When conducting a Google search, searchers consider titles first when determining how relevant a search result is to the query. And it’s for this reason that the Google Search team is continuously updating its algorithms in order to provide the best titles for search results listings.
Until now, Google-based the page title it returned with a given listing on the search query a user had entered. This is no longer the case. Google’s new title update is much more complex and dynamic, with a focus on what a visitor can see on the page visually.
What Happened When Google Changed Their Page Titles
Google has officially confirmed the update to how it generates web page titles as of Suumer 2021. And it happened just a week after SEOs and webmasters began to notice that the title tags on their sites had been replaced in the SERPs by H tags.
While Google rewriting titles isn’t new, the impact of the changes to organic titles appeared to be significant this time.
What’s the Huge Concern With The Change?
According to Google, the update includes a new system that uses a variety of factors and relevant on-page text to determine the best title for a given page. Because Google no longer uses user queries to generate titles, it will now choose only one title, which will be displayed regardless of the query.
The new system is intended to generate titles that are more appropriate for web pages as a whole, as well as better describe the content they contain. In essence, anything that is now part of the page’s content can be used to create the page title that Google will display in the SERP.
When will HTML Title Tags Be Tweaked?
Google has stated that it will only change a page’s title if the HTML title tag fails to adequately describe what the page is about. As a result, it only plans to use other text for this purpose if it believes it can produce a more readable title for searchers. The main focus of this Google update is on text that “humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page.”
In his announcement, Sullivan gave a few examples of when Google rewrites title tags:
- The titles are overly long.
- The HTML title tag is either missing or contains boilerplate text.
- Rather than just describing what the page is about, the title is made up of keywords (for SEO purposes).
What Methods Are Used To Create New Titles?
Google has made changes to the appearance of titles, including but not limited to:
- In the titles displayed, title tags are being replaced by H1 tags or other H tags.
- The addition of a site or brand name to the end of a title.
- Instead of starting at the beginning and truncating more useful parts, relevant sections from HTML titles that are very long are selected.
- Image alt text, image filenames, internal anchor text, as well as other sources of text are used.
The fact that Google has a unique approach to how it expresses page titles doesn’t negate the importance of optimising HTML title tags. On the contrary, it is recommended that you concentrate more on creating excellent HTML title tags that provide the most accurate description of your web pages.
The good news is that the time you spent coming up with unique titles for your web pages was well spent. Sullivan reaffirmed this message, stating that over 80% of the time, original HTML title tags will be used.
Will Title Changes Have an Effect on Rankings?
On August 28, 2021, the SEO community on Twitter asked John Mueller to clarify whether the new update will affect how Google currently ranks pages. This change had no effect on rankings, according to Mueller. He also stated that the changes will only affect the appearance of titles, not the rankings or anything else.
This essentially means that, regardless of the title formed by Google in the search results, the HTML title that authors provide will always be used to rank the page.
If the original title contains a keyword that you’re ranking for and that keyword isn’t displayed in the new title, don’t worry; Google’s search ranking algorithms will still take it into account.
What Are The Consequences Of Google’s Title Update?
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a brand-new update. The situation with page meta descriptions is similar. When it comes to SERP display, Google may choose to ignore the prescribed metas in favour of other content on the page that it has determined to be more relevant to the searcher algorithmically.
This new update “is purely a display change,” according to John Mueller’s Twitter account. As a result, depending on whether your site is in the 20% of cases where titles are rewritten, it may have little to no impact.
While Google assures us that this new approach results in better page titles, we must remain vigilant because the new titles may perform worse than the ones specified by the author in some cases.
The best way to see if your titles have been rewritten is to use Google to search for specific keywords that your pages rank for, as shown in the example below.
For what it’s worth, we haven’t heard of any pages with rewritten titles dropping significantly in rankings. We’ve noticed some fluctuations, which is to be expected when new software is released. You can see an example of how Google replaced the title of one of our pages with the H1 tag below.
You can also keep an eye on the impact of the title change by checking the click-through rate of specific search terms and pages in Google Search Console on a regular basis, as we did in our example. It’s possible that the new update is responsible for any changes in your click-through rate from Google search results.
What Can We Do To Reduce The Adverse Effects Of Google’s Title Tag Update?
The new page titles are not set in stone, as Sullivan suggested because Google’s new titles update is dynamic and reacts to on-site changes.
If Google begins to replace your page titles, it’s a sign that your titles don’t accurately reflect the content of the page. We know that one of Google’s main criteria for deciding whether or not to rewrite a page title is how well it represents what a user will find when visiting the URL.
The obvious goal of replacing titles is to improve the relevancy of search results for users. By following that formula, you can make more relevant and specific titles that are more compelling for the searcher to click on.
If you’re not happy with Google’s selection of text, you can create a new title tag and have that text displayed instead. Because of its reactive nature, Google will evaluate the updated text and react accordingly after you modify the HTML title tag.
Google’s decision on whether or not to display your revised title tag in SERPs is based on its evaluation of the text and how well it describes the page’s content.
This update was implemented to make search results more accessible and readable for Google users, and it is hoped that it will not make SEOs’ job any more difficult than it already is.
Is there an option to opt out?
In a nutshell, no. Google does not allow websites to opt out of having their page titles rewritten. Sullivan has stated on Twitter that he would like SEOs to have a say in whether or not page titles should be preserved when they believe it is important, possibly through a feature in Search Console.
Google hasn’t said whether or not such a feature is being considered at the moment.
The position remains the same: concentrate on creating excellent HTML title tags while also considering the overall quality and relevance of the content. Google’s motivation for replacing titles, as we now know, is to improve search relevancy.