It’s widely acknowledged that Google occasionally tweaks SERP (Search Engine Results Page) titles by making minor adjustments, such as appending a company’s name to the end. However, Google has now taken it further by replacing titles with entirely new text.
Since page titles play a crucial role in providing context to search engines, they substantially impact click-through rates. Nevertheless, a recent study reveals that Google goes further and rewrites page titles more than 60% of the time.
A recent investigation conducted by Zyppy.com analyzed over 80,000 title tags from 2,370 websites to assess how frequently they were used in search results. The findings indicate that, at least partially, Google has rewritten approximately 61.6% of these title tags.
Upon closer examination, specific criteria that influence the likelihood of Google rewriting a title tag were identified. Google’s primary objective is to present searchers with the most accurate and relevant title tags to provide context for the web page’s content. Consequently, if a title tag doesn’t meet these standards, Google’s algorithm modifies it.
This number generally agrees with an earlier study conducted by Dr. Pete Meyers and another by Alexis Rylko using slightly different methodologies. To be fair, many of these Google rewrites are minor (while many aren’t) but 61% is still a very large number.
If Google rewrites a significant number of your titles, it can be helpful to understand why they do this, because Google’s algorithm obviously believes it can write better titles than you.
These are the following scenarios, where Google is more likely to change/ rewrite title tags
- Length: overly long titles and short titles
- Using the same keyword more than once
- Use of title separators, such as dashes “-” or pipes “|”
- Titles with [brackets] or (parentheses)
- Identical “boilerplate” used across many titles
- Missing or superfluous brand names
This is stressful for website owners and SEO experts who have spent a lot of time constructing the perfect title tag. The title tag changes made by Google ranged from a single word to a complete rewriting.
Can we prevent Google from making changes?
SEO experts and website administrators often craft tailored page titles with the desire that they appear precisely as intended. Yet, there’s always uncertainty regarding whether Google might alter them. In a recent Twitter discussion, Google’s Search Advocate, John Mueller, suggested that the prospect of a method to prevent Google from modifying metadata is improbable.
However, there is a glimmer of optimism within the metadata realm. H1 tags hold significant importance in Google’s ranking algorithms, and aligning the H1 tag with the title, even when it contains elements subject to frequent modification, like pipes, can substantially reduce the likelihood of a rewrite to just 20.6 percent.