Do you ever notice when you search for your site in Google that sometimes the link is different than what you set in your HTML title tags? Part of good SEO is quality title tag content. This article explains why Google rewrites title tags in search engine result pages and what you can do to fix it.
Most people know that the HTML title tag is an important element when working with a website and search engine optimization. The title tag should be unique throughout all of your pages, and it should be a small phrase that explains the content of the page. In some cases, webmasters search their site in Google and find that Google rewrites titles in the search engine result pages. Here are some tips when dealing with the issue.
Are Your Titles Keyword Stuffed?
The main reason why Google rewrites title tags in search result pages is keyword stuffing. For instance, if you sell red widgets on a page, a good title might be “Red Widgets for Every Part of Your House.” Instead of creating a great, appealing title, some webmasters just stuff the title with keywords with something such as “Red Widgets, Household Red Widgets, Widgets Red.” The latter title is keyword stuffed content that Google rewrites to something more appealing to users. Always write naturally when working with content.
Do You Even Have a HTML Title Tag?
It’s hard to believe but some webmasters just forget the title tag altogether. You can check for a title tag by opening your website in a browser, right-clicking it and selecting “View Source.” The title tag should be placed between the opening and closing “head” tags. Make sure the title tag is placed inside the head tags. If you place the title outside of the head tags, the code is technically invalid and it can affect the way Google displays titles and how you rank in search engines. The title tag is a strong signal for search engines, so placing it in the wrong section of the HTML can affect your rank.
Empty Title Tags
You might have a title tag, but does it have content? Empty title tags are as bad as not having one at all. Check your code for empty title tags and take note of the meta description on the page. Google takes content from anywhere in the page when no title tag is present. It’s not a guarantee, but the search engine usually takes content from the meta description tag. To change the title in search results, add content within the opening and closing title tags.
Some blog themes include template titles to get you started with your blog. For instance, some templates place “Home Page” in your website’s home page title. Displaying “Home Page” for users isn’t friendly for searchers. The result is that Google rewrites these template titles to match a phrase in your page’s content. Just like empty title tags, Google usually takes content from the meta description tag if you have one. Once you edit the template title to something valid, Google will update the result pages to match your custom title.
If any of these situations apply to you, the obvious fix for the issue is to include good title content in your pages. If you have WordPress, you can use plugins such as Yoast and All in One SEO Pack. Blogger also helps you with your titles. If you have a custom website, you need to ask your developer to give you the ability to add custom titles to your site.
Another issue some webmasters have is duplicate titles. When you fix your titles, always use unique titles for each page. The title should match the page’s content, but use unique titles even across pages with similar content.
After you change the titles, Google must re-crawl and re-index your page for you to see the changes. This process can take days, weeks or even months. The amount of time is dependent on your website’s crawl frequency. You can get an actual crawl frequency when you read web server logs, but you don’t have access to these logs with shared hosting. The average time to see results is a few weeks, but Google Webmaster Tools gives you a detailed review of crawl frequency for you to get a better estimate.
Titles are an easy fix even for an SEO novice. This basic SEO maintenance task can help you optimize your site for Google and other search engines.