Google: We Show Better Titles Than Your Title Tags

Jul 9, 2012 • 8:50 am | comments (26) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

title tagGoogle has been messing around with the titles displayed in the search results forever. We've covered the topic here several times but it seems with with a recent Google change, Google is more likely to show a different title that what your title tag displays.

Googler, Gary Illyes, said in a Google Webmaster Help thread that often Google is able to pick a better title for the search query than what your title tag reads. He wrote:

Often a single title might not be the best one to show for all queries for a page, so our algorithms may generate alternative titles to make it easier for our users to recognize relevant pages. If you recently changed the content of your page and its title, it may take some time for our algorithms to notice it. While we can't guarantee that your new title will be used, if it's descriptive, informative, there's a fair chance it will be.

Is Google trying to be too smart? Should Google be messing with your title tags? Many SEOs would say they shouldn't be doing this but what Google thinks is best for the searcher is not what SEOs would always believe.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help & WebmasterWorld.

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07/09/2012 01:03 pm

Google will do whatever it thinks is good for a searcher, and if your page has information regarding a query and you have a different title tag, in that case, if Google changes it to more relevant one, it will certainly increase your CTR and I don't think anyone would mind that :)

Lyndon NA

07/09/2012 01:06 pm

Considering the following; 1) The volume of stuffed titles for SEO Gain 2) The amount of tightly targeted titles for SEO Gain 3) The number of uninformative tiles 4) The quantity of searchers that don't acknowledge synonyms It's not surprising that G have resorted to this. I can kind of see why some SEOs/SiteOwners may not like the changes; but if it is simply a case of G seeing and generating "as well", is not depleting Relevancy for the original terms, and does not show a "less relevant" or "less effective" title, then there is no real "harm".

Robert Cerff

07/09/2012 01:08 pm

Google have a point here. While most pages worthy of ranking for a topic generally stick to that topic, there could be many ways to look for that particular page. I've often included a few variations of a title and just broken them apart with the ever popular pipe | I've found that Google will at times use one or the other, but rarely uses the whole title when displaying the page in the search results. Obviously this changes depending on search terms being used. Ultimately however this does make it more difficult to see what is exactly working.

Limor Barenholtz

07/09/2012 03:07 pm

While I do see the logic behind this Google move as far as the SERPs go, as a webmaster I'd hate someone changing my titles. SEO or not - people usually think about the title aspect and come up with whatever they think fits best, or whatever they want to say. Google may make the SERP nicer, but it takes all the creativity away...

Webstats Art

07/09/2012 04:07 pm

The SEO community do not know much. Most of them do not have college degrees and they cannot prove any of their theories using a scientific approach. This is why they were all beaten by Panda. Matt Cutts has a college degree and his advice on producing high quality content is the answer. The SEO must follow him if he wants to progress in the Google circle. What we REALLY need to do is to produce the highest quality content on the net . Remember that content is king.. LOL!

josh bachynski (SEO)

07/09/2012 04:47 pm

If your title is relevant to the query in questions, and is relatively unstuffed / written for humans, it will not be replaced. Therefore make your title both relevant to the important queries (2 max 3) and a real call to action written for humans and it will not likely be replaced on those important queries. That being said, it would be interesting to see if people's traffic increased from better SERP CTR after one of google's algo generated title changes - maybe google's algos can choose better titles than most SEOs...? Only for the novice blackhats


07/09/2012 09:38 pm

If titles are being changed for all websites at Google's discretion, doesn't this level the playing field? On the surface it may appear to be very advantageous, and it would be if only a few select sites were impacted. But because all are included in this process, I don't see the benefits.


07/10/2012 02:26 am

It's illegal use of copyrighted material in most cases. I'm not sure how they figure this is even legal. You can't go change the title of your favorite book at the library.


07/10/2012 05:38 am

I do not see problem in that. Google considers links pointing to website as important signal. If many users think you are important on a topic and link accordingly, no wonder Google should consider that along with what is there in the title of site. Also, if you think from webmasters perspective, average webmaster who is not too aware of SEO stuffs (including those who still use 'Untitled Page') probably want Google to index it. On other hand, if webmasters or SEOs are too smart and have many of them use same keyword set on Title, there needs to be differentiation for searcher to choose. Google should interfere in that case too I believe.


07/10/2012 10:40 am

I think this would be fine if we had a meta tag to tell Google not to do this, in the same way as the NOODP directive works. But I think Google are trying to be too smart with this and I expect sites are going to see CTRs and potentially conversion issues as a result.


07/10/2012 11:10 am

the problem is that definition of high quality content is not always clear. What is best quality for you may not be best quality for me or 100 million other people. 99% of webmasters hit with panda or penguin were certain they had high quality content on their sites but still they got hit. This is grey zone, where high quality can mean 1000 different things.

Lee Wilson

07/10/2012 11:11 am

I actually find myself agreeing with Google on this (and based on the vast number of things they have changed in 2012 I even surprised myself on this) as specific pages that have substantial content value are likely to display for a number of search queries that will range quite dramatically in topic and requirement so adding in potential variation to this in a similar fashion as PPC ads have for a long time can only be beneficial for things like CTR which we all want. In addition to this, I would rather Google just display what they think for queries less suitable to your current page title than not displaying the page for this search or more importantly not penalising people for page title unintended potential over optimisation (this could cover things like the use of pipes in titles etc).

Dewaldt Huysamen

07/10/2012 11:18 am

I do not believe Google should be messing with this. So now if our CTR sucks and Google is changing our Titles on SERPs then do they penalise themselves? haha


07/10/2012 11:54 am

Sometimes Google turns my title into a completely unrelated subject-with no connection whatsoever to what I typed in!

Scott McKirahan

07/10/2012 01:45 pm

I think it's funny reading comments about what Google should or should not be able to do with people's titles. It's their search engine; they can do whatever they want. Stop whining and live with it.


07/10/2012 02:24 pm

There should be an options in WMT so all web masters can choose yes or no to the question: are you a bloody spammer ? If the answer is no then Title tags should be untouched as probably those are not that manipulative :)

don quichote

07/10/2012 10:07 pm

this just means that every fraggle could do seo and let u (who spends money on optimizing your page) look like a retarted idiot kid ;)


07/11/2012 01:09 pm

them doing better work than human or god, very clever, smart, stupid google


07/11/2012 01:11 pm

it specially to you get a lower ctr. do you think google changing titles for good? no, because MFA search engine!


07/12/2012 08:28 am

eighter Google's or Putins algos will change my titels... brave new world!

Rajasthan India

07/12/2012 11:47 am

Will it beneficial for our site??


07/13/2012 04:33 pm

This is good stuff, but nothing new....Google will usually display different metadata if they think it's a better fit for a keyword.

Construction Consultants

07/31/2012 09:14 pm

We have noticed that in many cases it is brand related


09/24/2012 03:43 pm

They're not changing the title of your page. They're changing the way your page is described on the SERP. They can do that in any way they please.

Design Junction

02/26/2013 02:32 am

If a website owner has specifically created Title tags, then it is annoying of Google to override these.

Fiza Mahmood

04/06/2014 06:55 am


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