How Google Picks Your Title In Search Results

Jan 13, 2012 • 8:28 am | comments (18) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

title tagThere are often complaints in the forum that Google is not showing your title tags in the search results properly.

Yesterday, Google wrote a blog post named Better page titles in search results. Here, Pierre Far, explains why Google may pick a different title tag.

In a Google+ post he gives the short version:

  • Our algorithms generate thee alternative titles so that your page is no longer constrained with having just the one title for all the different queries your page ranks for. This has the nice side effect of making the result look more relevant to our searchers and...
  • On average, the alternative titles increase the clickthrough rate on the results, i.e. more traffic for you.
  • The <title> tag is still a primary source for titles we show so all our advice about make them concise and useful and enticing still very much apply. Keep an eye on the HTML Suggestions page in the Diagnostics section in Webmaster Tools for title suggestions.

For a more detailed walk through of this, see the Google Help document on this topic.

Forum discussion at Google+ & Google Webmaster Help.

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Robert Cerff

01/13/2012 01:47 pm

I have noticed that by creating multiple titles within my title tag (separated by a pipe) that Google may at times pick one or the other depending on the search.  In much the same way as multiple sentences in the description tag may result in one or the other being used as the snippedt. But still not guarantee as I've seen H1's or other onpage content also used.  Interesting never the less.

Jill Whalen

01/13/2012 01:56 pm

Once again, Google knows best. (Or so they think.)

Mihaela Lica Butler

01/13/2012 02:20 pm

So the algorithm replaces human effort to create relevant titles. Now that's what I call Google AI. Not sure how fair this is for publishers, writers, etc. But Google's search engine is Google's search engine, and if we don't like the liberties they take with our content, we are always free to block indexing,  n'est ce pas?

Pierre Far

01/13/2012 03:16 pm

Hi Jill One point to note is that a single title specified by the webmaster in the HTML may not be the most relevant or enticing for all the different queries a page can rank for. These alternative titles effectively give a page multiple titles and our algorithms pick the one most relevant to the search query - it's like having dynamic titles. We find that having titles more tailored to the query tends to be more convincing to searchers that the page is a relevant result and so tend to get a higher CTR. Of course, no algo is perfect and if you do see a case where the title we're picking doesn't seem that great, please let us know, on the forums or on Google+. Hope this clarifies it a bit more. Pierre

Dan Whitehouse

01/13/2012 04:47 pm

I give thee alternatives squire! :)

Aaron Bradley

01/13/2012 05:27 pm

Google has long extrapolated titles from page locations other than the title tag, most notably for topical content sources from the title information provided by an RSS feed. It is not untypical for a blog owner to have a CMS (mis)configured so that every post HTML title bears only the title of the blog.  In such cases Google tends to select the RSS-supplied title rather than the page-level HTML title. This seems pretty reasonable to me.  It's certainly going to be more informative for users to see a post title for a post in the SERPs rather than endless repetition of the linked header "John's Blog." It would be interesting, Barry, to know if you have every seen something besides your posts' HTML title content in the SERPs, as I know your on-page title (H1) is typically different than your HTML title. Ha ... answered my own question.  If you Google "How Google Picks Your Title In Search Results" (but not as a phrase - i.e. without the quotation marks I just used) here are the two results. 1st result - Google News: How Google Picks Your Title In Search Results 2nd results - Web: Google Explains Why Your Title Tag Might Not Show In Search ... The first result is the title in your RSS feed (would be interesting to know if it is also the title in your Google News Sitemap, if you use one).  The second is, of course, the title tag of this post.

SEO New York

01/14/2012 12:50 pm

This post for me is important, I actually find my website title as "SEO NEW YORK" when searched in Google, but as my title is sumthing else which includes the same term also, but it shows only this term, rest other phrases are not visible... Some times I thought that this is some kind of issue associated with my own website, but this post helped to find the exact story about that.. Thanks

John Slocum, Vancouver

01/14/2012 04:29 pm

I've seen that happen in some of the results for some of my pages, and now it makes some sense as to why an alternative appeared. 

Dirty Seagull

01/16/2012 08:45 am

Need to go back a juice up my title tags 

Website Consultancy

01/17/2012 08:59 am

Google and its goalposts. yes there may benefits, but what about SEOs who have crafted their page title to read exactly as they want it to read - well maybe it's one more job off the list.

James Etim

01/17/2012 02:27 pm

nice post. we need alot of SEO stuff here too. check more about website and optimization here 

Alireza Sefati

03/30/2012 08:12 pm

t0 my experience this happens a lot in ecommerce. I think best way is still have the most "unique" content including product names as well so that way google doesn't have any history and will be forced to read title tags,

First Page Google

04/30/2012 05:32 pm

 Good info on the title tag. My title result was always being cutoff or altered in a way that was less enticing to users. Was very frustrated at first, but finally tweaked the title so that it was enticing and "G" approved...


01/24/2013 05:51 pm

1) Sometimes, if you are listed in DMOZ (ODP), the search engines will display snippets of text about your site taken from them instead of your description meta tag. You can force the search engine to ignore the ODP information by including a robots meta tag like this: . The "NOODP" robots meta tag is fully supported by Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.


02/20/2013 07:12 am

can somebody please tell me unique title tags for a website that provides content writing service? Please tell me the length and maximum characters for unique title tags. Thanks

Dana Alley

06/14/2013 08:16 pm

I write concise and researched title tags within the character limit...gawd, I wish Google would just use them...


09/07/2013 07:36 pm

I had excellent Title tags for 7 years and now Google has decided that their selection is better than mine? How absurd... This should be done for every website then as it is an unfair practice. How can they see it otherwise?

Herman Nz

03/06/2014 04:32 am

Still confused to compete a blog or site with English language Content and Indonesian blog's one. How should I reduce it to be global result in search engine by Optimizing Title Tags since languages play important role to achieve the objectives (perhaps).

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