April 29, 2014

How Does Google Choose Post Titles For Search Results?


How Does Google Choose Page Titles?
When Google crawls a page on your website and indexes it to show in search results, it usually picks up the meta title (or default title) of the page that you have set. But this isn't always the case, and Google can, and sometimes will, ignore your title, and write its own. Preposterous, yes? I wouldn't want my titles overridden by a bot! So when and why does Google do that? And how does it choose titles for search results?


Whenever Google tries to choose a title to show in search results, it's looking for a concise description of the page that's also relevant to the query. There are a few criteria that it looks at to narrow down to such a description.

  • Descriptions should be concise and to-the-point
  • It should be a good description of the page, and also the website as a whole
  • And of course, it should be relevant to the query
If your default HTML <title> tag fits these criteria, then often times it will be picked by Google Bot and shown in search results. That is, of course, the ideal case where the title fulfills all the three requirements. But it isn't a perfect world out there.

If your title doesn't match the criteria, i.e. it isn't concise, isn't a good description of the page or website, and/or isn't relevant to the query, then a user who types in something, but doesn't see something related to their query or doesn't have a good idea of what the page is going to be, is less likely to click on it.

In such cases, in order to enhance user experience, Google might dig in a little deeper into your site; it might use content on your page, it might look at links that point to your page so as to ascertain relevance, and might even incorporate some text from those links! Time to clean out those bad links huh?

Google says they might even use the Open Directory Project to help figure out what a good title might be. In each of these cases, the aim is to look for the best title that will help users assess whether that's what they're looking for.

So if you want to control the title that's being shown, you can't completely control it, but you can try to anticipate what is a user going to type, and then make sure your title reflects not only something about that query or the page that you're on, but also includes some kind of context, so that the users know what they're going to get when they click on it.




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