Google has confirmed it changed how it creates titles for search result listings
So what does that mean for your website?
One week after the update, Google published a short guide on how titles will be generated going forward.
The key takeaway is that Google’s main criteria for determining when to replace a page title are how accurately it represents what a user will find when visiting the URL. Google will likely make an assessment of the on-page text and decide how well it describes what’s on the page.
Using this new information, and my own research I’ve compiled everything I have learned so far about Google’s update:
- The update occurred Monday, August 16.
- Before, Google often used searcher queries when formulating the title of the search result snippets. But now, Google said, it “will no longer” use queries.
- Google has said their new system prioritizes descriptive words, and titles that describe what the page is about, and what visitors can visually see on the page. (For eCommerce, I think this will mean things like product price, sizes available, men/women, how it is used etc).
- Google stated that the HTM title is still by far the most likely used, more than 80% of the time.
- Shorter titles appear to be less likely to change. i.e Titles under 50 characters.
- The update appears to be having the biggest impact on CTR. I’ve seen approximately 30% drops across many websites.
- The chance of titles being changed decreases the higher a sites domain authority is.
- If Google changes the title it is pulling in the H1 >50% of the time.
- It doesn’t sound like Google is going to offer a way to opt-out of page title rewrites.
Many people have shown a lack of excitement about Google’s latest update
SEO’s have taken to Twitter to share their feelings:
This has been said by many, but I’ll happily echo it. Google’s title tags update is nonsense.— Jono Alderson (@jonoalderson) August 26, 2021
Look how it changes the tense (and the case) from ‘Create’ to ‘created’ here.
That undoubtedly makes that snippet confusing; it changes my expectations of the page.
le sigh. pic.twitter.com/X9V4xtNhcS
My title tags vs. Google’s title tags. pic.twitter.com/o4wr2yxc75— Carl Hendy (@carlhendy) August 27, 2021
It appears many SEO’s lack confidence in Google’s title choices. Google’s own Danny Sullivan has an idea that could keep everyone happy. He proposes an update to Search Console that would allow users to indicate when they want to keep a specific page’s HTML title in the SERPs. However, there is nothing to confirm that this will actually happen.
My thought is that we could perhaps allow a set number per site, maybe 5-10, and also with an expiration period. That way people wouldn’t make wholescale long-term mistakes accidentally, but we have some balance for when our automatic title selection might not be preferred.— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) August 20, 2021
As with every Google update, we as SEO’s must keep a close eye on our analytics to see the true effect it will have on the pages of our website. Using a combination of experience, judgment and learning from our peers we can conquer the latest SEO challenge.
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