Google’s Perspective on the Benefits of Matching Title Rewrites

3 min read

John Mueller of Google responded to whether aligning the title element with how Google rewrites them in the SERPs is a sensible idea.

An observant user on Mastodon pointed out that Google frequently altered the title elements on their webpages, often omitting the site name from the title.

This observation made them consider that Google may view the site name as redundant, prompting them to contemplate removing the site name from the title tag entirely.


Should You Align Your Title Tag with Google’s Rewrites?


Here’s the user’s question:

“Google is making title changes, often excluding the site name from the title. For instance, if your page title is ‘What is SEO and how does it work? | Site name,’ Google rewrites it as ‘What is SEO and how does it work?’ We shouldn’t include the site name in the title tag (since Google already includes it).”


And here’s Google’s John Mueller’s response:

“I wouldn’t automatically assume that a rewritten version is superior (for both SEO and user experience), and I recommend retaining your site name in the title. This helps confirm the site name we display above the title. Besides, it’s a well-established practice, so that I wouldn’t change it solely for Google’s sake.”

In a follow-up remark, Mueller added, “Now that you’ve brought it up, I can imagine that many people might be considering this (aligning the title element with what Google displays)…”


Is Aligning the Title Element with Google’s Display Good for SEO?


When assessing whether it’s advantageous for SEO to match the title element with what Google presents, it’s essential to examine this within the framework of how the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has articulated the definition of that element.

The W3C sets the benchmarks for HTML standards, and Google largely adheres to those standards.

According to the W3C, the title element’s purpose is to specify the content of the webpage (referred to as a document) and what it is focused on.

This is the official definition of the title element:

“The TITLE element specifies the title of a document.

…It should identify the document’s content in a reasonably broad context.

The title is not part of the document’s text but is a property of the entire document.”


The key points to note about the title element are:

  1. The title tells the content of the document within a broader context.
  2. The title element is a characteristic of the entire document.

This implies that the title element isn’t an independent entity like an individual header; instead, it serves as a communicator representing the entire document.


Google’s official title element guidelines, as found on Google Search Central, closely align with the W3C recommendations, with some additional nuances.

Google suggests that title elements should be both descriptive and concise. It’s emphasized that title elements should steer clear of vagueness.

Furthermore, Google recommends the inclusion of a concise branding element in the title. This allows for the use of the site name. Still, it’s advised to refrain from excessive repetition of marketing slogans throughout the entire site as it may not meet the criteria of being genuinely concise.


Why Google Adjusts Titles


A few years ago, Google began revising more titles, which garnered complaints from many SEO professionals.

A common theme in the examples shared by these individuals was that the title elements frequently needed to be revised to convey the page’s content. While the title elements often included the targeted keywords, they needed a more concise description of the page’s content.


This observation is not surprising, as many SEO websites typically suggest adding keywords to the title tag rather than emphasizing the importance of describing the page’s content.

Of course, if a keyword is relevant to the document’s subject matter, including it in the title is advisable.

Another reason behind Google’s title revisions is that the overall page description needs to be better-suited. For instance, Google often ranks a webpage for what constitutes a subtopic of the main subject covered on the page.

This occurs when Google ranks a webpage for a phrase in the middle of the document.

Modifying the title element to align with the context of what the page is ranked for is a logical approach.


Google Search Central concurs with this, stating:

“The title link aims to represent and describe each result accurately.”

If Google is ranking the page for a subtopic of the main subject, it’s reasonable for Google to adjust the title element to something that pertains to the search query.


Key Point: Is Matching Google’s Title Rewrite a Wise Move?


It’s likely not advisable, as Google could rank the page for a subtopic. If you need a reality check on your title element, consider using ChatGPT to summarize your document in ten words. Most website owners have a good understanding of their page’s content, so trust your judgment.

If you still find it perplexing and challenging, explore our monthly SEO packages and let our experts assist you.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]