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Google Changing Title Tags


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16 replies to this topic

#1 copywriter

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 04:37 PM

I'm noticing this happening more and more. I'll do a search while logged in and get title tags for clients' sites that are (probably) DMOZ listing titles. (Basically the company name and nothing more.) Then I'll log out and get the actual description we provided. Or I'll search for one keyphrase (while logged OUT of personal search) and get the DMOZ title instead of the provided one.

I know what Google says about changing the title:

QUOTE
If weíve detected that a particular result has one of the above issues with its title, we may try to generate an improved title from anchors, on-page text, or other sources. However, sometimes even pages with well-formulated, concise, descriptive titles will end up with different titles in our search results to better indicate their relevance to the query. Thereís a simple reason for this: the title tag as specified by a webmaster is limited to being static, fixed regardless of the query. Once we know the userís query, we can often find alternative text from a page that better explains why that result is relevant. Using this alternative text as a title helps the user, and it also can help your site. Users are scanning for their query terms or other signs of relevance in the results, and a title that is tailored for the query can increase the chances that they will click through.


But I'm sorry to say that "Company Name" is not a better title tag for a keyword search than what we provided.

Is anyone else experiencing this with their clients/sites?


#2 Jill

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 06:33 PM

Karon, they change the Title based on the keywords. Were you searching for the company using the company name and/or the website name? If so, then the Title they chose would actually be appropriate.

#3 copywriter

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:06 PM

Yeah, I've seen the title change based on the keyphrase I was searching for, but no, I wasn't (in any of the cases) searching for the name of the company or the URL. Just keyphrases the page was optimized for.

#4 Jill

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 07:48 AM

Then yeah, that's pretty bad. They seem to have a thing against longer titles these days for some reason.

#5 copywriter

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:43 AM

Maybe that's it. They did their own tags and both of the sites I've found this on recently have title tags in excess of 120 characters. I'll get them to shorten them and see if that makes a diff.


#6 copywriter

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 11:28 AM

Seems to only happen when I search for 1 of the 3 keyphrases the client is targeting on that page. Same with both clients. That's funny. The other 2 keyphrases trigger the title tag we provided. Only 1 keyphrase out of the 3 (for each client) triggers the Google-altered title. huh.gif

#7 Jill

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:15 PM

Hey Karon, if you could email me with the details, I'd be interested in taking a look.

#8 danaditomaso

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 12:31 PM

I just saw this happen this morning - was meeting with a potential new client, and when we googled what he does in his city, his site came up (near the end) but the title tag was only the company name, nothing else.

His title tag wasn't well optimized but it was more than just the company name. I chalked it up to a potential indexing issue at the time as his meta description (or any snippet at all) didn't come up, either. But I will be investigating more! Thanks for the heads up.

#9 copywriter

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:15 PM

Here's a video I did about it.



#10 Say Yebo

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 03:16 PM

QUOTE(copywriter @ Mar 7 2012, 01:15 PM) View Post
Here's a video I did about it.



Matt's response to your video is typical of the kind of non-commital nonsense Google spews out from time to time: In general, itís algorithmic and we try to decide when we think a title will be best for users; sometimes a title is descriptive but can come across as too specific or keyword-stuffed.


1. Being specific is what SEO-ing your deeper pages is all about in the first place - as you pretty much pointed out.
2. I see Google doing nothing but rewarding keyword-stuffed titles. It kills me when I write a beautifully crafted title for a client with about 2 good keywords in a grammatically correct sentence and then they get shoved down by sites with titles that say stuff like 'Teddy Bears, Big Teddy Bears, Small Teddy Bears, TEDDY BEARS!'

#11 BlueHorseradish

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 05:06 PM

Thanks for the video, documenting this phenomenon!

I'm seeing the same thing sometimes, not always, in Google results.

To eliminate the possibility that it's DMOZ or Yahoo Directory, you can put in this tag in the head section of the page code.
<meta name="robots" content="noodp,noydir" />.


QUOTE(Say Yebo @ Mar 7 2012, 03:16 PM) View Post
Matt's response to your video is typical of the kind of non-commital nonsense Google spews out from time to time: In general, itís algorithmic and we try to decide when we think a title will be best for users; sometimes a title is descriptive but can come across as too specific or keyword-stuffed.


1. Being specific is what SEO-ing your deeper pages is all about in the first place - as you pretty much pointed out.
2. I see Google doing nothing but rewarding keyword-stuffed titles. It kills me when I write a beautifully crafted title for a client with about 2 good keywords in a grammatically correct sentence and then they get shoved down by sites with titles that say stuff like 'Teddy Bears, Big Teddy Bears, Small Teddy Bears, TEDDY BEARS!'


#12 copywriter

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 05:00 PM

UPDATE: Amazingly, after I brought this to the attention of Matt Cutts, both sites now show up with their normal titles for the same keyphrases that formerly brought up the lame company name titles. "Too relevant." Give me a break!

#13 Jill

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 05:22 PM

What a coincidence! omg

#14 qwerty

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 06:41 PM

This has got me thinking (dangerous, I know)...

With it becoming more common for Google to put what they choose in the place of a page's title in the SERP (which seems to be shorter than the contents of the page's title element in the cases I've seen) and with just about everyone using tabbed browsers these days, which no longer show the page's title right at the top of the window and instead only show the beginning of it on the tab itself, 1) perhaps we should consider the possibility that shorter titles may be more effective (and less likely to get the editing treatment from Google) in the future and 2) maybe the title tag isn't going to carry as much weight as it has in the past. After all, if Google thinks the page is relevant, but the title ought to be changed in order to help express that relevance to the user, then how much can the title be contributing to that relevance?

#15 copywriter

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:45 AM

I could agree that G wants shorter titles. I mean, there are so many people who put a list of 20 keyphrases in their titles that aren't even used once on the page which makes relevance questionable. But what I've seen G changing titles to is stupid stuff... like the company name which was not more relevant (in these cases) than what the site owner provided. And yes, I've thought for some time now that G was inching towards taking total control of the rankings.

The description got the boot, the title tag is (probably) on its way out, personalized search, Your World, etc., etc. It is getting harder and harder to purposelly rank for specific keyphrases. And that's most likely just fine with G.




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