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Trademarks and Symbols in Title Tags

May 6, 2010 / by Andy Chesnut

I read a post yesterday that talked all about the use of trademarks and other symbols in title tags, and it threw my mind into a spin. Some of the information was insightful, but the rest was very outdated and downright dangerous. I think we need to make a few things clear on this subject.

Including the TM does NOT show Google you're the authority

I hate to use a quote of a quote here, but I appreciated the reference to TDTECHFLEX from the ihelpyou forum that was posted. He states:

“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 agree with his statement that search engines don’t put weight into TM inclusion, but I am hesitant about it being user friendly. Topic #2 will explain why.

Avoid using Trademarks and other symbols in meta tags

I have seen way too many sites that have had their SERP snippets ruined by including these symbols in the titles. Don’t believe me? Take a look.

Trademarks in Title Tags

If you looked at these and said, “WOOF!” then we are on the same page. Keep the symbols out of your titles, and include them elsewhere in the content of your page.

Double Inclusion in the Title Tags

If you are going to take the recommendation I listed above, then you don’t really have to worry about this one. In the post I read yesterday, there was reference to a thread on Google answers back in 2003 which advised a webmaster to include the product name first with the trademark, then without it in the title.

Example: “Brand/Product ™ - Brand/Product”

PLEASE don’t do this to yourself. Double inclusion of keywords in an element is never a safe idea, and assuming you are a white-hat, good-hearted, life-loving SEO, you won’t do this. We like to call this practice “keyword stuffing.”

Overuse of symbols

I agree with the poster from yesterday on this. Once you have established the trademark within your content, there is no need to carry the TM throughout the rest of the content on your page. Don’t let it potentially mess up the keyword quality on your page.

In conclusion, you may love your trademark, but when it comes down to getting crawled, indexed, and ranked properly, that cute little symbol might be getting in the way of a beautiful ranking. Don't let that happen to you. Pull your trademarks out of your titles. Having ugly looking title snippets in the SERPs will ruin your click through and dilute your keyword density. There is a time and a place for everything. Your title tag is not the place for a trademark.

Topics: SEO Blog

Andy Chesnut

Written by Andy Chesnut

Andy started in the Internet marketing industry working for IoVentures, Inc. and continued in other freelance SEO projects. He recently relocated to Austin, TX to work more closely with clients. Before working in SEO, Chesnut was an RPO recruiter working contracts with Wal-Mart, McGraw Hill and Palm.

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