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Google Confirms Update to Generating Web Page Titles

Google has officially confirmed it is updating the way it generates web page titles in search results.

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

“Last week, we introduced a new system of generating titles for web pages. Before this, titles might change based on the query issued. This generally will no longer happen with our new system. This is because we think our new system is producing titles that work better for documents overall, to describe what they are about, regardless of the particular query.”

Google’s new system of generating web page titles has been documented extensively since it was discovered in live search results last week.

As was observed by those within the SEO industry, Google is in fact replacing web page titles with other on-page text:

“Also, while we’ve gone beyond HTML text to create titles for over a decade, our new system is making even more use of such text. In particular, we are making use of text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page. We consider the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within <H1> tags, within other header tags, or which is made large and prominent through the use of style treatments.”

When replacing web page titles, other text contained in the page might be considered.

Google may also consider using text within links pointing at pages.

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

Why is Google using more than HTML title tag text?

Google may consider using other text in cases when a page’s HTML title tag doesn’t adequately describe what it’s about.

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

  • Too long
  • Stuffed with keywords
  • Contain no text or boilerplate text

“Overall, our update is designed to produce more readable and accessible titles for pages. In some cases, we may add site names where that is seen as helpful. In other instances, when encountering an extremely long title, we might select the most relevant portion rather than starting at the beginning and truncating more useful parts.”

The fact that Google is taking a different approach to generating web page titles doesn’t make optimizing HTML title tags any less important

Sullivan says as much in sharing his advice following the update.

“… our main advice on that page to site owners remains the same. Focus on creating great HTML title tags.”

If you’re wondering whether it’s still worth your time to create unique titles for your pages, the answer is 100% yes.

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

In testing, Google claims this update produces titles that are easier to read and preferable to searchers compared to the old way of generating titles.


Can I opt-out of this update?

Websites cannot opt-out of having their page titles replaced by Google.

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

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

There’s no word on whether any such feature is being considered within Google at this time.

Source: Google Search Central

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google Confirms Update to Generating Web Page Titles

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