Why Google is Rewriting Title Tags and How to Prevent It

search engine optimization

Most of us know that Google has the capability of changing meta descriptions that appear in search results, and they sometimes do. Instead of displaying the meta description you created, Google will display something they have taken from your content. In addition to these meta description changes, Google also changes website title tags.

Here we share helpful information explaining how often Google makes title tag changes and the reasons Google chooses to disregard the specified SEO title that a site sets out to use.  Further, we will discuss some tips you can use so Google uses your preferred title tags.

What is a Title Tag?

With search engine optimization (SEO) there are many website details that play a significant role in your rankings. Title tags are one of those details and they have a bigger impact than you may think.

As the book title can capture the attention of an individual, the meta title tag of a page is an invitation for users to go to your website in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

The simple definition of a title tag is that it is an HTML tag that outwardly identifies a web page title. That’s how significant website title tags and page title tags are in your SEO strategy.

How to Update the Title Tag

There are two methods of updating or editing a title tag, including making direct edits to the HTML, or by changing the title tag in your website’s control panel. 

Updating the Title Tag in Your Website’s Control Panel

Websites today are designed and built with a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress. To perform the edit you need to look for the section in your website control panel that allows you to change meta tags. The edit is as simple as that.

However, if you have difficulty changing the title tag through your control panel for any reason, you will then need to directly edit the HTML code. 

Editing an HTML title tag

To edit the title tag of your homepage in your website’s HTML code, simply open your website’s main page in a text editor interface. You will find the title tag inside of the header near the top of the page (<title>Example Title</title>).

Edit the text between the opening and closing title tags only.  Once you have completed the edit, hit the save button.

How to Optimize the Title Tag

To make your title tags more effective, you want to optimize them for search engines and enhance them for easy user reading. Here’s how you do it.

  • Make the title tag 50 to 60 characters long. This includes spaces.
  • Include important keywords first and put our brand name at the end since users search for products or services and not necessarily a specific brand name. Product or service keywords are very important, but not too many.
  • Make certain it is relevant to the page.  Your title tag should always be a quick summary of the page that it represents; otherwise Google may decide to display an entirely different title in SERPs.
  • It must be readable to a human. It is important to remember that your pages and content, though ranked by search engines, are read by viewers and users. When your title tag is readable by humans, it makes your page clickable on SERPs and remembered in bookmarks.
  • The title tag must be different from the page headline. You don’t want your page headline and title to be identical. This would reduce your chance of using different keywords. Your H1 headline is an important place for keywords, so it’s best to make them different from your title tag.
  • Don’t stuff keywords in your title tag. Google’s algorithm watches out for this. You need to make your title tag sensible. Stuffing will hurt the readability of your tag and Google or other search engines will then penalize you for any keyword stuffing.
  • Use a different title on every page. The title tag needs to be specific to the page content.  Each page should have its own title tag so as to differentiate it from other pages. Pages typically require different keywords, which means the title tag should be optimized accordingly.

Understanding Why Google Changes Title Tags

Google changes title tags all the time. Partial changes are often made because the titles are too long to be fully displayed in search results. However, when title tags are changed completely it is not typically because of the title length, but for a lot of other reasons. 

  • If your tag is not unique, and if it is stuffed with keywords Google is likely to change it.
  • The title tag does not match the search query, Google will rewrite the title. 

Remember that the goal of the title and the search result snippet is to best describe each result and reflect what the user will find on that specific page. For more detailed information on why Google changes title tags, you can read Google’s Detailed Explanation here.

How to Keep Google from Changing Your Title Tag

To reduce the likelihood of Google editing or rewriting your title tags follow these simple steps.

  • Create unique titles that are descriptive. It is important to make certain that every page on your site has its own unique title that identifies what a user will find on that page. If you do not use unique titles, then users will have a poor experience and Google is more likely to change the title or omit your page in top search results.
  • Be sure titles are not too long, so they can be displayed in search results. Google will display SEO titles with 580 pixels in search results. If your website title tag or page titles exceed this limit, then Google may edit the title or truncate it so it does not display fully. 
  • Avoid stuffing keywords in your titles. As mentioned before, do not stuff your titles with lots of keywords of synonyms for your keywords. This will often result in Google editing your titles.
  • Do not write clickbait titles. Clickbait titles refer to tag titles that do not accurately describe the content that a user will find on your page. You don’t want to try and trick users with deceptive tactics or clickbait titles. If you do, Google will more than likely change your title or omit your page from the top results.

Looks Can Be Deceptive

Title tags might not seem that important to you, but they are. Remember, the first thing users see on the results page is your title tag. If you’ve formulated a very effective Title Tag but Google didn’t use it, you’re entrusting the fates to decide your web page’s SEO destiny.

Don’t be that person. Take control of your Title Tags and be on your way to a better SEO future.