Is Google Changing Meta Titles without Our Knowledge
A vital element of on-page SEO, meta titles play a significant role in the success of your website. They help boost your click-through rate or CTR by helping your audience and search engines understand what your web pages are all about. However, with Google changing meta titles without our knowledge or consent, is there still a point in creating custom page titles to get better SEO results?
Is Google Rigging the SEO Game?
Just recently, Zyppy.com analysed over 80,000 page titles of 2,370 sites to identify how many of them are being used in search results. However, instead of finding the information they needed, they made a shocking discovery. Data showed that Google rewrote 61.6% of meta titles. Furthermore, the modifications on these titles ranged from a single word to the entire title tag.
The study also revealed that if your page titles meet certain criteria, there’s a significant chance that Google’s algorithm would rewrite them. This can be frustrating for site owners and SEO specialists like us here at Springhill Marketing. We spend a significant amount of time and effort writing the best title tags only for the search giant to modify them without our permission.
How to Minimise the Risk of Google Rewriting Your Page Titles
Google Search Advocate John Mueller confirmed that the search giant has yet to create a mechanism to prevent its algorithms from automatically modifying meta titles and descriptions. However, the good news is there are simple ways to reduce the likelihood of Google changing meta titles.
1. Ensure that the title length is 50-60 characters
Google has always been known to modify page titles that are either too long or too short, and the Zyppy.com study only confirms it. Data revealed that of the 2370 websites analysed, the search giant rewrote 99.9% of page titles with more than 70 characters and 96.6% of titles with one to five characters. In comparison, only 39% to 42% of page titles that are 51 to 60 characters long were modified.
This means the sweet spot is between 50 and 60 characters, which make sense. Users won’t obtain the information they need if the title is too short. On the other hand, Google will truncate search results if the page title is too long, leading to a bad user experience.
2. Avoid using brackets or parentheses
While brackets and parentheses can make your meta titles more eye-catching, they could increase the risk of the search giant rewriting your page titles. The study showed that Google changed 77.6% of page titles with brackets and removed the words between the brackets in 32.9% of them. Also, it rewrote 61.9% of page titles with a parenthesis.
Therefore, it would be wise to remove brackets, parentheses, and other special characters from your page titles to ensure they remain as you have written them.
3. Use dashes to separate titles
When it comes to title separators, it seems that Google has a clear preference. Data from the study revealed that the search giant modified 41% of page titles that used a pipe (|) to break up words. In many instances, it even replaced the pipe with a dash (–). In comparison, Google changed 19.7% of the titles with dashes as separators.
4. Pay attention to your keyword frequency
As you may know, overstuffing keywords into your content is bad SEO practice. It can hurt user experience and it makes your content look spammy. Therefore, you should avoid inserting too many keywords into your meta titles. Otherwise, Google will rewrite them. The same thing goes for the unnecessary use of brand names.
It also helps to avoid using duplicate titles for multiple pages. Like what we have always been saying here at Springhill Marketing, ensure that each web page has unique meta tags to obtain the best results.
5. Try to match your H1 to your page title
The study revealed that matching your H1 tag, which is a vital search ranking factor, to your page title can reduce the risk of Google changing meta titles by 20.6%. This still works even if the tags have other risk factors, such as pipe separators.
While 20% may seem insignificant, following this practice can at least ensure that your page titles will remain as you intended them to be. Therefore, try to craft page titles similar to your H1 tags as much as possible.
Always Follow the Best Practices for Crafting Title Tags
While the news of Google modifying page titles without our knowledge is indeed disheartening, it doesn’t mean that you should stop creating unique and custom title tags for your website. Unique page titles help your web pages stand out on search result pages. They also help improve your conversion rates by providing users and search engines an idea of what your webpage is all about. Just be sure to follow the optimisation tips discussed above to reduce the likelihood of Google modifying your meta titles.
If you need help crafting unique and optimised title tags for your web pages, we at Springhill Marketing are happy to assist you. Our team of highly experienced and dedicated SEO experts can offer you the tailored solutions you require to boost your site’s performance. Please contact us today!
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