One of the primary ways people determine which search results might be relevant to their query is by reviewing the titles of listed web pages.
That’s why Google Search works hard to provide the best titles for documents in our results to connect searchers with the content that creators, publishers, businesses, and others have produced.
How titles are generated
Last week, Google introduced a new system of generating titles for web pages. Before this, titles might change based on the query issued. This generally will no longer happen with the new system.
The new system is producing titles that work better for documents overall, to describe what they are about, regardless of the particular query.
Also, while Google have gone beyond HTML text to create titles for over a decade, the new system is making even more use of such text.
In particular, the text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page. The main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within
<H1> tags or other header tags, and content that’s large and prominent through the use of style treatments.
Other text contained in the page might be considered, as might be text within links that point at pages.
Why more than HTML title tags are used
Why not just always use the HTML title tag? Google explained began going beyond the tag significantly back in 2012. HTML title tags don’t always describe a page well. In particular, title tags can sometimes be:
“Stuffed” with keywords, because creators mistakenly think adding a bunch of words will increase the chances that a page will rank better.
Lack title tags entirely or contain repetitive “boilerplate” language. For instance, home pages might simply be called “Home”. In other cases, all pages in a site might be called “Untitled” or simply have the name of the site.
Overall, this update is designed to produce more readable and accessible titles for pages. In some cases, Google may add site names where that is seen as helpful.
In other instances, when encountering an extremely long title, Google might select the most relevant portion rather than starting at the beginning and truncating more useful parts.
A focus on good HTML title tags remains valid
Focus on creating great HTML title tags. Of all the ways that Google generates titles, content from HTML title tags is still by far the most likely used, more than 80% of the time.
But don’t forget, as with any system (i.e. me!), Google search titles won’t be always perfect.