The title tag is the clickable link that appears in search engine results when people search for something online. These tags are an essential part of search engine optimization (SEO), as they increase visibility and help users find what they are looking for. Google announced a title tag update that many website owners have felt apprehensive about since it gives Google the option to change a tag as needed to match its new guidelines.
Read on to learn more about this title tag update, what causes Google to make changes, and how you can improve your title tags moving forward.
Google’s Title Change
In early 2021, Google made an update to how they handle website title tags. Previously, the tags that appeared in search results were often written by the website owner or their content team. With the new title tag update, Google has started rewriting tags to more closely align with the content on the page as well as what users are searching for.
On the Google Central Search blog, Danny Sullivan, Search Liaison, said, “Overall, our update is designed to produce more readable and accessible titles for pages. In some cases, we may add site names where that is seen as helpful. In other instances, when encountering an extremely long title, we might select the most relevant portion rather than starting at the beginning and truncating more useful parts.”
Overall, this update is meant to give people more useful and relevant information when they make search inquiries. This is part of Google’s goal of creating a better user experience and more accurate search results.
Why Is Google Changing Title Tags?
If you want to minimize the chance that Google will change your title tags, you need to know why they might change them in the first place. Several factors could influence a title tag rewrite, including length, special characters, and more.
If your title tag exceeds the recommended length of 60 characters, Google automatically cuts off anything past that limit. When your title tags are reduced, it is harder for users to determine if your page has the information they are looking for. If your title tag is under 50 characters, it is too short. In this case, Google may rewrite or add to your title tag to ensure there’s enough information.
Currently, it’s estimated that Google changes 95% of title tags that are too long or too short. To reduce the chance of Google changing your title tags, keep them between 51 and 60 characters.
Google does not like special characters like brackets or parentheses in title tags. If your current title tag has a bracket, it is highly likely that Google will remove the brackets — and any words in between them. This happens around 77% of the time for brackets and around 61% for parentheses, which can be frustrating for SEO practices. It’s best to avoid these special characters to minimize the risk of a Google title change.
It’s common practice to use title separators like dashes, colons, and pipes when creating title tags. However, with Google changing title tags, the pipe isn’t the best option anymore. Google removes pipes from title tags about 42%, while dashes get removed or changed less than 20% of the time.
After the main reasons listed above, there are a few other factors that could contribute to a Google title change. These include:
Duplicate title tags
Unnecessary brand names
Matching content to search queries
Since Google focuses on accurate information and delivering an excellent user experience, these additional factors significantly increase your chances of a title tag change.
Impacts of Google’s Title Change Update
As with any change, there are several impacts, both good and thought-provoking. To understand how this title tag update could influence your business, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
Once a title tag is changed, it could affect how a page is ranked in the search results. While the changes Google makes are aimed at improving the user experience and, hopefully, SERP rankings, there is a chance that your page may rank lower after an update.
An improved and optimized title tag can increase the chance that users will click on the link, which increases your click-through rates.
The reason Google implemented this title tag update in the first place was to improve the overall user experience. The updated title tag should include accurate and relevant information that helps users find what they are looking for faster.
Companies and SEO professionals may need to tweak their approach to title tags to ensure they are matching Google’s new guidelines. Doing this can potentially stop Google from changing the tag while maintaining search engine visibility.
How to Create Better Title Tags
Google’s title change update may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several things you can do to improve your title tags, ensure they rank better, and limit the risk of Google changing your tags.
Highlight Page Content
Google is changing title tags to better match the content on the page. This means you can take a proactive approach and add it from the start instead of waiting for Google to potentially change it. Try to focus on the main topic or theme of your page and find a way to highlight it in the title tag. This makes the tag more descriptive and accurate, which increases the likelihood of it being displayed in the SERPs.
Use Different H1 Tags
Don’t make the mistake of using the same or nearly identical H1 tags on every page of the site. Doing this makes it harder for Google to differentiate between pages, meaning your content may not rank well compared to competitors. Try expanding your H1 tags to be more descriptive, then rework them to be shortened for title tags. Now your title tags and H1 will be more closely aligned and should perform better on search engine result pages and SEO title checkers.
Focus on Both Audiences
While Google favors content that is written for a better user experience, the title tag should be geared toward both readers and search engines. This is because, as previously mentioned, the title tag should reflect the main point or theme of the page, which then encourages users to click on the website link. When you have a well-crafted title tag, you are more likely to increase traffic to your site.
Create Concise Tags
Even the best-written title tag will be cut off by Google if it is too long. That’s why you should aim to have a descriptive, concise title tag that is between 50 and 60 characters. Additionally, try to avoid filler words or unnecessary phrases, as these won’t add value to your title tag. When the tag stays within these parameters, it is easier for Google — and users — to understand what the page is about, and it can help increase click-through rates.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Title Tag Optimization
In addition to knowing how to create better title tags, there are a few common mistakes you should also try to avoid if you don’t want Google to change your title tags.
Over-Optimization and Keyword Stuffing
Your title tags should be optimized and contain keywords, but you don’t want to overdo it. Aim for one or two keywords while still creating a cohesive, readable title tag that users can easily understand.
Ignoring Branding and Unique Selling Points
Don’t forget to include your brand name or other company identifier that promotes brand awareness. This is the best way for customers to find you and to help your business build and maintain a positive online presence. You should also try to include a unique selling point (USP) to highlight what helps you stand out from competitors.
If you skip either of these factors, you could limit your exposure, reduce the chance of capturing a reader’s attention, and increase the possibility of a Google title change.
Skipping Targeted or Engaging Titles
Your title tags should be informative and accurate, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Display the details in a concise and engaging way; otherwise, you’ll risk alienating your current and potential audiences.
The Future of Title Tags
It’s likely that Google will continue releasing title tag — and overall SEO — updates as internet usage continues to evolve. Website owners and digital marketers will need to stay on top of these eventual chances to ensure they rework their SEO strategies accordingly. If this feels overwhelming, don’t worry; you don’t have to face it alone.
At Avalaunch Media, our dedicated team of SEO professionals and digital marketers is here to help you navigate any current and future updates that Google releases. Contact us today for help with all your marketing needs.