16 Jan 2013

Why Does Google Modify My Title Tags? (Weekly Q&A)

There’s an interesting thread over at SEOchat forum discussing why Google doesn’t seem to be able to index the site title tags.


Google’s Announcement and Tools

Google announced they were now trying to improve our titles a year ago, yet it’s still being discussed.

Google itself recommends looking into “HTML Suggestions” feature in Webmaster Tools (inside the Diagnostics section) to find the solution of the problem.

Google's Announcement and Tools

Google's Announcement and Tools


More Reports and Concerns from Users

shares a screenshot of how his title was rewritten (and NOT made better)

“I’ve asked Google webmaster evangelist +Pierre Far  about this in the past, when Google decides to replace a title with something else, and his response was that they do this when they think that the new title is one that would lead to more conversions.  In this particular instance, it looks like they’ve gotten it seriously wrong.”

The “1 comment on How Google…” is correctly parsed from my home page, but it’s rather poor in terms of what it communicates about the page being linked to, and the actual title of that post appears on the home page of my site as well, from the same segmented area of the page, and as a link to the page.  Seems more like a poor decision on the search engine’s part rather than a lack of adequate signals to use.

I’ve seen blog posts from my site in Google’s index in a matter of minutes from posting them that do use the correct page title.  Now, I’m often seeing scrapers appear instead with those page titles instead of my own page, especially when viewing through Google in a “last 24 hours” search mode.  I’m more than a little disgusted by that. :(

Others discuss changes and find the following patterns:

1. At Webmaster World

<keywords 1> – <keywords 2> | <Company Name>
In search results it appears as:
<keywords 1> – <Company Name>

2. At SEO.com

“Forex Trading Strategies | Forex System | Forex Trading Course”
In search results it appears as:
“Forex trading strategy.”

3. Bill Hartzer

“Search Engine Optimization with SEOette.com: Track Your Google Rankings | Bill Hartzer ”
In search results it appears as:
“Track Your Google Rankings.”


Sum up?

  • Google seems to take a special effort to make titles more concise and better optimized
  • Google seems to be dropping brand names from titles
  • Google seems to hate one- or two-word titles

Further Reading:
AJ elaborates on When and Why Google Changes Your Title