***Make sure you read an update to the post towards the end.
For years, bloggers all over the world have been using the default colon “:” to separate their blog title from their post titles, and Google has never forgiven them for it.
You see, Google ignores characters like the colon when determining SEO keywords from the header and title area of your site HTML.
So when you put “My Great Blog: My Great Post”, Google reads it as one giant string and removes the colon from the sentence. Do you think anyone is going to search for “My Great Blog My Great Post”? Obviously not.
The solution to the colon is simple and easy to implement.
In fact, you need to implement it as soon as possible on your blog if you haven’t replaced your colon already.
Time to perform a colonoscopy on your blog! Surgically remove that colon and replace it with …
Yes, our friend the vertical bar (aka pipe symbol) “|” is the answer to all of our colon problems.
When Google reads a pipe in your title, description or anywhere else on your site, it stops and starts a new keyword. So if your title is “My Great Blog” and your post title is “My Great Post,” when a user clicks on the post the full title text will read as “My Great Blog | My Great Post.”
When Google reads this, it will reward you with two separate keywords, thus giving you both “My Great Blog” and “My Great Post” for Google search rankings.
Using the pipe is especially helpful when you have a blog name that won’t work well for the SEO search terms you are trying to rank highly for.
Let’s say you have a site called “Hammers” and you want to score for “Screw Drivers” in a blog post about screw drivers.
If you use the pipe system, your post title will be “Hammers | Screwdrivers” and Google will not try to rank you for “Hammers Screwdrivers”, but rather for both “Hammers” and “Screwdrivers.”
See the simple yet powerful difference the pipe can make for your blog?
UPDATE: December 2014
It’s been believed for a long time that vertical bar is good for SEO.
Why? No one really knows.
I’ve searched high and low for any credible info to back this belief up and the closest I could come up with was this post at SearchEngineLand.com:
In that post, the author suggests to:
Search for long winding road, long – winding road, long — winding road, and long | winding road. Notice how Google ignores the dashes but not the vertical bar? That bar separates long and winding, not just visually, but in the Google algorithm. If your website uses the vertical bar, experiment by replacing it with a dash and see what happens.
Well, I search for “Traffic Generation Café”, adding different separators like “,” “-” and “|”, to give that theory a quick test.
Here’s what I saw:
Do you see much of a difference? Barely.
I did find a word from Google’s Matt Cutts on the issue in this video. The question was about using comma as a separator in a title tag, but Matt did mention using a vertical bar as well.
Make your titles user-friendly. Search engine benefits tend to follow.