Google Clarifies Title Tag Guidelines

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Google has updated Search Central’s guidelines to control how it displays title tags in search. The update didn’t change the guidelines themselves, but it did make them much simpler and removed multiple ambiguities in the wording that made them hard to read.

Google changes title tags

Title tags are meta elements whose purpose is to describe what a web page is. These are also ranking factors.

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For this reason, many publishers use the title tag to indicate keyword phrases for they want the web page to be relevant.

Google displays title tags in search results pages (SERPs), which makes using keyword phrases in title tags even more important.

Google rewrote title tags for years if its algorithms identified descriptive text more than that provided by the publisher.

The Title Tag Rewrite feature in search results increased in summer 2021, causing angst in the publisher and search marketing communities. Many have reported drops in search traffic attributed to Google having rewritten their title tags.

One study reported that over 61% of search results had rewritten title tags.

Rejected changes to title tag guidelines

On October 8, 2021, Google released unique guidance on controlling title tags, titled, Control your title links in search results (Archive.org preview of the original tips here).

Skipped changes to updated title tag instructions clarify what they meant when using the word “title.”

Word “title“is ambiguous because it can mean either the title at the top of the web page or a reference to the HTML title element (H1, H2, H3).

It turns out that the original version of the guide used the word “title“to mean both the title at the top of the web page and as a reference to the HTML title element (H1, H2, H3, etc.).

While the title at the top of the page is usually a header element, the new version of the guide is more specific, as shown below.

Here is the original version:

“Clearly indicate which title is the main title of the page. »

Here is the updated version of the guidelines:

“Clearly indicate which text is the main title of the page. »

Here is a section of the following sentence from the original version:

“…and it can be confusing if multiple titles have the same visual weight and importance.

The newly clarified version:

“…and it can be confusing if multiple titles have the same visual weight and importance.

The original version of the updated third sentence:

“Consider making sure your main title is distinctive from other text on a page and stands out as the most important on the page (e.g. using a larger font, placing the title in the first visible element < h1> on the page, etc). »

The updated version of the same sentence:

“Consider making sure your main title is distinctive from other text on a page and will stand out as the most important on the page (e.g. using a larger font, placing title text in the first visible element

of the page, etc.). »

As you can see, the clarification makes a big difference in making the intent of the guide easier to understand.

The final change is to the part that describes what Google uses to determine the wording of a title link displayed in search results.

Here is the original:

“Main visual title or title displayed on a page”

The updated version:

“Primary visual title displayed on the page”

Google title tag instructions have been clarified but not updated

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the guide itself has not changed. What has changed is that the document is now less ambiguous and much more understandable.

Read the recently updated title tag guidelines here:

Control your title links in search results


Featured Image: Eugene Partyzan/Shutterstock

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