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Google automatically replaces the page title. What can I do?

In cases where Google decides that the existing Title is either “written too badly” or “unfitting” compared to the content of the page and/or the users specific search request, they will not show this title in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) but replace it with an individual text paragraph of Google’s choosing.

Incidentally, the same thing can happen with the Meta-Description, as you can read here in our Ask-SISTRIX knowledgebase:

Why does Google change the content of my title tags?

If Google changes the text or text paragraph in the title-element, it should have a positive impact on the general Click-Though-Rate of the website. Even if the page title is optimised, Google may decide to change it for a number of reasons.

Anytime that Google believes that changing the title can increase the relevancy of the search results or the user satisfaction they may algorithmically changes single words or even whole page titles. Doing so, Google will always take the search intention of the user as well as the actual keyword the user is searching for into consideration.

Example for a page title replaced by Google

If you search for the keyword [bridge builder 2], a simulation videogame, you are either posing a transactional or informational search request to Google. Transactional stands for the clear intent to buy something, while an informational search seeks knowledge or research.

In the fourth organic ranking position you currently find the following result:

Screenshot of the fourth organic search result for [bridge builder 2] in the 20th week of 2014

Screenshot of the fourth organic search result for [bridge builder 2] in the 20th week of 2014

In this case, Google shows a changed page title. The title-element in the source code is:

<title>Bridge Builder 2 im Test. Brückenbau-Simulator mit Suchtfaktor! Brückenbau-Simulator.de</title>

In this case the page title of the search result has been changed by Google – if you look at the HTML source-code of the page you can see the following:

Screenshot of the original title element changed by Google

Screenshot of the original title element changed by Google

This title is much longer. In this case, Google has decided that, when searching for [bridge builder 2], neither the information “test” nor the promotional call-to-action within the tile are relevant for the user. Instead they moved the users search phrase to the beginning of the title, followed by a sentence which was taken from one of the headlines on the page.

Note on the Video-Thumbnail: The video preview picture in the screenshot is not responsible for the change in page title by Google. This so called Video-Rich-Snippet can easily be achieved on your own page by using schema.org and marking video-elements on your page.

How can i alter this behaviour by Google, so my page title will not be changed?

The most correct answer would be „You cannot“, as it always depends on the actual search request. But remember:

  • do not write a generic or very general page title
  • focus on the content of the page and think about the search intention of the user
  • try to answer the user’s question from his search query as best as possible within the title already

We have algorithms designed to present the best possible result titles. This change will show a more succinct title for results where the current title is so long that it gets truncated. We’ll only do this when the new, shorter title is just as accurate as the old one.– Google Webmaster Help

 

In some cases Google will only change the page title in such a way that the domain- or brandname shows up in the title of the search result.


Tool for optimizing the meta-description

SISTRIX SERP Snippet-Generator

SERP Snippet-Generator

Optimise the title and the meta-description of your page to generate as many clicks for your search result as possible. The SERP Snippet-Generator gives you a preview of how other users see your page in the search results.


Video explanation by Matt Cutts / Google on the topic

How does Google choose titles for search results?

What criteria does Google use to change the title it shows in the SERPs depending on the query? Does schema influence that? Maybe headings (h1, h2..) have more weight?

Additional information on this topic by Google

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