Sometimes in Chemistry S.E. I use latex formatting e.g. $CO_{2}$ for CO2 or $\ce{H20}$ for formatting H2O. I would like to know if formatting can make it harder to find the question in a search engine?

Normally if someone searches for a reaction he doesn't write something like this $ C + O_{2} -> CO_{2}$ but something like this C + O2 ->CO2. So maybe formatting the question or the title can lower the visibility of the page/question/answer.

I'm posting this question here because the competence required to answer to it are more related to metastackoverflow users.

This is a question with this type of formatting: Why does NaCl dissolve in H2O despite its strong ionic bond?

This could be an example of an answer with extensive formatting: Can we extract KI from Lugol solution?

  • +1 For competence :) – Ashley Medway Apr 9 '14 at 9:41
  • @Ash chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/9806/… I'd say the short answer is probably yes. – OGHaza Apr 9 '14 at 9:46
  • My short answer is that it will make it hard for search engines to read as $\ce{H20}$ would generate in the html separately as H 2 O, where as you might search Google for H2O. If SE are not doing so already they could include H2O as semantic data which would help search engines crawl the page. – Ashley Medway Apr 9 '14 at 9:53
  • Total single-point anecdata, but plugging "Why does NaCl ionize in H2O" into the Google returned that question as the third result. Replacing "NaCl" with "Salt" and "H2O" with "Water" didn't. "Extract KI Lugol" returned the question as the first result. Google doesn't seem to have a problem finding terms within MathJax expressions. The more pressing concern would be whether on-site search can handle it. (And my guess is that it can't, given everything else it can't do.) – Jonathan Garber Apr 29 '14 at 16:47

Yes, search engines likely won't be able to handle the MathJax stuff correctly. This is one of the reasons why sites like Chemistry and Biology prefer to avoid MathJax in titles entirely.

Some of the other reasons are the visible delay until the MathJax is rendered, and that it doesn't work at all e.g. in the hot questions list on many sites.

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