In an Office-hours hangout Google’s John Mueller answered the question of what algorithm factors are used to decide title tag rewrites. Mueller offered suggestions for a proactive approach for dealing with the title tag rewrite problem.
What Factors Influence Title Tag Algorithm?
The person asking the question wanted to know what factors influenced Google’s algorithm to change title tags.
The question about title tag rewrites:
“In the summer Google released an update in title generation for web pages. Could you tell us what factors this new algorithm decides which titles should be changed.
We tried using the new documentation on this but nothing seems to work.
The update affected some of our pages, most of the time it’s a category page, its title is cut and the brand domain name is added.
We’ve noticed some other sites in the search results have this problem at the same time.
We see that our main rival in the search results have the same titles they’ve been using since before the update.”
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John Mueller On Fixing Title Tag Rewriting
Algorithm Factors for Title Tag Rewrites
The person asked for title tag algorithm factors that go into deciding when to rewrite title tags.
Google has already offered that information in documentation of how the title tag rewrite algorithm works.
So Mueller suggested reading that. Mueller mentioned that fact and then moved on to offering tips of what that person should do if they’re not happy with how their title tags are being rewritten by Google.
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The person asking the question mentioned that it seemed to be happening with category pages so the answer to why might be what Google calls, “Micro-boilerplate text in <title> elements.”
Boilerplate in this situation means content that is repeated, like in a template. That’s something that could happen in a category page that could make it less descriptive of what is on the category web page.
Or it could be that the existing title tag is simply not accurate but rather a bunch of keywords the publisher wants to rank for.
A highly common title tag mistake is to use the title tag to seed it with keywords instead of using it to describe the web page.
John Mueller responded to the question:
“I think we have some information in the last blog post that we did about these title changes. I would definitely check that out.”
Title Tags No Longer Tied to Individual Query
An interesting insight that John Mueller shared is that titles are no longer tied to individual queries.
Mueller continued his answer:
“One of the I think bigger changes here that happened is that the titles are no longer tied to the individual query.”
How to Fix Title Tags
Mueller next discussed how to troubleshoot the title tag to find the best one.
“So it’s something that is really on a per page basis.
On the one hand this means that it doesn’t adapt kind of dynamically. So it’s a little bit easier to test.
On the other hand it also means that it’s easier for you to try different things out in the sense that you can change things on your pages and then you could use the submit to indexing tool and see what happens in Google search results, what does it look like now.
Because of that, it’s something where I would recommend if you’re seeing weird titles on your pages just to try different approaches out and see what works, what’s best for your website, for your kind of content and based on that to expand that to the rest of your website.
So that’s kind of the direction I would take there, to essentially just try it out and try different approaches out.
And because it’s really static on a per page basis, it is something that is a lot easier to experiment with a little bit and to see well what are the different options that I can do
here, how can I show my company name or my website’s name, how can I show the title that is relevant here and all of those different things.
From that point of view, just try things out.”
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Mueller continued his response, addressing the part about how the competitor’s title tags aren’t rewritten by stating that Google doesn’t target sites for title tag rewriting.
How to Respond to Title Tag Rewrites
Mueller didn’t expand on what he meant by, “titles are no longer tied to individual queries.” That might be a good question for someone to ask him at next weeks office-hours hangout.
He also advised that it’s okay to change the title tag and submit the URL via search console to see if Google responds favorably to the changes.
Google Search Central Title Tag Documentation
What to Do About Weird Title Tag Rewrites
Watch Mueller Discuss Title Tag Rewrites at the 12:41 Minute Mark: