Google Advice on Controlling Titles in Search Results

Google Advice on Controlling Titles in Search Results

Updated support page adds a new troubleshooting section for helping diagnose why Google is rewriting title tags. Google Search Central updated a section of the developer support page that offers tips on how to control the site title that Google uses in the search results.

However Google can change the title link to something else. Some publishers and others in the SEO community have reported that traffic from the search results declines when Google changes the title tag displayed as a title link.

1. Make sure every page has a title tag.

2. Write concise title tags that describe what the web page is about. Google adds that this also means avoiding vague descriptions such as Home Page or Profile.

3. Avoid keyword stuffing.

4. Avoid boilerplate that is repeated across the site.

5. Branding phrases are okay until they become boilerplate. It’s acceptable to use branding phrases on the home page (like, “a place for people to meet and mingle”) but Google cautions against repeating the branding phrase on many other pages.

6. Google sometimes uses what’s in the heading elements in the title links. Because of that, Google advises the use of a distinctive headline, which is usually contained in an H1 or H2 heading element at the top of the page.

7. Use the Robots.txt correctly. Google cautions that the Robots.txt should only be used to block crawling of a page.

According to Google:

“Google looks at various sources when creating title links, including the main visual title, heading elements, and other large and prominent text, and it can be confusing if multiple headlines carry the same visual weight and prominence.

Consider ensuring that your main headline is distinctive from other text on a page and stands out as being the most prominent on the page (for example, using a larger font, putting the headline in the first visible ‘h1’ element on the page, etc).”

Google lists the following factors that influence the title link that Google shows in the search results:

>>> Content in ‘title’ elements
>>> Main visual title or headline shown on a page
>>> Heading elements, such as ‘H1’ elements
>>> Other content that’s large and prominent through the use of style treatments
>>> Other text contained in the page
>>> Anchor text on the page
>>> Text within links that point to the page

The new section is about troubleshooting title tags in order to identify why Google may be changing the title links. The page defines the title that is seen in the search results as a title link. The title link generally originates from what a publisher uses in the title tag.