Recently, Google came up with an update where they will not be showing titles that website owners or SEOs put in the title tags. Instead, Google will show a more visual title that can be seen or read by normal users.
Title tags are usually placed inside the <title></title> HTML tag. The text placed inside this tag is not visible to users when they land on the page. Somehow, Google feels this is not right as website owners and SEOs have been trying to trick people into clicking on the search results by creating title tags that encourage clicks.
Now, Google is using the heading tags to be shown as title tags. Here is an example of what I have seen.
In the image above, it can be seen that the actual title for the page is ‘Amazon.com: kids hoodies’ and this should be displayed in search results. However, Google is showing the title as ‘1-48 of over 10000 results for “kids hoodies” – Amazon.com’. I looked at the source code and found that this text is placed inside the heading tag and is now used by Google to show as a title in search result pages.
Another example taken from VistaPrint.com.au, where Google chose to display the heading on search results rather than the title.
Why is Google Making Changes To Titles?
The biggest question now is why is Google making these changes? As per Google, there are three main reasons for this:
- The titles are very long.
- Titles are stuffed with unnecessary keywords.
- Some websites might have no title tags at all or have irrelevant title tags like Home, Untitled etc.
Google says they will continue using content inside the HTML title tags for more than 80% of the time. Which means that this update may only impact pages that either have the title too long, irrelevant or stuffed with keywords.
My Take On Google’s Update on Title Tags
I personally think this is a good move by Google. SEOs have been trying to increase the CTR by using irrelevant title tags and this update should take care of it. Here is an example.
The above title suggests that Michael Jackson is not dead. A reader might click on this result to find out if Michael Jackson is really alive. But the article talks about some other topic altogether. This screenshot is taken from Bing and maybe one of the reasons why Google is far more advanced.
Passage indexing can be a reason why Google is taking this step. Google announced about how they can crawl and index a certain section of the page and rank it. Now, the title of the page might not be very relevant to the passage that Google plans to rank. Hence, Google may ignore the title of the page and show the heading of the passage rather than the title of the page.
For example, let’s assume I am writing a review for movie Jungle Cruise and the HTML title for the page is Jungle Cruise Movie Review. Inside my review article, I include a paragraph which talks about Dwayne Johnson or The Rock. In this paragraph, I mention about what The Rock has achieved in his career and a few lines on his wrestling career. This passage might not be fully relevant to the title of this article “Jungle Cruise Movie Review” and Google chose to rank it for a query about The Rock. In this case, Google may change the title tag which is relevant to that section or passage which is shown in search results.
I think this is a big move by Google and the update might have a few bugs. In long run, updates like this will help Google gain more trust from its users and stop SEOs from using techniques that can manipulate their rankings or traffic.