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Google SERPs and Your Title Tags

by: on | Prominent Placement

Not always seeing your title tags in Google SERPs? Last week there was a post on the Google Webmaster Central blog entitled Better page titles in search results where the blogger, Pierre Farr, explained how Google chooses the title tags to show in their search results. He says Google may choose to display an alternate title for your page using algorithms that generate alternative titles to make it easier for users to recognize relevant pages in the search results. As with most things related to Google’s search results, it all comes back to relevancy. Farr explains that about half the time Google shows an alternative title is because the alternative is generally more relevant to the query and can improve click-through-rate, which is a win-win for everyone. Other reasons Google shows alternative titles include no title tag, a non-descriptive title tag, repeated title tags or unnecessarily long title tags. To see your title tag in Google SERPs, your best bet is to write unique, descriptive titles that explain to the user what the page is about. Also, don’t use generic titles like “Home” or “Contact”. Google provides guidelines for writing title tags in the Webmaster Tools Help Center. To paraphrase, they recommend the following:

  • Make sure every page has a unique, specified title tag
  • Write descriptive and concise title tags
  • Brand your titles with your company name
  • Avoid keyword stuffing and repeated or boiler plate titles
In addition, you can refer to the HTML Suggestions feature in the Diagnostics section of Webmaster Tools where Google points out potential issues with your title tags and meta description tags. Additional insight on this topic can also be found in this post from SEO Roundtable – How Google Picks Your Title in Search Results.

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