Algorithm Rolled Out: August 16, 2021

Algorithm Overview: Overall Gist

Google has unveiled a new method for creating title tags for web pages. When SEOs noticed strange title tag rewrites appearing in the SERPs, the upgrade caused a stir. Google has a previous history of changing title tags. Since 2012, this search behemoth could override HTML title tags in some circumstances. The way they create title tags, on the other hand, has been altered, and SEOs were among the first to discover the changes. 

In the past, Google has displayed title tags that are more relevant to a searcher’s query using meta tags and public information. The new technique is intended to give titles that are appropriate for every inquiry, lowering the likelihood of a webpage showing various titles based on search intent. Google is now generating suitable title tags from the text on a page.  

According to research, the following are the most common ways Google modifies the names of web pages in search results:

  • Google uses the header tag as a source of information.
  • Subcategories or breadcrumb names are now added to the center of title tags by Google.
  • The ellipses (…) from shortened titles are being removed by Google.
  • Numbers or dates of titles are added by Google.
  • When adding brand names, Google replaces pipes (|) with dashes (-).
  • For titles, Google uses picture alt text or filenames.
  • Superscripts or other punctuation appearing alongside headlines are (often accidentally) added to titles by Google.
  • Google changes or inserts titles based on data obtained elsewhere on the page (in rare cases)

This innovative approach of generating titles for websites is used by Google to make titles in search results that are simpler to read and correctly convey what the website is about. It’s nothing new for Google to try to improve the user experience in search results. Google started rewriting meta descriptions in 2020 in order to better match them to the search query and properly represent what’s on the web page.

The Impact on Pages

Changes to title tags can have an influence on rankings, but only if they are made directly on the website. Although Google’s rewritten title tags have no impact on SERP ranks, they can affect CTR. If Google replaces the title tag with material that does not match the context of the page, searchers may scroll past the result, resulting in a decrease in CTR. For an NPR piece about Beyonce becoming the first black woman to wear the famed Tiffany diamond, Google made this blunder when their algorithm substituted an HTML element with a shortened form of an H1> tag.

Because Google creates title tags, the click-through rate may influenced. CTR may have a direct influence on keyword rankings since it shows how a user interacts with an item in search results.

Algorithm Solution: Ways to implement or take to cope with Google algorithm guidelines

While using Google’s title tag generator is unavoidable, there are certain steps you can do to assist Google in avoiding changing title tags. The following are the best choices:  

  • Keep title tags to a minimum. Google will almost certainly alter your titles if you use long HTML title tags. To minimize undesired changes, keep titles to less than 65 characters. 
  • Keyword stuffing should be avoided. Only use keywords in title tags when they are necessary. If you stuff too many keywords into a title tag in an attempt to boost ranks, Google will ignore it. 
  • Repetitive language should be avoided. Don’t use generic title tags for the homepage, such as “Home.” Google’s technology has the ability to change any boilerplate wording. 
  • Always include a title tag in your document. Ensure that every page includes a title tag. Otherwise, Google will most likely create one for you.

For SEO purposes, title tags are still important. The Google change aims to make page names more legible, accurate, and accessible to searchers. Your title tags will displayed in search results if they match these requirements. If Google ignored your title tag and pulled in other text from the site, this is a solid indication that your title tag might improved. You can utilize tools like Screaming Frog to pull coded title tags at scale. 

Real-Time Implementation Example

Changes to title tags can have an influence on rankings, but only if they made directly on the website. Although Google’s rewritten title tags have no bearing on SERP ranks, they can affect CTR. If Google replaces the title tag with a copy that does not match the context of the page, searchers may scroll past the result, resulting in a decrease in CTR.

Google recently made this mistake when their system replaced an HTML tag with a truncated version of a <H1> tag for an NPR article about Beyonce becoming the first black woman to wear the iconic Tiffany diamond. 

Google picked the H1> tag over the HTML tag in this example. The title tag truncated due to the length of the header, cutting off a crucial section of information.

Title length affects rewrite probability:

This was true a year ago, and it remains so today.

Titles with 11 to 60 characters have a far lower risk of altered than those with less or more characters.

The chart below shows the same data from last year; notice how the rewrite percentages have risen across the board, but the pattern remains the same.

Title Rewrite Length Chart 2020
Takeaway: Do you want to do a CTR test? To avoid rewrites, keep titles between 20 and 60 characters long.

Rewrites in Title Tags and How to Avoid Them:

While using Google’s title tag generator is unavoidable, there are certain steps you can do to help Google avoid changing title tags. The following are the best choices:

  • Keep title tags to a minimum. Google will almost certainly alter your titles if you use long HTML title tags. To minimise undesired changes, keep titles to less than 65 characters.
  • Keyword stuffing should be avoided. Only use keywords in title tags when they are necessary. If you stuff too many keywords into a title tag in an attempt to boost ranks, Google will ignore it.
  • Repetitive language should be avoided. Don’t use generic title tags for the homepage, such as “Home.” Google’s system has the ability to change any boilerplate wording.

Always include a title tag in your document. Make certain that each page contains a title tag.

We’ve known for a long time that Google will occasionally change the title of a page in the SERP based on the query. However, on Monday, August 16, several SEOs began to notice that their titles had completely altered, which was a bad thing.

We noticed this as well since one of our most popular pages suffered a significant hit as a result of the move.

chart showing CTR drop up to 37% from google rewriting page title

Final End Result

It’s possible that these changes linked to changes in your click-through rate from Google search results. Hopefully, those adjustments are for the better since providing headlines that people want to click on is a win-win situation for Google. If not, Google stated that it would continue to improve. It’s vital that SEOs keep providing input on the title tag system modifications, as well as any changes that occur in real-time.

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