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An issue came up at a company that I started working for recently on the dimensions for product content being displayed using " instead of in. For the sake of example, let's say the product dimensions were 24" x 38" (how I was displaying it). The owner of the company told my boss to have me change it to 24in x 38in due to some search engine implications, but he's on vacation right now and I can't ask him about it until next week.

I decided to do some research on the topic.

  1. First off, I went to some major sites like Amazon, Walmart and Walgreen's to see how they displayed it and every site that I checked all used a double quote to represent inches. I checked the source code to see if it was represented as an as a " or an HTML entity and it was always a ".
  2. Then I hit Google and searched using different variations of the title of this post as my search term and couldn't find anything relevent at all.
  3. My next thought was to try and search for something using dimensions specified using both " and in to see what kind of results I would get. While none of the results actually had any " in them, the searches were fairly successful. However, the results were also quite different when I used in instead. (Now, although I was already aware that part of the reason searching with " was problematic because of the use of double quotes to specify an exact phrase, it became painfully obvious when none of the results ever included a ".)

Personally, I think using a double quote to represent inches looks more professional and streamlined, where using in or in. or, even worse, inches looks kinda tacky to me. But at the end of the day, what's really important is the impact on search engine results and I don't have any real data to back up my assertion.

migrated from stackoverflow.com Jun 27 '14 at 13:53

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  • No, this is not going to confuse search engines. They know about common symbols and react accordingly. – John Conde Jun 26 '14 at 20:34
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The search engine implications are for people that are trying to search for the dimensions. If somebody searches for 38" by 24", Google doesn't understand that the " means inches. Google returns bible verses for that query.

Double quotes are not searchable as inches in Google because Google uses double quotes syntax for phrases. Searching for "love timeless" (with quotes) is very different than searching for love timeless (without quotes). The latter returns results for "timeless love" whereas the first does not.

Searchers that are searching for dimensions are therefore forced to use "in" or "inches". Probably "inches" because "in" is such a common word that they would not get good results.

If you want your product to show up when anybody does a meaninful search for dimensions, then you will have to use "inches".

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While Stephen's answer is correct, I'd just like to add that using a double quote for inches is also wrong because it's not the correct character.

Unicode has the character 'DOUBLE PRIME' (U+2033) which is specifically for representing inches or seconds. There is also 'PRIME' (U+2032) for feet/minutes.

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I would definitely use [inches] - my experience would agree with your analysis that this is better than using ["] or similar.

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