SEO Tip #77: How Does Google Handle Special Characters?

Matt Cutts: You know, I don’t know. And the fact that I don’t know says that you might want to use caution when considering this type of thing. The second part of your questions asks if it is okay to be typographically correct or does this cause problems; I don’t want to tell tales but there is at least one search engine I know of that did not handle special characters correctly for about four or five years.

So even simple stuff didn’t get indexed correctly. If you’re talking about the really exotic stuff, the really advanced stuff like ligatures and hyphenation my guess is that, especially a new start up tiny search engine is probably not going to have that as their highest priority.

So you might want to think about if there is a way you can get that text without having to have super, crazy advanced, exotic stuff. That might make it a little bit easier for search engines to index your content and for it to show up higher in the search engines.

Now in general a lot of the time we can learn synonyms. We can learn that this and this with the ligature is really the same word and not to worry about it but just because Google handles it well doesn’t mean that every search engine will handle it well. I wouldn’t claim that I know for a fact that we handle every single one of these cases correctly.

You’re the owner of your website. You’re always welcome to do whatever you want to do but as far as search engine rankings I would be aware that search engines might not always handle those cases correctly. You might want to do a few experiments to check it out for yourself.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.