A title tag can make or break a submission due to the high proportion of weight given to them by search engine algorithms. While many people understand this basic principle of SEO, what they fail to realize that they are often killing themselves by using a far too commonly seen piece of punctuation – the comma. Let’s take a look at a sample title and see how the comma impacts the SEO, but let’s also look at why.
In regular writing, a comma is an effective tool. In writing a title tag however it is often the kiss of death. Search engines view commas as a separation of keywords. The reason you do not want to use the comma in a title tag is because of just that – it takes away potential keyword phrases. Let’s see this in action with our sample title that reflects our desire to use the keywords of : Search engine optimization, Google, Google article rankings, article rankings, and search engine article rankings.
Search engine optimization and Google, article rankings
On the surface, the title may look fine as we see certain keyword phrases that look good:
Three viable keyword phrases is hardly what you are going for. The title tag has much more potential, it is just that comma that gets in the way. What can be done to correct this is to lose the comma and add in a hyphen in it’s place to look like this:
Search engine optimization and Google – article rankings. Because search engines do not register hyphens in title tags they do not view this title as containing two separate keyword phrases. What the search engine sees is this:
More valid permutations will occur, but in very brief order it can be clearly seen that by simply using a hyphen in a title tag rather than a comma the viable keyword phrases have been doubled. Also keep in mind that you want to use every keyword you set out to use in your title tag, and just as importantly make the title tag user friendly – which means make a title that makes sense to the reader.
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