Title Tag Rewrites: Why You Should Work With Google, Not Against It

Title tags are one of the first things users see when browsing search engine results. Although title tags may not have an immediate impact on ranking algorithms, they play a vital role in shaping users’ initial impression of your content, which can affect the click-through rate (CTR) and the number of pageviews your page gets, which can affect your site’s ranking in the long term.

In 2021, Google implemented a change in how it generates title tags for web pages, and many SEOs and site owners noticed that the title tags they had set for pages were being displayed differently in search engine results pages (SERPs).

This can be frustrating if you are attempting title tag testing or have spent time on keyword research to craft what you thought was the perfect title tag and meta description! But here we will explore why it might not be a bad thing and why you should work with Google, not against it.

What Are Title Tags?

Title tags are HTML elements used to define the title of a web page. They are displayed as the clickable headline in search engine results and appear as the title of the page in the browser’s title bar or tab. Title tags play a crucial role in both search engine optimisation (SEO) and user experience.

Google Makes Changes To Title Tags 

Increasingly, Google has been rewriting the title tags that were set by those working on the website so it displays something different in the SERPs than what is on the CMS. 

This could be changing a pipe to a hyphen, using the H1 tag instead of the text set as the title tag, or it could be a complete rewrite. 

For example, if you were a florist, you may have written the following title tag:

Flowers for Events | Wedding Flowers, Funeral Flowers, Birthday Flowers | Floristry.com

But, it might then appear in search results on Google as:

Flowers for Events – Floristry.com

flowers on a table

An example from a major brand, Vans, can be seen below:

We searched ‘Vans Womens Shoes’ and the title tag result on Google from the Vans website reads ‘Casual Shoes for Women’.

When you click on that result, it takes you to the ‘Women Shoes’ page, where we can see that the title tag set by Vans is actually ‘Women’s Shoes | Casual Shoes for Women | Vans UK’.

Google has altered the title tag in the search results to display it in a way that Google considers to better suit the search intent of users.

What Should I Do About Google Rewriting My Title Tags?

There are a few different ways to approach how to handle Google changing your title tags, including working with Google, not against it!

Keep Doing What You’re Doing

One approach is to stick with what you are doing. Just because Google isn’t displaying your title tag the way you have written it doesn’t mean that Google isn’t reading and understanding it.

The information you put in your title tag should give the page context, so Google understands how it fits into your site, while being enticing for users to click on it. If you believe you are doing that already, then there isn’t a reason you shouldn’t continue.

Learn From Google’s Changes

Perhaps the better approach is to pay attention to how Google is rewriting title tags and learn to accommodate the changes. See if you can spot any patterns in the way it changes your title tags. For example, is it always shortening them, removing a particular section or changing the order of your information?

Google’s focus is on showing information in a way that they think will get the most click-through to provide users with what they are looking for. They adapt search results to match the search intent they are seeing from users.

It can be beneficial to use any common changes Google is making to your title tags as a guideline for how Google would like you to display your title tags. Use it as a parameter to learn how to create and display title tags that work best for you.

For example, if you are writing your title tag like this:

Black Suit Trousers | Best Smart Trousers for Work, Weddings & Funerals | Trouser Warehouse

And Google is rewriting your title tag like this on SERPs:

Black Suit Trousers | Trouser Warehouse

We can learn from this that Google prefers a shorter title tag with less keyword stuffing that more concisely explains what the page is about.

As such, if we were to amend the title tag to find a happy medium between what was originally written and what Google wants, it may look something like:

Black Suit Trousers for Weddings & Work | Trouser Warehouse

Competitor Research

When looking at the SERPs for your keywords or pages, take a look at the title tags of your competitors. Pages that are ranking higher than you may have more clickable or ‘Google-friendly’ title tags, and you can use the structure of these title tags to adapt your own pages.

Maybe high-ranking results have things like ‘Free Delivery’, ‘3 Year Warranty’ or pricing information in the title tag. If there are opportunities for you to add in that type of information in your title tags, then it could be something worth trying, as a way of boosting click-through rate and providing Google with the format it is preferring.

Google’s Advice on Title Tags

Google have provided some guidance on what they consider best practice for writing title tags. They state that the main function of the title tag should be to tell the user and search engine what the topic of each particular page is.

In December 2020, Senior Search Analyst at Google, John Mueller, stated that title tags should be used to describe what the page is about using words a searcher would be using and avoiding keyword dumping.

“…if you can create a title that matches what the user is actually looking for, then it’s a little bit easier for them to actually click on a search result because they think “oh this really matches what I was looking for.” 

“Having keywords in the title tag is fine. I would just kind of write the title tag in a way that really describes in maybe one sentence what this page is actually about. To really make a clear title rather than to just have like keyword-1, keyword-2, keyword-3 in there.”

If you need help with getting the title tags right on your site, then get in touch with us at Ducard to discuss our SEO services and get you ranking on Google.