How these changes may affect you:
Last month when SEO professionals noticed that Google was rewriting the page titles in search engine results page (SERP), there was a bit of a hullabaloo. When Google makes a change to how they index your website, it may affect your rankings and change your clickthrough rates in the search engine results pages.
Traditionally Google has used the HTML page titles to display an indexed page in the search results. Last month they began overwriting some HTML titles with completely different text. While this might feel extreme, Google says these updates are focused on the user experience. They’re replacing poor titles with what is, in their view, more relevant text.
When poor HTML page titles prompt Google to select content from the page to fill that spot, you lose control over the way your page appears in Google results. This may impact your ability to truly measure the value of the page content to users, compare your clickthrough results with previous results, and reach the reader you’re after.
Why your HTML page title matters to Google
Did you put effort into creating page titles only to see something different on the SERP? Google probably wasn’t impressed by your choices.
Google looks to satisfy people doing searches, not so much the creators and owners of websites. They make their money from the users. Google wants to see relevant page descriptions in the HTML title, so users are happy and find the information they’re looking for quickly.
Old school practices of stacking your page titles with keywords and brand names isn’t doing you any favours in Google’s eyes. Google’s looking for you to describe what’s on the page. Is a user going to find the answer to their search query there?
When will Google rewrite your page titles?
Google has shared some reasons they’ll rewrite your title tag:
- Page description that doesn’t match the content of the page
- Empty titles, half empty titles
- Boilerplating – Using the same title for every page of your site (or even most of the pages)
- Obsolete or inaccurate titles
- Stuffing the title with keywords
In order to have good control over how your website appears in the results, you must put some effort into formulating good HTML page titles.
Get better at writing HTML titles
Want to keep control of what shows up on SERPs? Get better at writing HTML page titles.
Be careful of advice you find online about HTML titles. Some of it is still hanging around from the 2000s and will just get you trouble (see what Google doesn’t want you to do just above here).
How do you write a better HTML title?
Here are some helpful tips:
- Folow Google’s recommended best practices, especially avoiding keyword stuffing or boilerplating.
- Write creative descriptions that reflect what’s really on the page.
- Avoid being vague (things like Home – not very descriptive, is it?).
- Keep it short or it likely won’t all show up in the search results.
- Showcase your brand in titles only if you can do concisely.
Need some help with improving your website visibility in the search results? Our SEO professionals are experts at writing effective page titles and enhancing the visibility of your website content.