look at what everyone else in the niche is doing, then don't do that.
2:56 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I did a quick experiment. The sites that DO use the long Dash can be seen in the title of the SERP listing just like when G adds a separator (obviously longer). Copy and paste the titles into a text editor that will show you the difference between types of characters and you'll see G using what appears to be the keyboard hyphen not the long DASH (coded or non-encoded) which is highlighted in a different color than keyboard characters.

I should have checked what G was doing a long time ago but there it is.

@TOI - I've never seen a difference encoding into any meta-tag and for simplicity don't.

EDIT: The above experiment wasn't highly scientific no, but the text was copied from both the source and the visible page to be sure it wasn't a copy/paste issue.
3:24 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Seems to me that people do a lot of "thinking" and not enough testing. Most seem to think this or that but where are the test results?
3:32 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Most seem to think this or that but where are the test results?

Come on now, you've gotta do better than that (lol) emphasis added just for you ;)

By about the same I mean I didn't see any difference in rankings from "normal / non-encoded" to "obscure / encoded" when I tested different title "phrase separators" a couple years ago.
3:44 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Kelowna - look up, just told everyone what G is using.

@TOI - we did odd characters about 6 years ago, only effect seemed to be visibility but one webmaster I mentioned the idea to was surrounding his titles with asterisks and his sites failed soon after (that was probably him rather than asterisks in title tags, he was pretty lazy).

@mixtapekid457 I think there's been enough mentioned here for you to decide that it's a matter of testing for you to see if you have a better CTR using either/or. The real key is writing your titles to be honest and descriptive with the right "look" to make them stand out from others around yours.
4:13 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I've used a colon like- word : word -for years in title tags and they have always been treated as a separator, as well as showing up in the SERPs as intended, with no impact on rankings.
4:57 am on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Is it okay to use an &ndash? Or a hyphen such as -

I'm trying to understand why &mdash should be used?

Also, if &mdash is used, should there be space between the word before the &mdash and the &mdash, and the word after the &mdash and the &mdash?

The en dash is typically used to separate pairs of numerals. Ranges, not close-knit groups like phone numbers. Maybe a couple of other uses I can't remember at the moment. It isn't generally used in plain text, except rarely to represent a sort of, er, uber-hyphen. When it isn't serving as a minus sign, a hyphen is for breaking up pieces of words, or making word pairs. As in this paragraph ;)

The em dash in English is not spaced. In some other languages it is. This is simply typographic convention, like the shape and direction of quotation marks.
12:36 pm on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@lucy24,

In the title tag Email Me - Additional Widget Questions, should I use a hyphen or an &ndash? I don't think that an &mdash should be used here. If you think that it should be, can you tell me. When using an &mdash, should there be a space between the &mdash and the letter on the left and right of it?

Also, I have a heading that is similar to the title tag on another page, and for headings, I can use html. At the moment, I have used a hyphen. Should I switch to &ndash or &mdash?

Thanks.
12:57 pm on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'd say getting this right or wrong will make about 0.00000001% difference to your rankings (up or down).
3:42 pm on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I hear what you're saying, but since I have several of these on a site, I'd like to know how they should be written.
6:22 pm on Apr 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Honestly I can't think of any situation, anywhere, where a hyphen with spaces on both sides would be the correct form to use.

And if I wanted more of this kind of thing I'd go over to the ebooks forum. There's a current thread about whether the word "Page" in a multi-page Table of Contents should be retained or deleted on the non-initial pages. This thread is well into its fourth page. Admittedly those are php/bb2 15-post pages, not WebmasterWorld 30-post pages, but still...

I'd say getting this right or wrong will make about 0.00000001% difference to your rankings

He tried to put in more zeros but the Forums software ate them.

should I use a hyphen or an &ndash? I don't think that an &mdash should be used here. If you think that it should be, can you tell me. When using an &mdash, should there be a space between the &mdash and the letter on the left and right of it?

Haven't we been here already? Scroll back a bit; we may have overlapped at a page break.
This 46 message thread spans 2 pages: 46
 

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