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I'm working on a site that has main/parent category names which include a literal ampersand & character, such as "Things & Stuff".

This has been working fine for many years, even though it should probably have originally been created using the HTML Entity & instead, such as "Things & Stuff" (they both render the same on-page as "Things & Stuff").

Now, the site wants to integrate with a 3rd party company to do some product related stuff. Their system chokes up on the literal ampersand & characters, and they have asked the site to convert them into the proper HTML Entity &.

What ramifications are there for this change? Will Google et al view the before and after as the same, or is there a negative SEO impact since main category page titles will be changing.

  • It doesn't make any difference at all – John Conde Jan 26 '17 at 17:57
  • @JohnConde Great! Please write that as an answer so I can mark it as correct. – SnakeDoc Jan 26 '17 at 17:58
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When Googlebot visits your site it sees both the source and the end results, markup plays little to no role in rankings because why should it; your visitors don't care about your markup and neither do search engines.

It's important to note that older html documents you needed to use such HTML codes because the UNICODE didn't support the symbol. Now with HTML5 and onwards we don't need silly little codes.

  • & is exactly the same as &
  • & is exactly the same as &
  • & shares the same meaning with and
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    "Now with HTML5 and onwards we don't need silly little codes." - HTML5 doesn't completely do away with those "silly little codes"; it depends on context. If the ampersand is ambiguous then it would still need to be HTML entity encoded. And you might still need those "silly little codes" in other contexts like quotes in quoted attribute values, etc. – MrWhite Jan 26 '17 at 19:26
  • As little as seven years ago, Yahoo was not decoding HTML entities used is page titles and meta descriptions. Google has handled them properly for a long time, but other search engines haven't done such a good job. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 26 '17 at 19:39

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