Anyone who has ever tried to do a Google search for something knows how frustrating it can be when you can’t seem to find what you’re looking for. Oftentimes, the difference between a successful search and an unsuccessful one can be as simple as an apostrophe.
That’s because Google’s search algorithm is designed to ignore common words and characters like “and” and “the”, which are known as stop words. And since an apostrophe is considered a stop word, omitting it can help you to get more accurate results.
With everything happening because of a single apostrophe, it begs the question, do apostrophes affect SEO? Keep reading to find out.
Does Using Apostrophes in the Title Affect SEO?
There are a lot of different factors that go into SEO, but one of the things often debated is whether or not using apostrophes in the title of a page or post can affect its ranking. Does Google differentiate in the use of non-apostrophe and apostrophe-rich titles?
While there’s no definitive answer, it’s generally agreed upon that using apostrophes in titles does not have a significant effect on search engine optimization.
This is likely because the search engine is designed to ignore common punctuation marks like apostrophes when indexing content. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, if your title includes a possessive noun (e.g. “John’s bike”), then the apostrophe may be factored into the search algorithm.
Additionally, some experts believe that using apostrophes in plural nouns (e.g. “cat’s toys”) can help to improve search visibility. Ultimately, whether or not you use apostrophes in your website’s title is up to you.
If you’re not sure which looks better or which will have a bigger impact on your internet marketing, you can always experiment with both and see which option gives you better Google search results.
How About Apostrophes in Keywords? Do They Matter?
When it comes to Google Chrome and apostrophes in keywords, the short answer is that they usually don’t matter. Other search engines will strip out apostrophes when processing a query, so you don’t need to worry about including them in your keyword phrases.
If you’re using an apostrophe in search terms like “women’s shoes”, the algorithm appears to treat the keyword as two separate words, “women” and “shoes”. This means that your SEO keywords will be less targeted, but you’ll still be able to rank for both “women’s shoes” and “women shoes”.
However, if you’re using an apostrophe in a brand name or company name, like “O’Reilly Auto Parts”, the algorithm will include the apostrophe in the keyword. This means that your SEO keywords will be more targeted, but you may have a harder time ranking for the term.
In general, it is recommended to use apostrophes in brand names and company names, but it really depends on keyword research and individual situation. As for other punctuation, there’s no hard and fast rule on their use but including them can help to prevent your keywords from being truncated in the search results.
While this may not seem like a big deal, research data appears to prove that it can actually have a significant impact on your click-through rate.
Which Punctuation Matters in SEO?
While most people focus on using the right keywords and phrases when optimizing their website for search engines, they often overlook the importance of punctuation.
After all, if a search engine can’t understand what you’re trying to say, it’s not going to be able to rank your page very highly. So, which punctuation marks matter in SEO? And which ones can be safely ignored?
Punctuations that search engines deem considerably meaningful
While the occasional exclamation point or question mark may not seem like a big deal, the truth is that punctuation can have a big impact on your search engine ranking. In general, search engines pay attention to three types of punctuation: commas, periods, and quotation marks.
Commas are used to signal a pause or break in a sentence, which can help the search engine to better understand the content of your page.
For example, Google’s algorithms are designed to pick up on key phrases, and they use commas to delineate these phrases. This means that a sentence like “We sell shirts, pants, and shoes” will be read as three separate phrases, while a sentence like “We sell shirts pants and shoes” will be read as one long phrase. As a result, the first sentence is more likely to result in higher rankings.
Periods are often used to signal the end of a sentence, making them another important factor in determining your ranking.
Here’s an example: let’s say you have a website about cats. And on your website, you have the following sentence: “The best way to take care of your cat is to feed them twice a day.”
If you put a period after “cats”, the search engine will think that the sentence is incomplete. But if you put the period after “day”, the search engine will understand that the sentence is complete. And as a result, your website will be ranked higher.
Quotation marks are typically used to highlight key phrases or terms, making them yet another way to improve your ranking.
For example, if a website uses the phrase “bestselling author,” it will appear higher in the results than a website that uses the phrase “best-selling author.” The reason is that the quotation marks around “bestselling” tell the search engine that this is an exact phrase that should be matched exactly. As a result, the website with quotation marks will get a boost in its ranking. This may seem like a small thing, but in the world of SEO, every little bit counts.
While there’s no need to go overboard with punctuation, paying attention to these three elements can help you to improve your search engine ranking.
Punctuations that search engines tend to ignore
While most punctuation marks are important for helping readers understand a text, there are some that search engines tend to ignore. Perhaps the most notable example is the hyphen. Although hyphens are often used to connect words or create compound adjectives, they are generally ignored by search engines.
Similarly, parentheses and quotation marks are also typically ignored by search engines. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, certain types of quotation marks (such as those used in title tags) can actually help improve your search ranking.
Tips on Using Punctuation in your Title, Content, Meta Description, URL
1. Punctuation in Post Title
If you want to highlight certain words in your title, use punctuation such as italics or bolding to draw attention to them. This can be especially effective if you’re trying to target a specific keyword. Just don’t go overboard – too much punctuation will again make your title seem spammy.
2. Punctuation in Content
Use punctuation marks to break up the text. Long, blocky sentences are hard to read and tend to get lost in search results. Punctuation marks like commas, colons, and semicolons can help break up text and make your content more readable. Use lists when they make sense.
3. Punctuation in Meta Description
Use full stops to separate sentences and make them easier to read. Use commas to list items so you can create a structure for your sentences. Use brackets to highlight key information like a keyword phrase or word to attract attention and use quotation marks for exact match phrases to specifically target high-ranking keywords.
4. Punctuation in URL
Use hyphens and periods to separate words in your URL. This makes it easier for search engines to index your content and can help you rank higher in results. Don’t use underscores in your URL. While this may seem like an easy way to separate words, it actually makes it harder for search engines to read your URL and can hurt your ranking.
Final Thoughts on How an Apostrophe Affects Searches to Boost SEO
Apostrophes can help boost your SEO by:
- Making your content more keyword rich
- Helping you avoid keyword stuffing penalties
- Increasing the readability of your content
- Improving the usability of your website
However, simply using or not using punctuation does not give you a firm grasp of where your business growth is headed in terms of SEO. You need to track your progress efficiently.
If you’re serious about wanting to track the effects of punctuation use on your SERP rankings, then you need to consider ProRankTracker. We’re a highly specialized SEO agency rank tracker that’s dedicated to rank tracking and reporting, and we have the tools and experience to help you get the most out of your SEO efforts.
Our software is designed to track both organic and paid search results, and we can provide you with detailed reports that show you how your rankings are changing over time. We can also help you to identify any potential ranking factors that may be affecting your SERP position.
So if you’re looking for a comprehensive solution to tracking your SERP rankings, then give ProRankTracker a try. Sign up for a FREE trial and start tracking!