In August 2021, Google updated how it generates page titles.
It now rewrites title tags by inserting information from the webpage. Previously, Google would only make minor edits, such as adding a business name.
Keep reading to learn more:
Even before the update, Google would change the title tags for a better search experience.
Instead of showing webpages with title tags of Homeand Untitled, it adds meaningful and relevant titles to improve the page’s click-through rate and user experience.
With its new system, Google finds an alternative text from the page’s text that’s more relevant to the result. By making the title more relevant, Google helps users find the information they’re looking for.
Google confirmed that it uses default title tags 87% of the time. It’s the remaining 13% of titles that it rewrites.
If we understand Google’s rewrites, we can learn why Google changes title tags.
While Google does not specify a recommended length for title tags, most desktop and mobile browsers only display the first 50-60 characters of a title tag.
Here’re the three ways Google truncates the title.
Google performs a simple truncation whenever a title tag is too long. Google does not change the text on the title tag — it only cuts the text to shorten it and adds an ellipsis (…) at the end.
A less common type of truncation is when Google shortens a title and adds the brand name or page name at the end.
After the August 21st Google update, Google has started truncating many titles without displaying ellipses. It takes relevant alternative text from page elements, such as headers.
With Google’s new system, users can find the information they’re looking for quickly, increasing their chances of clicking the result.
Another way Google shortens title tags is by removing stuffed keywords. Google makes the title tag more concise.
Google adds text to the title tag if it’s too short. It may add context, brand names or both to the title tag.
In the above example, it expands the title by taking text from the H1 tag to provide more context for the searchers.
Google also rewrites title tags by adding brand names, either before or after the title.
No one knows for sure; we can only guess.
For the example below, the title tag was acceptable because it was descriptive, but Google added the brand name at the end.
Perhaps, it has to do with the title length and search result’s authority. The title had 61 chars, so Google replaced it with WebMD, which has fewer chars and is also a recognized brand.
If the brand name is long, Google can combine some H1 content and the brand name. But Moz shares that it rarely happened in over 30,000 title rewrites it analyzed.
Google’s new update also plays around with the location of brand names.
For example, it sometimes changes the location of brand names from the beginning to the end and vice versa.
We suspect that Google changes the brand name’s order to shorten the title tag. See the examples below.
When Google started changing the way it rewrites title tags, a few websites reported tag rewrite errors and a 37% decrease in clickthrough rates — but the title tag update coincided with the link spam update, so you can attribute it to that.
Google improved how it rewrites title tags by providing context for users, encouraging them to click on the search result.
Ensure the quality of your pages’ titles by following these best practices.
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