Google Announces Update to Title Generation for SERPs

Although Google can generate a title, the time-tested method of having a good title tag still matters.
SIA Team
August 26, 2021

Did you come to this page via a search engine?

What made you want to click on this result?

Most likely, it was the title tag.

Title Tags Are, by Definition, HTML 

Just a short lesson: title tags are usually part of the code behind a web page. On your desktop, when you look at the tabs, the text you see are usually the title tags. 

Title Tags and Search Engine Resutls Pages (SERPs)

On search engine results pages, the title of each result you see in the organic listings are, yes, the title tag of that associated page.

At least, that’s what we think the case is…most of the time.

But, according to Google’s Danny Sullivan, in a blog post from August 24th, 2021, that’s not always the case. 

The idea of Google generating customized SERPs titles that vary from the original document is not entirely new, Google has been doing some form of this for over a decade. Up until now, the generated title tag was usually based on the original search query. 

What’s new, in particular, is that Google is displaying text that people would see when they arrive at that page (such as what may be in an H1 or other header text). 

My Advice: Create Great Title Tags

Actually, it’s not just my advice–it’s also Google’s. 

In the last section of the blog post, Danny Sullivan recommends that you focus on creating great title tags. In fact, over 80% of the time, Google will use content from the HTML title tag. 

How to Create Great Title Tags

Well, first of all, if you use something like WordPress, your title tag will usually be the title of your post.

Title tags should be no longer than 60 characters.

They should contain the keyword phrase your page is optimized for, but they shouldn’t be keyword-stuffed. Also, a title tag should grammatically read well. Don’t ruin the grammar just because you want to place a keyword in there.

Meta Descriptions Can Also Play a Small Role

On a search engine results page, usually, what’s secondary to the title (in terms of prominence) can be the meta description. While this isn’t always the case (as Google can pull any text to display beneath the title), it’s also good to have a strong meta description.

Here’s something I’ve done for years: I make sure my meta description is part of the opening text of the page itself. 

So many times, people just type a random meta description, but that’s not how I do it. 

I make sure my meta description is keyword-rich and inviting (since I know that may be displayed in the SERPs and…as we now know, even as part of the title), and not only is it my meta description, it’s the opening of my content. (It comes right after the title and/or H1.)

For example, if you were to look at the code for this page, you’d see that the meta description reads: Although Google can generate a title, the time-tested method of having a good title tag still matters.

And that very text is also the opening of this news item.

That’s a point to remember, because Google may use text that the visitor first sees when they land on the page, so as much as possible you want to make that text (both the title and the meta description) as inviting and keyword-rich as possible, while still making grammatical sense.

So, those are my tips for taking advantage of this small announcement from Google. 

Source: Google Search Central blog post