No Title Tag? Google May Use Text From Next "Large Font"

May 31, 2010 • 8:35 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Most webmasters and SEOs know by now that Google tends to typically use the title tag of the page as the blue, clickable link in the search results. But that may change based on query or other things. But what if you are missing a title tag in your page source, what would Google use?

I spotted a thread in the Google Custom Search Help forum discussing this. I should note, Google Custom Search is not the same as Google web search, but they do pass over similar algorithms and techniques, as one would imagine.

Googler, Prathap Reddy said in that thread:

Google uses the title of the document from file properties as title of the search results. If no title is found, the first found large font is used as title for the document, with some exceptions.

Now, again, I am sure this can be easily verified with some SEO testing but as far as Google Custom Search goes, if the title tag is not there, Google may use the first large font found on the page as the title (clickable link) from the search results.

Forum discussion at Google Custom Search Help.

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05/31/2010 12:49 pm

Hi Barry, I noticed that a few years ago, I reported it on my blog, Google was clearly using the H2 tag of the document because the title tag was missing. Some said it could have been the text used in links pointing to that page, but that wasn't the case. If people want to read the post I did:


05/31/2010 01:10 pm

"Google was clearly using the H2 tag of the document because the title tag was missing." I'll concur with this behavior. There are quite a few hints you can provide using semantic markup. In addition to the <h> Elements being used as <title>s, the use of properly named and formatted Fragment IDs on those <h> Elements produces additional benefits. ;)

Bob Gladstein

05/31/2010 03:15 pm

I put up a test page regarding this (I was actually trying to find out if a "meta title" tag would be recognized as a title) about half a year ago. I'm finding that Google is using an <h2> (which is the first heading that appears in the code), Bing is using the <h1>, and Yahoo is using the anchor text of the links to the page from the navigation menu. At least in this case, Google's choice is the least relevant. The <h2> it's using is the heading for a menu rather than specifically for the page. See

Bob Gladstein

05/31/2010 03:21 pm

Sorry, of course my HTML got cut out. Google is using an h2, and Bing the h1


06/01/2010 07:19 am

I've found out as well that Google can use the anchor text that link to a page as the page title showed in the SERP when nothing else is available

Michael Martinez

06/01/2010 06:44 pm

Yeah, there is no need for SEO testing on this issue. Google's use of large fonts has been well documented through the years. If anything, SEO tests would probably only show there is no correlation between Google's description and large fonts on the page.


03/17/2011 01:33 am

No Title Tag in and is 402 no title what the placement for a title on the home page under the name McLean Landscape - Maintenance (#10 Print) are we saying next line is title

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