Google confirms update of web page title generation

Google’s Danny Sullivan confirms that the search engine is updating the way it generates web page titles in search results.

“Last week we introduced a new title generation system for web pages. Prior to that, the titles may change depending on the request issued. Usually this will not happen again with our new system. This is because we believe our new system produces titles that work better for documents in general, to describe what they are about, whatever the particular query.

Google’s new web page title generation system has been widely documented since its discovery in live search results last week.

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As those in the SEO industry have observed, Google is actually replacing web page titles with other text on the page:

“Plus, while we have gone beyond HTML text to create titles for over a decade, our new system uses that text even more. In particular, we use text that humans can visually see when they land on a web page. We consider the title or the main visual title displayed on a page, the content that site owners often place in tags

, in other header tags, or that is made large and prominent through the use of styling treatments.

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When replacing the titles of web pages, other texts contained in the page may be taken into account.

Google may also consider using text in links pointing to pages.

Why is Google doing this? Sullivan goes on to explain.

Why does Google use more than HTML title tag text?

Google may consider using alternate text in cases where a page’s HTML title tag does not properly describe what it is.

Sullivan says title tags don’t always describe a page well because they can be either:

  • Too long
  • Stuffed with keywords
  • Does not contain text or boilerplate text

“Overall, our update is designed to produce more readable and accessible titles for the pages. In some cases, we can add site names when deemed useful. In other cases, when we come across an extremely long title, we may select the most relevant part rather than starting at the beginning and truncating the most useful parts.

Just because Google takes a different approach to generating web page titles doesn’t make HTML title tag optimization any less important.

Sullivan says the same when sharing his post-update advice.

“… Our main advice on this page to site owners remains the same. Focus on creating great HTML title tags.

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If you are wondering if it is still worth the effort to create unique titles for your pages, the answer is 100% yes.

Don’t leave it to Google. Sullivan says original HTML title tags will still be used more than 80% of the time.

In testing, Google says this update produces titles that are easier to read and more searcher-friendly compared to the old way of generating titles.

Can I turn off this update?

Websites cannot refuse to have their page titles replaced by Google.

Sullivan said several days ago that he would like SEOs to have at least one option when it comes to preserving page titles.

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It suggests a feature in Search Console where you could tell Google not to override the HTML title tag of specific pages.

It is not known if such a feature is being considered within Google at this time.

Source: Google search center

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