Last month, Google officially announced one of the biggest SEO changes for website owners and content creators.
Google’s announcement highlights changes to how an SEO title tag is generated when users enter new searches on Google.
This change has implications for SEO optimization and the creation of webpage titles.
In this post, we’ll take a look at SEO title tags and how the recent update (as of August 2021) may influence future site updates and search results.
What is an SEO Title Tag?
An SEO title tag appears for each search result in a new query.
This text is an element of HTML that describes the information a user can access by clicking the link. Although the title tag is a brief preview, the purpose is to help users choose which search result is most relevant for their needs.
An SEO title tag is also referred to as a meta title tag. The HTML appears in the head of a specific webpage, and it is located between title tags, like in the following example:
How Does Google Rewrite SEO Title Tags?
There are many reasons why Google does this (seemingly without explanation).
- Search engine results pages (SERPs) only have room for a certain amount of text.
- Google may truncate a page title to leave space for a brand’s name.
- Google may reformat the tag if it is stuffed with keywords in a way that makes it illegible or simply unhelpful.
Although Google has made title tag changes before this announcement, the process continues to evolve with new updates to Google’s title tag system.
SERPs and Browser Tabs
So far, we know that SEO title tag optimization matters for search engine results pages. This information is also significant for browser tabs.
When a searcher opens a link in a new tab, the title tag information is visible on the tab. Since most users rely on this text to navigate between pages, it’s important that it accurately represents the content on a page.
Recent Changes for SEO Title Tags (2021 Update)
In Google’s most recent page title update, the big news for creators is that the new SEO title tag process will be dynamic in nature.
This means that when a site owner makes changes to the HTML of a page, Google will react to those changes to create an accurate title tag.
One of the most significant adjustments is that Google is no longer using search queries as the sole basis for title creation. Instead, headers within the page are more important than ever.
When it comes to SEO title tag optimization, H1s and H2s are now extremely relevant.
Clarification from Google on Title Tag Updates
SEO experts have many questions when an announcement of this nature comes along. Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search at Google, weighed in with the following clarification.
“In particular, we are making use of text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page. We consider the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within <H1> tags, within other header tags, or which is made large and prominent through the use of style treatments.”
Google’s SEO title tag update is designed to produce readable and accessible titles for web pages in search. In some cases, Google adds or changes those site names when it deems that the change is helpful.
Why Did Google Make This SEO Title Tag Change?
Google has always placed a high value on title tags, particularly since these tags are a user’s first impression of results in a search query.
Revamping HTML tags isn’t new, but Google’s SEO title tag process has continued to adapt over the years.
In light of the recent updates, Google is collecting feedback and making adjustments based on user experience.
Google even has a dedicated feedback forum for titles shown in search results.
Best Advice for Site Owners
In light of the Google title page update, what’s the best next step for site owners? The answer is simple–continue to create great HTML title tags. Google is not getting rid of HTML or title tag information that creators publish through their site or content management system (CMS).
Focus on relevant headers throughout the page as a way to further optimize the text that Google leverages when creating SEO title tags for search results.
Is the Page Title Update Required?
Google’s SEO page title update is automatic and mandatory for all site creators. There is no way to opt-out of having page titles dynamically updated within the Google system.
Google continues to welcome feedback on this issue, particularly for SEOs who desire more control and oversight into title tag text.
Examples of Google Search Queries and Titles
To confirm this SEO update, we performed a basic Google search using the query “cars in San Diego.” After selecting a few top-ranking titles and opening the websites in new tabs, it’s clear that none of the titles have been modified by Google (as of now).
The question comes down to whether this is a big deal in the world of SEO. It appears that marketing professionals should stick to the same best practices that have always been in place. This means creating excellent and highly searchable titles and headings for every new web page and piece of content produced.
Importance of Google’s Title Tag Announcement
In light of the recent Google update, a few truths are clear for site owners and for individuals who specialize in SEO.
First, Google continues to look more closely at on-page elements to determine search result relevance. As important as title tags may be, the actual content on a web page is foundational. A strong and optimized title tag will not negate a web page that offers very little use to Google search users.
Additionally, title tags that are overly stuffed with keywords may actually defeat the point.
Google looks down upon search results that attempt to rig the system with an excessive amount of keywords, purely designed for algorithms, rather than user intent.
Conclusion and Takeaways
In light of Google’s SEO title tag update, the best recommendation is to continue using industry best practices when creating title tags.
Utilize keyword-focused headings (especially H1/H2), and spread keywords out on the content page.
These elements all contribute to page rankings and search results, and they are still crucial for SEO optimization and success.
As always, Ignite Visibility will continue to monitor further Google announcements to provide the best advice and insight for marketers looking to improve their SEO and search rankings.