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Heads Up! Google May Be Changing How Your Website’s Titles Appear in Search

By: Cody Albright    September 30, 2021

By now, it’s not really a surprise when Google decides to make updates to one of its various products or offerings, especially on search. The words “change” and “Google search” have been associated with each other for years. It is, however, still very important to keep up with these various changes to ensure your website’s presence online remains strong. That’s why we wanted to update you on a recent change Google implemented on how it can show search titles of organic listings in its search results pages.

As given away by the name of this article, Google now reserves the right to change the title that shows for your website’s Google search listing to a title completely different than what’s in the HTML title tag on your website. For example, Google may use text with the <H1> tag from the page of your website’s result in place of what you have explicitly laid out in the title tag. There have even been instances seen where Google would use the titles of articles simply linked in your website’s own article (…wild!).

All of this said, using more than just what’s in the title tag for a given page has been something Google has done for years, so this update is more of a lateral optimization rather than a vertical one. What makes this optimization unique is the breadth of deviation possible from your website’s original title tags. The good news is that Google claims content from HTML title tags will still be used “more than 80% of the time,” and Google still recommends focusing on creating clear and descriptive title tags for a given page.

Why would Google make these changes? The answer boils down to enhancing the experience of the searcher while allowing for a better preview of the content on the page. Many pages across the web contain title tags that are lacking in quality by having too little text, too much text, text that’s too spammy or keyword stuffed, or text that doesn’t do (in Google’s eyes,) the best job describing what is on the page as it relates to the query used to show the result in the first place. While this change could cause negative changes in click-through rate for already well-established pages, it’s also possible that this change could help increase the click-through rate of a page with solid content but poor technical SEO.

To handle and work through these changes, continue to regularly check Google Search Console to catch any unexpected fluctuations in traffic across your website. If you find Google is making change that negatively impacts a previously well-performing page, then play around with the titles within the article and resubmit for indexing or update the HTML title tag. If Google made some changes to the title of a page and the page is driving higher clicks and traffic, then make note of why that may be happening to better optimize future pages you create.

Have questions about the above? Concerned your website may be impacted and want help? Reach out to us! We’d be happy to assist you.