Why Google Is Changing Your SEO Page Titles
Have you noticed some of your title tags are different to the ones you wrote?
Well, unless your SEO page titles have matched up to Google’s expectations, you’ll probably find some of them will have been changed to meet the search engine’s new requirements.
In fact, a recent research report showed that Google has rewritten over 60% of titles, so it’s highly likely some of your tags will have been affected. The study from Zyppy.com analysed close to 90 000 title tags across 2370 sites around the world and found that Google rewrote 61.6% of the titles.
Where can I see my title tag?
If you open up your website and look at the top of your browser bar, you can see your title tag here in the tab. In many content management systems this is often called an SEO Title. This is where you can add the keywords you would like to rank for.
On the Google Search Results, you can see your title tag here. You would need to search for your business name or different keywords you rank for to see what comes up for your website.
Why are the page titles being rewritten?
In 2021, Google announced that they were going to make changes to the titles that it shows in its search results in order to improve the descriptions of the page. Its system had determined that many pages didn’t even have titles and some were badly constructed or misleading.
Google had always made adjustments to titles, but these had generally been minor. Following the update, there was a flurry of activity by the search engine giant but it now claims that original title tags are now being used around 87% of the time, up from 80% a short while ago.
Google’s stated intention is to make information universally accessible and useful – and it’s constantly investigating ways of improving the user’s search experience. While you might have spent hours crafting what you think are perfect title tags, if they don’t fit into what Google thinks is best, you’ll find adjustments have been made.
But if the outcome is an improved title tag which gives searchers the best information about a page, it’s a win for them and it’s a win for website owners. In a perfect world, Google’s rewrite should actually increase your chances of a click-through.
The reasons behind the changes
Several scenarios prompted the rewrites, including:
- When a title is too long or too short
- When there is insufficient or inaccurate information
- When the title is obsolete
- When the same title is used for multiple pages
- When the same keyword is used more than once
- Overuse of brand names
- When title separators are used, such as dashes or pipes
- When [brackets] or (parentheses) are used
Google also encouraged people to focus on creating great HTML title elements as those were what they used the most. Zippy’s research confirmed this was the case and found that by matching the H1 to the title, the degree of rewriting was often dramatically reduced.
What do SEO experts say about Google’s changes?
Some SEO experts say that the titles had been improved while others have been less impressed, calling for an ‘opt-out’ option. While I haven’t seen dramatic changes made to my clients’ tags, I do think it is important that industry leaders in the field of SEO continue to provide Google with feedback on the situation so that improvements can be made where necessary.
A few final tips for writing Google-friendly title tags
It’s not possible to stop Google from rewriting your tags, but there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of it happening.
Any SEO specialist worth their salt knows that page titles have a considerable impact on click-through rates. Giving the user the right information to help them make a decision about whether a page is worth visiting is crucial, plus it’s important to do the right thing by Google.
My tips for writing for writing Google-friendly title tags are:
- Aim for a tag length between 50 and 60 characters
- Use parentheses rather than brackets to emphasise text
- Match your H1 tag to your title
- Only use your keyword phrase once
If you’re new to SEO, why not take a look at my FREE SEO Starter Kit, and if you’re keen to discover more tips and techniques for successful SEO? Check out The SEO School and find out how easy it is to learn SEO and ensure that your business gets found online. Book your spot on this self-managed modular course now or see the website for more details.
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