Why it’s vital to optimize page titles.

Google released an update in August 2021 that altered the way some web page titles appear in search results. How will this update effect your website?

The August 2021 update has been found to effect around 13% of web sites that have either no page titles or what Google considers a bad web page title.

Google used to generate titles for these pages based on the search term entered by the user. The new method, now appears to apply a static web page title to the whole page.

That represents a shift from being dynamically driven by the user’s search query to being static based on the page’s content. Whether you believe that’s a good or bad thing, the easiest approach to keep Google from dictating your web page titles is to do them the right way, from the start.

So, first and foremost, what are web Page Titles in the context of SEO?

These are the blue clickable links you’ll see within Google search results pages, whether you call them web page titles, title tags, or title links.

These titles are one of the major indications that your visitors will use to decide if a web page is relevant to their search query. In addition, they are used for navigational purposes when you wish to click on them and visit that web page.

Why is it important to have good web Page Title links?

Page titles are crucial for your Search Engine Optimisation efforts. They are critical in assisting consumers in choosing which web page to visit when browsing search results. An intriguing page title distinguishes the website from others ranking in the search results, which is important for generating more clicks.

It’s debatable if click through rate is a major ranking element, but we do know that a high click through rate indicates a favourable user experience. And, without a doubt, user experience is a ranking element.

Google’s RankBrain, a component of Google’s core algorithm, uses click through rate, bounce rate, and dwell duration to rank websites in search results. If your title appropriately represents the content, your users are more likely to stay, which contributes to a pleasant user experience.

Why is Google showing different organic Page Titles since August 2021?

With this new algorithm update in August 2021, Google hopes to make page titles more accurate to the user, reflecting the page content rather than the search query.

The nicest part about this update is that Google has actually provided us with advice on the most prevalent difficulties with web page title links and why Google may modify them.

Google says that prior to the update, they changed about 20% of page titles. However, just 13% will be impacted. This is because they’re adopting a more focused approach to modifying title links, aiming to update just those where the title element may not adequately convey the content.

These are the explanations given by Google as to why the title link in search results may differ from the title element.

  1. Titles are unfinished, which means they are either half-empty or altogether devoid of any form of useful descriptive material.
  2. The title has not been altered to reflect an update to the primary content. This disparity might arise on a sale page (eg, Easter Sale 2019..) that utilizes the same URL year after year.
  3. The title does not correctly represent the main substance of the article. Or there’s repetitive boilerplate language in the elements for a fraction of a site’s pages. This implies that the text appears for a lot of different titles. Google’s example is a forum with separate pages for each season of the same TV show. When the unique identifier, in this example the season number, is left out of the title element, Google may determine the right season number as it appears on the webpage and change the title appropriately.

If any of these flaws exist in your page title, Google will produce fresh text for the page title link.

So, how does Google come up with alternate page title links?

It will generate title links based on the visible information on that page. As a result, it will search for text that consumers can see that best expresses that topic. That information is most likely obtained from:

  • The content in the core Heading elements
  • Content that is big and visible due to the usage of style treatments
  • Additional text on the page
  • And finally, any anchor text used on the page

What does this signify for the rest of your SEO strategy?

You’ll be relieved to know that this update is unlikely to have an immediate influence on your rankings. This is due to the fact that Google still scans the page title as it appears immediately on the web page for indexing, i.e. the text coded within the element.

However, if Google decides to modify your title links, this might produce changes in click through rates and conversion rates, which can affect your rankings over time. This is why it’s vital to optimize page titles directly on the webpage rather than relying on Google to do it for you.

Optimized page titles also indicate to Google that the content is of high quality, and excellent content is, of course, a main ranking consideration.

Remember that Google will only change titles if they do not satisfy the new criteria. As a result, the more you optimize them, the more influence you’ll have over how your brand appears in search results.

How to improve your Page Titles.

To prevent having your titles shortened or chopped off by Google, keep them short and under 65 characters. When applicable, brand the titles by including the site’s name at the beginning or end of the title, separated from the rest of the content by a colon, hyphen, or pipe.

For the home page, avoid using ambiguous wording such as “Home.” Avoid keyword stuffing (as with any SEO efforts!). Google prefers titles that assist people in answering their search queries, whereas overstuffed, over-optimized titles do not.

While adopting these best practices might not guarantee that Google won’t modify how your titles appear in search, it will reduce the potential that they’ll be changed and ensure that you control as much of the user experience as possible.