Google Not Listening To Your Title Tag? You're Not Alone

Feb 21, 2011 • 8:56 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

title tagA featured WebmasterWorld thread has dozens of complaints from Webmasters and SEOs about Google selecting a different title from what the Webmaster placed in the title tag.

What is the title and why is it so important? The title is in the page source code, labeled 'title,' it is used when you bookmark pages in your browser and typically used by Google for what they display as the blue hyperlink in the search results.

Google, for years, have been selecting dynamic titles for the search results when they deem that other titles are more appropriate. In fact, Google told us when they pick alternative titles, which includes (1) titles are particularly short, (2) titles are shared across large parts of your site and/or (3) titles appear to be mostly a collection of keywords.

A thread at WebmasterWorld has a small uprising with webmasters who are upset that their title tags aren't showing in Google's search results. They don't match the title tag from their page source code and are thus very upset.

Here is an example, a search for [apple] versus [computers]:

Google Titles

Google Titles

And as you know, Apple.com's title tag is simple "Apple."

So what is going on here? Is there a bug at Google or did Google ramp up when they show special titles that do not exactly match the title tag in the page's source code?

Some are even asking if the title tag change at Google is related to major Google shifts going on.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Google Webmaster Tools Reporting Negative Links?
 

Comments:

LebSEO Design

02/21/2011 02:18 pm

Barry do you think its because its picking it up from Dmoz? Apple Computer, Inc.? http://www.dmoz.org/search?q=apple+computers&cat=all&all=no and there is not robots noodp to restrict the titles from picking it up from dmoz 1 and ydir 2

Barry Schwartz

02/21/2011 02:20 pm

That could be. But this is beyond Apple.

aaronwallseo

02/21/2011 02:43 pm

It is done intentionally to increase perceived relevancy. I have seen them use on-page headings, link anchor text ... all sorts of stuff in there.

Tad Chef

02/21/2011 02:49 pm

I've seen that quite often in many different cases. It's not that new though or did something change recently? Also it's not just Dmoz title tags. There are lots of cases where Google simlpy appends keywords or changes them altogether. Sometimes even headings from the page are displaed as the title.

Coupons

02/21/2011 02:55 pm

I don’t find any bug in the title of Apple, not even in any other websites title. Though, I know that Google is in process of updation and some of the websites have lose their SERP’s . The bug I found lately is that I see description of a website in meta tag but Google isn’t showing it in it’s search results.

theGypsy

02/21/2011 03:41 pm

Agreed with Tad here... this is something that's been going on with Google for some time now, as U say Barry, might be that it's ramping up. And for the record, Bing has been doing it for more than a year now. All in all though, interesting.

Chris von Nieda(SEO)

02/21/2011 04:03 pm

If there is a change happening it doesn't surprise me at all. Google is getting more aggressive and I think ultimately they will decide how sites show in the SERPS and disregard anything that can be manipulated by the Webmaster like the title tag.

AJ Kohn

02/21/2011 05:11 pm

I've seen this quite a bit lately across a number of clients. I reached out and confirmed with Google that they've been experimenting with algorithms for titles for a while. The recent increase in changes may be evidence that the algorithm is working or simply that they're experimenting on a broader set of terms and/or results.

BayanSell

02/21/2011 05:55 pm

Does this mean we should use longer titles?

Greg McMurdie

02/21/2011 08:12 pm

It appears that Google is addressing a need for those sites that are not being fully optimized. Surely Apple would want to appear in the SERPs for the generic word "computers" just as much if not more than their brand name.

Nuttakorn

02/22/2011 06:03 am

For the case of Apple, i think it creates less relevancy and confuse to audience, since Apple has been rebranded from Apple Computer to Apple inc since 2007. I think it is good for some case that might help increase of CTR but it may not be reflect to brand message.

Guest

02/22/2011 02:49 pm

I believe this is a smart way for Google to get around people gaming the title tags, I have noticed that instead of the title tag for the page, Google has actually used a links title tag to display for my website's sitelinks. The title of my page is "Car Dealer Websites" and somehow they are showing "Car Dealer Website Design" in my sitelinks. Whats weird is I actually have a page with that title tag, and they have it labeled as "Dealer Website Design", which are both wrong. I do not want to block these pages in my webmaster tools due to the fact they are important pages, so all I feel that I can do is go do some quality link building with the proper anchor text.

Jonathon Hewitt

02/22/2011 02:49 pm

I believe this is a smart way for Google to get around people gaming the title tags, I have noticed that instead of the title tag for the page, Google has actually used a links title tag to display for my website's sitelinks. The title of my page is "Car Dealer Websites" and somehow they are showing "Car Dealer Website Design" in my sitelinks. Whats weird is I actually have a page with that title tag, and they have it labeled as "Dealer Website Design", which are both wrong. I do not want to block these pages in my webmaster tools due to the fact they are important pages, so all I feel that I can do is go do some quality link building with the proper anchor text.

SEO Chester

03/01/2011 12:04 pm

This Apple example could be most likely attributed to Dmoz , that is the old news as Google has been doing this for years with company names in titles attained from Dmoz, but this title selection Google is now using is happening on sites that are not listed in Dmoz too, funny thing being I have read quite a few posts on this yet no one has any clear answers? I have a few sites that I am carrying out research on this aspect as I feel it is an important change in how a website displays in the SERP and could strongly affect both ranking and CTR's, would you agree?

blog comments powered by Disqus