Google has started to rewrite title tags for a limited number of search results pages; this involves replacing text with the webpage’s main HTML heading. 

Google has been known for adjusting title tags in the search results pages by making minor tweaks, such as adding a business’s name to the end of the title tag. But now, Google will be overriding title tags with different text altogether. 

SEO experts began noticing the changes on 16 August 2021, as shown in the tweet below, which mentions a “massive” title rewrite on Google search results. 

It is currently unknown how large a scale the title rewrite will be, but it is widespread enough for multiple SEO experts around the world to come across it. 

The tweet below suggests the tech giant is pulling the text from Heading1 HTML tags for most of the rewritten title tags. Lily Ray mentioned that she has seen Google replace a webpage’s title with anchor text from an internal link. 

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(Image Source: Twitter)

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Another Twitter user replied by saying there are instances where Google is inserting dates into the title. 

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(Image Source: Twitter)

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Theoretically speaking, it sounds like Google may use any relevant text from a webpage and feature it as the result title on the search results page. Similarly, Google has dynamically replaced meta descriptions in search snippets to better match a user’s search query. 

Brodie Clark, an SEO consultant, suggests that this update is not limited to merely one or two factors. Instead, he speculates that Google can algorithmically create any text to use as a webpage’s title:

“From what I can see, there is no “one factor” involved with this change, with an algorithmic approach designed to create better titles in Google’s search results as a whole. Whether that be taking the new title from a header tag or effectively pulling it out of thin air.”

Clark presented evidence that Google is replacing a title with text found on another page of another website. There is no limit to where the search engine may pull in titles texts from. 

“An example of this can be seen for the query “wooden furniture melbourne” when searching from Australia. Before the recent title tag update, the snippet included several locations and the site name was missing due to truncation (going beyond the desktop px limit). The update resulted in the following change:”

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(Image Source: Brodie Clark)

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Furthermore, Clark mentioned that when Google rewrites and replaces a title, it tends to be shorter than the original title. This may suggest that an effort has been made to improve readability and enhance the result’s relevance in search results. 

If Google intends to replace title tags for a more extended period, it should notify SEO experts about the change sooner rather than later. 

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Why should you care?

While it is still impossible to draw conclusions about Google rewriting title tags, the tech giant is known to run A/B tests in live search results. So it may be possible that what we are currently seeing will go back to normal soon. 

In contrast, we may be witnessing the initial stages of a more permanent change, that is, of course, assuming this is how Google will be handing titles in search snippets from now on. 

Enhancing the relevance for search is the goal of replacing titles, and if that is the case, a more relevant title could be more appealing to click. 

Regarding why you should care about this update, John Muller stated in a YouTube video that titles are important and suggest that they are not worth stressing over. 

“Titles are important! They are important for SEO. They are used as a ranking factor. Of course, they are definitely used as a ranking factor, but it is not something where I’d say the time you spend on tweaking the title is really the best use of your time.”

To date, SEO experts have not seen any reports of pages with rewritten titles dropping in ranking. Be sure to check out why Blogging is beneficial to SEO, considering Google is rewriting title tags. 

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