At last week’s Google Dance Tokyo, during the Q&A, Gary Illyes was asked about Google rewriting title tags, and if Google would ever allow SEOs the ability to prevent Google from rewriting them. And Illyes had some interesting responses on both of those.
We will never quit rewriting titles. We’ve seen so many sites whose title really suck. A lot of sites have no title; a lot of sites have a title saying “Top Page”.
In fact, Google almost always rewrites titles. We couldn’t provide useful results to our users if we quit rewriting titles. Experiments showed us users preferred written titles. So, we’ll continue to write titles.
Illyes is definitely right, there are some horrible titles on webpages out there, even large ones. Whether it is putting the site name first for every single title tag, or just having the site name as a duplicate title on every page of the site, there are definitely a ton of ways that website owners have accidentily tried to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to titles. And when it comes to searchers, they aren’t likely to click a title tag if it merely says “Homepage” unless it is exactly the homepage they are looking for.
It is interesting that Google does do that much title rewriting, and we often see titles for the same page change based upon the query. This can increase CTR if Google can change the title to one that shows the page to be relevant to the search query, but the webmaster’s chosen title might not reflect that best for the query.
When it comes to Google providing a tool, such as a meta tag, to prevent a page’s title from being rewritten, Illyes said not to expect anything like that, since it has such a potential to be spammed.
We also won’t provide ways to prevent rewriting entirely. We anticipate they can be abused. For example, keyword stuffing.
Lastly, he has advice for SEOs who aren’t happy with how Google is rewriting their titles
Send us feedback that are on the bottom of search results pages if you don’t like rewritten titles.
Last year, Aaseesh Marina from Google talked about rewriting title tags and how they can be based on things like anchor text.
Thank you to Kenichi Suzuki, a Google Top Contributor in Japan and popular SEO blogger, for translating the Google Dance Q&A for The SEM Post. We will have his full Google Q&A report tomorrow.
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Jonathan Jones says
What about meta descriptions? I’ve got an example where Google have scraped content from a page and what they’ve added to the description is pure gibberish or a mash up of sentences from various parts of the page. Our meta description is fine… I’m not really complaining too much about it because we know occupy three lines instead of the natural 2, so we are getting more SERP real estate.