Google Uses Original Title Tags For Ranking Purposes
Website SEO agencies should continue writing creative and relevant title tags despite Google’s latest Page Title update – and for good reason. Google’s John Mueller recently told website SEO companies that they will still use the original title tag for ranking purposes even when it is replaced with a rewritten title in the search results.
Mueller discussed the matter in the Google Search Central SEO hangout on 3 September 2021. A person asked him about the Page Title update, where Google rewrites web page titles using more relevant text found within the content. The person was concerned and wanted to know if Google will use the original title for ranking pages even if the search engine does not show it in the search results.
Mueller confirmed that Google does indeed use the original titles for ranking purposes. However, he also stated that SEO could evolve over time, and there could be certain changes in the future.
The new Page Title update is more dynamic and reacts to on-site changes, which means that Google’s title replacements are not yet set. If a site owner makes changes in their HTML title tags, the search engine will take the updated text into consideration and react accordingly. This just proves that Google’s algorithm system continues to learn.
Google’s Danny Sullivan also confirmed that the search engine company is making a lot of changes to its algorithms, and they plan on making more refinements. Moreover, Google is involving the SEO community to help them improve their algorithms. Mueller made a thread in the Search Console Help forums, asking website SEO agencies to share their experiences with the new update and how it affects their websites.
Mueller also asked SEOs to be as detailed as possible when posting a reply to the thread. One should include their page’s URL, the replacement title from Google, and their feedback or suggestions on that particular title. They may also upload screenshots if they want.
But for now, Google continues using the original title tags for ranking, which is why online businesses and site owners should never take the task of writing titles too lightly.
Mueller also said that they do not replace everything for a website, but the original titles are still a ranking factor. For instance, let’s say that the original title targets an important keyword, and Google makes a rewritten title that doesn’t have the keyword. Publishers can still rest easy knowing that the search engine will use the original title with the keyword for ranking the web page instead of the rewritten one.
Website SEO companies also usually ask whether they have to change their titles to the ones Google selects. Mueller addressed this misconception and said that he does not recommend site owners and publishers doing that.
Mueller admitted that the new title rewrites from Google are not superior by default. It also does not necessarily help improve rankings if people include it in their website’s code.
He also said that some Google algorithms might look at site information and change them, but at the end of the day, the publishers know what’s best for their website. They know their target audience and what they want. Therefore, Mueller says that SEOs should not blindly follow what Google’s algorithms are doing – even if the algorithms give great ideas.
Considering what original titles do for Google’s search algorithms behind the scenes, removing or changing them may hugely affect a website’s rankings.
On Twitter, Sullivan said that people should not make a lot of changes to their original titles. Moreover, they still need to focus on writing great titles because Google still uses them more than anything else. Google also announced to the community that about 80% of all web pages would retain their original title tag.
How Does Google Use Page Titles And Meta Descriptions?
One must understand how the search engine users respond to meta data because Google designs its search results based on search behaviour. Google can change the design and appearance of the search results several times a day based on the searchers’ query. Thanks to search behaviour, the search engine can determine the best information or web page to show its users.
These changes can vary, from changing the font size to the item colours (for instance, changing the green “Ad” box on Google Ads to black). The system may also change the size of the images, especially in the Featured Snippets, and many more.
As a result, SEOs should understand both their target customers’ search behaviour and how Google shows results for each search query. Therefore, online businesses and site owners should keep this in mind when optimising their title tags and meta descriptions.
Here are two important things to take into consideration when optimising title tags and meta descriptions:
- Optimise for the search engine results pages’ appearance: One should try searching the same query that their future customers would use and review how Google displays the results. If publishers write title tags or meta descriptions that do not match how Google displays results, their competitor sites will get more clicks; one should always review how the search engine shows search results before writing their titles.
- Optimise for search intent: Publishers should keep the user’s search intent in mind when writing title tags and meta descriptions. There are four categories of search intent: informational, commercial, transactional, and navigational.
- – Informational: Searches that aim to look for informative details about a product or service (ex., Canon 4000D review)
- – Commercial: Searches that look for the best prices (ex., budget-friendly holiday cottages)
- – Transactional: Searches with a goal of making a direct purchase (ex., book an oven cleaner)
- – Navigational: Searches that aim to go directly to a page that the user is looking for (ex., Instagram app)
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