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On RPG.SE we have a significant SEO problem stemming from our use of (semi-) standard abbreviations for RPG names in tags. This is exacerbated by tags not taking special characters and having a 25 character limit.

In the normal SEs, this isn't so much of a problem because [perl], [python], even [windows-server-2008] are short and you can just use them in the tag.

However, common game names in the RPG world are "Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition", "Dungeons & Dragons Essentials", "Mutants & Masterminds Second Edition", and similar. Normally, we'd abbreviate those things like "D&D 4e" but you can't, you have to do things like [dnd-4e] and the resulting tags are, we think, resulting in poor SEO.

You can see one person's analysis of the search results for our SE from a variety of combinations here: Proposed tag synonyms for [dnd4.0] We're only at 42% search engine referrals.

So what do we use? To drill into the D&D 4e example (which is by no means the only place we have this problem, but it is illustrative) [dnd4.0] was bad because there was no implicit space between dnd and 4.0.
[dnd-4.0] is somewhat better. But the dnd isn't quite "D&D". And what if they are searching on "Dungeons & Dragons?" Do we tag everything multiple times for SEO reasons? [dungeons-and-dragons-4e] might be better, but these forms start going over the 25 character tag limit. [dungeons-and-dragons-essentials] isn't possible. And again, what about searches on "D&D" now? We can NOT have it be the community's job to be retagging every single post with multiple tags to make it more SEO friendly.

Things that could help this a little.

  1. Allow special characters (& especially) in tags. [d&d-4e] would help.
  2. Let the tag field be a bit bigger, so things like [dungeons-and-dragons-essentials] fit. 40 characters maybe.
  3. Give us some guidance on what helps/doesn't help/works/doesn't work. We tried to get that in How do tags influence Stack Exchange's SEO? to no avail. We have been unable to get any guidance when we ask if we should be tagging a question, for example, [dnd-4e] and also [dungeons-and-dragons] in an attempt to get SEO? Will searches for D&D just pass us by?

The real solution. More advanced functionality where synonyms, perhaps drawn from the tag wiki, are inserted for SEO purposes. Let's say we tag with "[dnd4]" for brevity. If there were a way to configure "hey, that should map to 'D&D 4e' and 'Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition' in the tag wikis or synonym screens, and then SE should insert those expanded values into the page (optionally, just for search engines).

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The "real solution" as described in the question would certainly solve the issues in meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/1411/… –  Simon Withers Jan 8 '13 at 4:29
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For SEO, the tags really shouldn't matter much if the titles are descriptive... But I'm guessing no one relishes the thought of changing titles to "Optimizing a Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition Monk" / "Do cover providing powers provide cover from adjacent melee attacks in Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition?" / etc. –  Shog9 Jan 8 '13 at 4:59
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Correct, the purpose of tags is so people don't have to do that; they can ask more terse questions tagged so that the domain is clearly defined. –  mxyzplk Jan 8 '13 at 5:08
    
Do keep in mind that modern search engines perform acronym expansion automatically under certain circumstances. Google currently recognizes "4e" as "4th Edition" in the context of D&D... but oddly doesn't expand D&D to "Dungeons & Dragons," while it autocorrects "DnD" to "D&D". –  Charles Jan 11 '13 at 18:38
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