Over the past few months I’ve noticed more title tags and meta descriptions using different types of characters to stand out in the search results. PPC has led the way with uses of planes, bullet points, trade mark symbols. Problem is many adverts get disapproved by Google.

Organically it’s about testing what can and can’t indexed. So below I’ve made a list of characters that will get indexed in a title tag and display in the search engine results. Before the list a few interesting points from this experiment.

  • Using the intitle: command doesn’t work, for example try “intitle:£” in Google and it returns nothing. Yet there are plenty of title tags with the £ symbol.
  • A symbol can be hard-coded into a title tag but when you use a CMS it may try to convert it. Thus meaning to get some of the symbols into titles you’ll need to bypass your CMS or change the way it works.
  • If you have a symbol in the title tag that Google won’t index they’ll skip the character when displaying the title tag in the search result.

To conduct the test I:

  • 11 pages linked to sitewide on another site of mine
  • Each page linked to each other
  • Title tag contacted the special characters, as did the meta description.
  • Waited for all the pages to be indexed and then viewed using a site command with inurl:test as the file names were test1, test2, etc

Here are the valid symbols with screenshots of them in the search results.

´^¯¨¸_-,;:!¡?¿.·”‘”"”"+”"=”«»()[]{}§§¶©®@*/\&%°±±÷<>¬|~

¤¢$££¥ªÁáàÂâÅåÄäÃãÆæÇçÉéÈèÊêËëÍíÌìÎîÏïÑñºÓóÒòÔôÖöÕ

←↑→↓↔⇐⇑⇒()[]{}〕〔›‹〉〈«»⎛⎞⎡⎤⎧⎫⎬⎨⎥⎢⎟⎜⎝⎠⎣⎦⎪⎪⎩⎭ – Note – WordPress won’t display the characters, see screenshot below.

$¢£¥฿₥₤₣₢₡₦₧₨₩₪₯₮₭€₫¤₠₰₱•%‰‱†‡º°˚

©®™

µΩ℃№ℑℜ

①②③④⑤⑥⑦⑧⑨⑩❶❷❸➀➁➂➊➋➌⁰¹²₀₁₂½⅓⅔

ΑΒΓΔΕΖΗΘΙΚΛΜΝΞΠΣΡΤΥζεδγβαΨΧΦθ

ηικλμξπϑωφϕϖ

Theres were plenty that didn’t work including symbols of scissors, aeroplanes, hearts, clubs, spades etc. I’ve noticed some sites already use the trademark and copyright symbols, for example. GHD hair straighteners and Sony. What can you do with symbols above? Here’s a few mock ups that I’ve firebugged

888.com using the numbers 8 to stand out on the term online casino.

My own site using characters before and after the text.

Use the half price for cheap flights offers.

The Church of england using little crosses.

Using a number for Radio 1, pretty cool

Joking aside, over the past few months Google have made several changes to the 1st page has made it difficult for a standard organic ranking.  Product, image, reviews, local, maps listings etch all stand out more than an organic listing. If you have an organic listing in a very competitive market you need to work your title tag and description hard to increase the CTR.

If you’ve liked this post and you have a site with a decent level of traffic why not try out using different characters, use Google Webmaster Tools to see changes in CTR, positive or negative.

If you find any other characters that work, please email johnpcampbell1985 (@) googlemail (.) com or leave a comment below or send me a message on twitter.

9 thoughts on “A Guide To Special Character Use In Title Tags

  1. I made some shapes last weekend after we drew 2-2 with Blackpool, I’m sure Google wouldn’t recognize the shapes I busted last weekend!

  2. Hi John,
    Great post. Didn’t people try something like this years ago? You could use ASCI characters to create scrolls and ornaments to enhance the listing. The general consensus was that it wasn’t a good idea because poeple will perceive the site a spammy. The symbols will also take up valuable space in your title tag. But for the right site I guess it could be okay.

  3. i have run a number of ASCII tests and its fun too see these indexed and displayed. But stupid WP wont display all formats – need to probably test what it will and what it wont…

  4. yeah, had to do them in HTML pages outside of wordpress to get it working.

    The real test it doing on a competitive key phrases with a good amount of searches per day.

  5. Where can I get this characters? I need an 0 :) )
    ①②③④⑤⑥⑦⑧⑨⑩❶❷❸➀➁➂➊➋➌

  6. @Christian
    Try visiting this site. It has a pre-made special characters where you can just copy and paste…
    nwmtwd.com/misc_character_sets.html

  7. Using special characters in the title tag never really occurred to me. I wonder what the seo ramifications are- and the CTR benefit. I am gonna give some of these a try, maybe like Rated ① in customer service or something. I bet the CTR goes up.

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