SEOs who have spent time carefully crafting the perfect page title get understandably upset when Google decides to rewrite the titles they display for those pages in the search results. And there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to when or why they will replace the titles. But thanks to an English/Hindi webmaster office hours, we now know a lot more about why Google replaces the title and how it does so.
Aaseesh Marina from Google, one of the hosts of the English/Hindi office hours, was asked about Google rewriting the titles for some pages in the Google search results. And it appears that if Google does rewrite the title, that anchor text plays a large roll.
If we see anchor text from website A linking to website B, sometimes we can pick, depending on the user’s query, sometimes we pick the anchor text that links from A to B as the title for that particular search result. Again, we obviously want to serve results that make the most sense for the users, users are what we try and make the best possible results for and in some cases if we think the anchor text is a good title, and it is more relevant for that particular query, then we’ll serve the anchor text.
He also says that the same page can be served in the search results with different titles, dependent upon the search query.
Again, this is case by case basis, for the same page, for the same search result, the title can be different between different queries.
This would definitely prevent any attempt to sway any title tags that could possibly be rewritten with anchor text (not to mention the host of other problems that can crop up with selective use of anchor text) if the same page can be displayed with multiple titles.
It does explain why we sometimes see what can only be explained as extremely odd anchor text in the search results.
If you are interested in seeing what titles are displaying in the search results, you can sometimes see them by doing a site:example.com search in Google.
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