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If I want to put various unicode icons in my <title> for the sake of looks, could that hurt my SEO?

Are there particular classes of unicode (code ranges) that offend search engines?

I've noticed that many music and video playing sites including YouTube have started using the PLAY icon in their titles.

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2 Answers

Unicode chars are just characters, exactly like any other character in any other encoding. It's not gonna hurt your ranking in any way.

Likewise, it's probably not gonna help you in any way. For instance, if you use the unicode character SNOWMAN (U+2603), don't expect it to help you ranking for snow-related keywords.

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We don’t really know what current and future search engines may do with non-alphanumeric characters, but it seems (and it is reasonable to expect) that they mostly ignore them. Google has some special features though (e.g., try searching with “C++”). Search engines might some day recognize, say, SNOWMAN and let people search for pages containing the symbol. –  Jukka K. Korpela Dec 25 '13 at 14:57
    
Indeed, like it happened for microformats, search engines may come with more search features in the future. But at the time being, Unicode chars are... just chars. –  Simone Carletti Dec 25 '13 at 15:58
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If I want to put various Unicode icons in my for the sake of looks, could that hurt my SEO?

I did't find any source to say 'Yes' so my answer is 'No'. It won't hurt your website if you put Unicode icon in your <title> tag.

I've noticed that many music and video playing sites including YouTube have started using the PLAY icon in their titles.

You said YouTube have started using 'play' icon in their titles so there is no possibility to affect your website because if it will hurt means Google will never use those icons in their YouTube <title> tag.

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Your logic in your last statement is flawed. Google gives special preference to youtube and doesn't rank it like other sites, so they can do what they want. –  DisgruntledGoat Dec 25 '13 at 11:45
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@DisgruntledGoat How you are saying Google gives special preference to YouTube? Is there any proof for this statement? –  Sathiya Kumar Dec 25 '13 at 11:52
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