SEO- How to use Punctuation and Symbols in your Title and URL

Punctuation and Search Engine Ranking

It is very common for online writers and even webmasters to become confused when it comes to knowing what is considered acceptable punctuation for the title of your online content and your URL.

If you are referring to the URL, there are only two acceptable punctuations that can be used, the underscore (_), and the hyphen (-), both of which are used to separate words. I would suggest that when you have a choice, use the hyphen (-).

Ignored By Search Engines

Let’s now move on towards making sure that the Title, as in your “Title Tag” are all SEO friendly. When considering a title for your online content, always keep in mind that every word that you use is important and will help determine your rank on Search Engines. Do not stress too much over the Capitalization of certain words, as opposed to other words. Search is always case INSENSITIVE. Searching for; { SEO } vs { seo }, will provide the same results. Generally speaking, most punctuation is ignored by Google and other Search Engines. Ignored punctuation includes all of the following punctuations and symbols; @#$%^&*()=+[]\!. What this means is, if you want to include it, be my guest. Google isn’t going to consider it when ranking your site, it will not work for or against you on search engines.


Punctuation to think about before using.

Not Ignored Punctuation by Search Engines

Now for the important ones, the punctuations and symbols which are not ignored by Search Engines. The dollar sign ($) is used to indicate prices and is not ignored by search engines. Try searching for Barbie 20 vs Barbie $20, you will get two different results on the search engines. Hyphens are also not ignored, but you must be careful how you display a hyphen to tell the search engines what you meant to say when using it. A hyphen is sometimes used to signal that the words that around it are strongly connected, unless there is no space after and a space before it, which it then indicates it is the negative symbol. The underscore symbol (_) is not ignored when it connects two words.

Other symbols such as (C++ or C#), are also not ignored, because these are both common programmer languages which the search engines will pick up on and provide search results accordingly. A pipe “|”, is also not ignored, but is acceptable to use in title tags, as long as it is not overdone. You do not want your title tag to appear like, “Poems|Hubpages|Lyrics|Best of”… but it is acceptable use if your title tag appears something like “Poems | Best of Hubpages”, which is a reference for your readers who refer back to the title tag when switching from one open webpage to another. Do not use the pipe (|), to separate your top key search terms in order to better rank on search engines. This is a big Google No, No and you will get a virtual slap from Google if you choose to go this route.


The most commonly used punctuation and their effect on your SEO

Now for the important symbols that everyone asks about, - " , " " : " " - ". Using - " , " " : " " - ". in your title is fine, as well as using the colon (:) in your title is fine. The most important aspect of online writing and SEO friendly content is; write, name, and title your online content optimized for the users (your readers) first, and the search engines second. If you are writing quality content, more often than not, you will rank on the search engines.

I hope that this brief explanation of punctuation in your titles and URL’s, helps you better understand the world of Search Engine Optimization. If not, feel free to ask a question, and I will do my very best to answer your questions to the best of my abilities.

Let's See What the Voice of Google has to say...

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Comments 28 comments

alipuckett profile image

alipuckett 4 years ago

Awesome explanation. Thank you!

viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland

Thanks for that very interesting article. I learnt a lot

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

alipuckett, thanks for the comment. I hope that I was able to help you out.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

This is very helpful information about punctuation in titles. Thank you for also explaining the reasons why and how the engines view certain punctuations.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

viking305- I am glad that I could teach you something of value. Thanks for the comment.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

MarleneB- Thanks for the feedback, and NO PROBLEM. I always learn better when I know the reasoning behind the methods, so I tend to share my knowledge in the same manner.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

AlexandraChapman- thank you for reading and for commenting, I am glad that you found the hub informational.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

HC, this is interesting. Something I had very little idea about. I just wonder how a comma is treated?

Thanks for sharing this useful info.

wbapartner 4 years ago

I never knew so much about punctuations wrt SEO. Priceless information. Thanks.

mts1098 profile image

mts1098 4 years ago from InsideTheManCave

Helpful once again...In a few hubs I have I used the ":" but kept wondering if it even helped...cheers again...thanks...Hope Texas is not as hot as Pennsylvania...

mts1098 profile image

mts1098 4 years ago from InsideTheManCave

You know I read several of your hubs on SEO, including this one, and I still spend most of my time on titles (aside from content). I have used the keyword tools and followed suggested steps but I always change the title...oh well...cheers

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

thanks rajan jolly for your comment. Using a comma in your title will not affect your ranking. Just use it wisely :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

wpapartner- thanks for your comment. I am happy that I could give some useful insight into the matter.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

As always mts1098- thanks for the comment. If you are having problems with SEO, stop focusing on your SEO and write the hub, and make sure that you section it off into separate capsules. Once published, go back and rework your H2 titles to be more SEO friendly and recheck some of the key word phrases you are aiming for making sure that they are placed high up within the content. This alone should help you out greatly.

Texas is blistering in the heat wave...and I am ready to return home to NJ :) Hope the heat there is at least bearable and not humid and sticky.

Christian-Hunter profile image

Christian-Hunter 4 years ago from Austin

Very useful information as usual Holly.

Thank you,

Christian Hunter

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Thank you sir! Glad you found time to stop by and read- thanks so much for the comment :)

Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

This is very helpful thank you!

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Thank you Angela for commenting on this hub- I am glad you found some helpful insight that can give you better understanding into the world of SEO, and one of those little things that matters when optimizing your content.

iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

This will help me I hope. I listen to all of you, but am overwhelmed. I think you made a lot of sense. Titles are my biggest downfall. Good job writing this explanation!

dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

This is a great explanation of punctuation and how it applies to SEO in online titles. I was just wondering how the ( ' ) is considered. I might just go do a search for it and try to find out.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

My goodness, I'm impressed with your knowledge of this stuff! I would never have known. So thanks so much for telling everyone about punctuation.

I voted this UP.

Ausemade profile image

Ausemade 4 years ago from Australia

I have been writing and researching web pages for my website for some years now, and this is the first time that I have come across information about punctuation and symbols in Titles and URLs, although I have been using the hyphens in URLs since the very beginning. This hub captures the information beautifully. I am currently writing a piece on searching online... will be interested in seeing more SEO stuff from you... voted up...

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Thanks Audra- I am glad that I could be of some help. SEO is a process, doing what you can will help. The mistake many make is trying to take it all on when they are new to optimizing and then making mistakes that end up hurting them. You are a great writer, do not worry- more views shall come!

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author


The (') is not ignored by Google, so make sure if you use an apostrophe, you use it correctly- Google is fairly good at deciding what you meant to say, but in this case they do take the apostrophe into consideration. If you want to see what I mean, Google WOMENS and WOMEN"S ... the results will be different. Thanks for stopping by and the comment. I am sorry that I left out this one :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Thanks Mary615, I live SEO, or at least I have for the past year or so. There is so much to absorb and I know that so many people are confused by the topic, so I am just doing my small part to remove a little bit of the confusion. Thanks for the vote up :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 4 years ago from Lone Star State Author


Thanks for the comment. I am glad that I could help out and teach you a little something new. I have a handful of SEO Hubs, including ones regarding KEY WORD RESEARCH- BACK-LINKS and so on... I am trying to publish one a week, to share my knowledge- but not drowned everyone with too much info at once.

pringoooals profile image

pringoooals 4 years ago from Edinburgh

I read your hub with a real interest. A lot of information was new to me. Voted up!

Jacobb9205 profile image

Jacobb9205 21 months ago from Gloucestershire

Thank you for this, it helped

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