Take a moment and pretend you’re a search engine bot –
It’s early in the morning. You are enjoying a fresh cup of coffee while reading the latest sitemap. (Yes, drinking coffee. Google Caffeine – a greater quantity of search results in less time; this is pretend, it is clearly the obvious answer.) Once the caffeine kicks in you find yourself cursing though all the readable content, jumping from page to page, making notes on everything you see. You pass over a registered trademark symbol in the title tag and other key areas of readable content – Do you make a special note to assign extra weight for search rankings?
I was recently wondering about what effects registered trademarks (or other similar symbols) located in the title tag and other places of your website might have on search rankings. Registered trademarks are the symbol of ownership for a product or brand name. Might they have some sort of magical effect on SEO and search results, especially in key areas of web pages such as title tags?
Not sure of the answer, I went ahead and did some digging. Of the few posts and discussion forums I did manage to unearth, while they do seem relevant, I must warn I would not exactly label them fresh. Dates go as far back as 2003. Nevertheless, I would like to get to the bottom of trademarks and other symbols and SEO, so here is what I found:
- How do you get a registered trade mark or other symbols into the title tag?
Just like when inserting a registered trade mark symbol into the body of a website, html code is inserted into the title tag to display the special characters not on your keyboard. (Ex. ®)
- Does having a registered trademark or other symbols in your title tag help rankings?
TDTECHFLEX, a anonymous contributor to the ihelpyou forum, put it best when posting on this thread:
“I doubt that Google or Yahoo would see the tm and think “oh, this must be THE authority” since anyone could use such for an off-white tactic. I do think that human users might pay more attention to a title with it.”
I would have to agree with this comment; one probably should not expect to be rewarded by search engines for simply inserting a registered trademark symbol into the title tag. Rather, end users are likely going pay more attention to a title tag with it – translating into a higher click-through rate for the total number of impressions your site generates.
- How do Google and other search engines interpret the html code found in title tags?
One of the few excerpts I found addressing this question was found within this old Google Answers post (take this with a grain of salt, it dates back to 2003):
“Additionally, using the Registered Trademark symbol may actually be diluting the keyword relevancy. The symbol is counted as a separate word in the title.
Compare www.microsoft.com. Microsoft is well-known for aggressive use of their Registered Trademark, yet it does not appear in the title of their web pages.”
So not only are registered trademark symbols not believed to directly increase rankings, they may in fact do the opposite, diluting keyword relevancy. Intuitively it makes sense, how many people do you know use HTML code for ANY particular symbol in a search query?
Say you are trying to optimize for a particular keyword phrase in the title tag that contains a brand or product name with a registered trademark you cannot ignore – How do you balance the two?
Key points to be mindful of when using registered trademarks:
Larre -GA of Google Answers Recommends:
Double Keyword Density and Enhance “Findability” – Format your title tag to use both the registered trademark brand or product name along with the SEO keyword phrase of focus. (Keep in mind Google will display up to 66 characters of a title tag) For example: Brand/Product Name ® – Keyword phrase (Brand/Product name w/o symbol)
- Spacing is Key – Assuming a symbol is viewed as a separate word in a keyword phrase when using the symbol, be sure to insert a space between the brand or product name and the actual symbol.
Last but not least, ListPipe Blog recommends:
- Avoid Overuse – Once legal ownership is established, it is unnecessary to include a trademark symbol with every instance of a term. Not only is overuse of a symbol cumbersome to readers, but it limits the relevancy between your posted content and the actual terms people are using to search for your site.
Anyone else know of any more recent sources, maybe with a little more authority speaking on the topic?