You will get more information on how Google generates titles for web page results in this article. In this way, you can figure out why Google changed your web site title. One of the primary ways people determine which search results might be relevant to their query is by reviewing the titles of listed web pages. That’s why Google Search works hard to provide the best titles for documents in Google results to connect searchers with the content that creators, publishers, businesses, and others have produced.
Also, while Google has gone beyond HTML text to create titles for over a decade, their new system is making even more use of such text. In particular, Google are making use of text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page. Google considers the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within <H1> tags or other header tags, and content that’s large and prominent through the use of style treatments. Other text contained in the page might be considered, as might be text within links that point at pages.
HTML title tags don’t always describe a page well. In particular, title tags can sometimes be:
- Very long.
- “Stuffed” with keywords, because creators mistakenly think adding a bunch of words will increase the chances that a page will rank better.
- Lack title tags entirely or contain repetitive “boilerplate” language. For instance, home pages might simply be called “Home”. In other cases, all pages in a site might be called “Untitled” or simply have the name of the site.
Overall, Google’s update is designed to produce more readable and accessible titles for pages. In some cases, Google may add site names where that is seen as helpful. In other instances, when encountering an extremely long title, Google might select the most relevant portion rather than starting at the beginning and truncating more useful parts. You must focus on creating great HTML title tags. Of all the ways Google generate titles, content from HTML title tags is still by far the most likely used, more than 80% of the time.
Google’ve used text beyond title elements in cases where Google’s systems determine the title element might not describe a page as well as it could. Some pages have empty titles. Some use the same titles on every page regardless of the page’s actual content. Some pages have no title elements at all.
Examples of going beyond title elements
Google new system is designed to address even more situations where going beyond the title element might be helpful. Here are some examples of things Google detects and adjusts for, which are based on real issues they see across the trillions of pages they list.
A half-empty title often occurs when large sites use templates to craft titles for their web pages, and something is missing. The template might put a summary of the page first in the title, followed by the site name. In half-empty titles, the summary is often missing, which produces titles like this:
| Site Name
Google’s system is designed to detect half-empty titles and adjust by looking at information in header elements or other large and prominent text on the page. This can produce a title in line with what the site itself likely intended to happen, like this:
Product Name | Site Name
Obsolete titles often happen when the same page is used year-after-year for recurring information but the title element didn’t get updated to reflect the latest date. Consider a title element like this:
2020 admissions criteria – University of Awesome
In this example, the title is for a page about getting admitted to a university. The page has a large, visible headline that says “2021 admissions criteria” but for some reason, the title element wasn’t updated to the current date. Google’s system detects this inconsistency and uses the right date from the headline in the title to say this:
2021 admissions criteria – University of Awesome
Sometimes titles aren’t accurately reflecting what a page is about. For example, the page could have dynamic content with a title element like:
Giant stuffed animals, teddy bears, polar bears – Site Name
It’s reasonable that people would expect to find these named products appearing on the page. But this is a static title for a page with content that dynamically changes. Sometimes these products might appear, but sometimes they don’t.
Google’s system tries to understand if the title isn’t accurately showing what a page is about. If so, it might modify the title so that the use better knows what to expect, like this:
Stuffed animals – Site Name
Boilerplate titles are fairly easy to detect. Google sees the same title on all or nearly all the pages within a site. Micro-boilerplate titles are where Google sees boilerplate title elements within a subset of pages within a site. Google’s system detects and helps with these cases, just as they do with boilerplate title elements overall.
Consider an online discussion forum about television shows. It might have areas for different shows, and then for each show, it may have areas for threads for individual seasons. The micro-boilerplate title elements appear on the season pages. The titles omit the season numbers, so it’s not clear which page is for what season. That produces duplicate titles like this:
My so-called amazing TV show
My so-called amazing TV show
My so-called amazing TV show
Google’s system can detect the season number used in large, prominent headline text and insert those in the title, so the titles are more helpful:
Season 1 – My so-called amazing TV show
Season 2 – My so-called amazing TV show
Season 3 – My so-called amazing TV show
Guidance for site owners
Google’s main advice to site owners about titles remains generally the same as on Google’s help page about the topic. Focus on creating great HTML title elements. Those are by far what Google uses the most.
Beyond this, consider the examples in this post to understand if you might have similar patterns that could cause Google’s systems to look beyond your title elements. The changes Google’ve made are largely designed to help compensate for issues that creators might not realize their titles are having. Making changes may help ensure your title element is again used. That’s really Google preference, as well.
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