The latest studies into Google’s search engine results show that Google themselves rewrite more than 60% of page titles.
SEO specialists around the world know that page titles influence the click-through rate of search engine results, but a recent study by Zyppy.com has analysed more than 80,000 title tags from 2,370 websites and they discovered that Google goes ahead and rewrites such a large portion of page titles.
The search engine’s page title objective is to give users insight into what the context of the page is, and if they feel that the page title provided doesn’t get that point across clearly enough then they go ahead and change it up.
Now, as SEO specialists, we know that there are certain guidelines that Google gives you to ensure that page titles are written with a certain standard in mind. But when those standards have moving goalposts, and page titles start changing, that’s when things can get a little frustrating.
So, with that in mind, here are some updated factors that need to be considered when writing page titles if you don’t want Google to go about changing them.
Keep Page Titles At The Ideal Length
If you’re writing a page title that’s too short or too long, it’s a likely candidate for Google to swoop in and change it. The ideal page title length is between 50-60 characters, which will be long enough to provide context but not too long to be truncated and mess with the user experience.
In the results of Zyppy’s analysis, they saw that page titles that were either too long or too short were changed 95% of the time. And it would make sense for Google to change those because they affect the experience of users on their search engine.
If page titles were kept within the ideal length, they were only changed 39-42% of the time, which is not insignificant, but it’s far lower than the alternative.
Using Pipes As Title Separators
It makes sense when writing page titles to break them up using some kind of title separator, whether it’s a colon, pipe or dash. But Google doesn’t enjoy the pipe apparently, because the study showed that pipes were either replaced or removed 41% of the time, while dashes were less affected and only removed 19.7% of the time.
Parenthesis Or Brackets?
The correct answer is neither because if your page title had brackets it was probably going to get changed. 77.6% of page titles with brackets were changed, and a further 32.9% of page titles had words completely removed if they were within brackets.
Page titles containing parenthesis weren’t much better off, with those page titles being changed 61.9% of the time and words between the parenthesis being removed 19.7% of the time.
Other Factors To Remember
Google wants to keep users of their search engine happy, so providing them with a good user experience is always going to work out in your favour. So keep spammy, duplicate, over-optimised page titles to a minimum and your page titles should remain as safe as they can be.
There’s no fool-proof way to fully protect your page titles because Google has the final say and there is always a chance their algorithm will make changes to them.
But, if you match your page title to the H1 heading then the likelihood of your page title changing drops to 20.6%. Something to consider if you like your page titles and want Google to poke and prod as little as possible.
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