The Meta Title Showdown: Pipes vs. Dashes Test Results

For several years now, the dispute of pipelines (|) vs. dashes (-)  has actually prevailed in the SEO market. Some individuals choose dashes as they keep your eyes – streaming – throughout – the – text, whereas pipelines can | stop | you | mid-sentence. Although, others argue that the narrow width of the pipeline supplies a couple of additional pixels of area to squeeze another keyword into the title prior to it ends up being truncated by Google.

However, with Google now re-writing approximately 61% of title tags the dispute has actually re-surfaced and end up being a hot subject of conversation once again. Supposedly, having dashes rather of pipelines will cause far less re-writes, which provides web designers more control over the method which their website is shown in the SERP.

Who’s to state that re-writes are a bad thing though? Surely, if a re-write results in an increased click-through rate this is something every site owner should invite?

Anyway, with a lot speculation on this subject, the just real method to find if an SEO strategy works or not is to really evaluate the theory in action. It might seem like an insignificant information, however here at Koozai, we like to understand the realities.

Therefore, we developed a 3-month test to compare the natural traffic, click-through rate and overall re-writes throughout a test and control group of URLs for our own website.

The Hypothesis

By altering the pipelines to dashes, there would be a decline in the variety of titles that would be re-written by Google in the SERP.


Whilst every effort has actually been made to keep as lots of variables as possible repaired, there are routine modifications to the ranking algorithm which can eventually alter outcomes.

The dataset will end up being more statistically considerable as more URLs are checked. Our dataset was comprised of 10 pages in the control group and 10 pages in the test group (20 overall) so more URLs will require to be checked to verify our findings.



First, on March 25th we determined the leading 20 natural article in Google Search Console (28-day duration), that had actually pipelines defined in their HTML through the meta title tag. These pages were then organized in order of their natural traffic levels and every other URL was separated into the test group, whilst the staying URLs were utilized as a control group.

The 20 pages were taped in a Google Sheet here to re-visit in 3 months’ time:



Once the 20 pages had been recorded in the spreadsheet, we had the ability to occupy the staying columns with our measurements, these consisted of:

  • Organic clicks
  • Organic impressions
  • Average click-through rate
  • Average Position
  • Meta title defined in the HTML
  • Meta title showing in the SERP
  • Has the title been re-written?
  • If it’s been re-written, what altered?

The Testing Process

Once these information points had actually been taped, we then went through and upgraded all of the meta titles for the test group by altering the pipelines to dashes, this was the only modification made.


After the 3 months had actually expired, we re-visited the Google sheet and re-recorded our datapoints, looking particularly for any considerable modifications to the natural impressions, natural clicks, CTR and meta title re-writes.


  • The test group (switching pipelines to dashes) had 30% of their titles altered in the SERP. The control group (keeping pipelines) had 80% re-written in the SERP
  • The typical CTR throughout pages revealing a dash in the SERP was 0.81% vs. 0.91% for pages with pipelines in the SERP
  • When Google re-wrote meta titles, the CTR prior to the modification was 0.66% vs. 0.54% after the modification
  • Organic clicks decreased by 13.7% for the test group and increased by 13.5% for the control group
  • Changing pipelines to dashes caused far less re-writes (3/10 vs. 8/10).


Changing pipelines to dashes caused far less re-writes (3/10 vs. 8/10). This shows Google’s choice to reveal pipelines over dashes.

However, pages with a dash in the SERP had a lower CTR than pages with a pipeline, which shows the user’s choice to click titles with pipelines. Also, there was an unfavorable impact on the natural traffic for the test group, so taking the additional time to re-write pages with dashes really caused less natural clicks.

Therefore, it is encouraged that pipelines are utilized in meta titles rather of dashes. This may suggest that Google re-writes more titles however the total result of leaving the pages with pipelines is a boost in CTR and natural traffic.

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