Google rewrites title tags in SERPs
Google rewrites title tags for a limited number of pages in search results, often replacing the text with a page’s H1 tag.
It is known that Google adjusts titles in SERPs by making small tweaks, e.g. B. add the name of a company to the end. But now Google is overwriting titles with other text.
SEOs started noticing this on August 16, as evidenced by tweets mentioning a “massive” overhaul of the title on Google.
The amount of title revisions is currently unknown, but it’s widespread enough that several SEOs have already come across it.
There is evidence that Google is pulling text from H1 tags for most of these revisions. Lily Ray notes, however, that Google replaced the title of a page with the anchor text of an internal link.
This is interesting … I think someone posted about it earlier today:
For the title of this article in the SERP, Google doesn’t just * not * show the
Instead, the anchor text of an internal link to the article is displayed. pic.twitter.com/CmQS4Lvgf9
– Lily Ray 😏 (@lilyraynyc) August 17, 2021
Mayank Parmar adds that Google inserts data into titles in some cases:
For some keywords, Google updated the title of our one article to include the date at the beginning. The date was selected from the url.
It looked something like this:
01/08/2021: Article title
I changed the title a little and it seems fine now.
– Mayank Parmar (@mayank_jee) August 17, 2021
In theory, it sounds like Google pulls every relevant text from a page and displays it as a title in SERPs. This has long been the case with meta descriptions, as Google can dynamically adapt the description in search snippets to a user’s search query.
Brodie Clark suggests that this update isn’t limited to one or two factors. Rather, he hypothesizes that Google can algorithmically create any text to use as a page title:
“In my view, there is no“ one factor ”in this change, with an algorithmic approach aimed at creating better titles in overall Google search results. Be it taking the new title out of a header tag or effectively pulling it out of nowhere. “
He goes on to provide evidence that Google replaced a title with text found on another page of a website. There doesn’t seem to be any limit to where the search engine can get the title text from.
Additionally, Clark notes that when Google rewrites a title, a title tends to be shorter than the original. This indicates that an attempt is being made to improve readability and increase the relevance of a result.
If this is more than a live test discovered in the wild, Google should let SEOs know sooner or later. I’ll bet the Friday Q&A with Google’s John Mueller will ask at least a few questions about it.
What does this mean for SEOs?
It is currently impossible to draw any conclusions about the rewriting of title tags by Google.
Google is known for running A / B testing on live search results, so it’s possible that what we’re seeing will normalize back to normal in the near future.
On the other hand, we may see the initial stages of permanent change. Assuming this is how Google treats titles in search snippets in the future, it could be a good thing for websites.
The obvious goal of replacing titles is to make them more relevant to searchers. If so, a more relevant title might be more attractive to click on.
As for how concerned you should be about this update, I refer to this guide from Mueller. He says titles matter, but suggests that it isn’t worth thinking about:
“Titles are important! They are important to SEO. They serve as a ranking factor. Of course they are definitely used as a ranking factor, but I wouldn’t say the time you spend optimizing the title is really the best use of your time. “
For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen any reports of rewritten title pages falling in the rankings. So that’s a good indication that this change doesn’t make the job of SEOs any harder.