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Google’s Titlepocalypse

There have been a whole load of updates to Google over the summer, but the one that has got most people talking has been what’s called the Titlepocalypse.

You’ll know that in the search results, Google has nearly always used the page title that we specify for our pages, but will show a description underneath that might not match up to what we’ve provided. That’s been fine – we don’t know what the search that generates the result has been, and if Google can relate the description to that search, maybe it’ll make the result more attractive.

However, it seems that Google now reckons that it can also work out a more helpful title for a page than the one specified by the site owner. It might, for example, pick up on the headline …or something else. In its announcement, it says:

“Last week, we introduced a new system of generating titles for web pages. Before this, titles might change based on the query issued. This generally will no longer happen with our new system. This is because we think our new system is producing titles that work better for documents overall, to describe what they are about, regardless of the particular query.”

It’s not great. Search Engine Journal says: “There are so many errors reported by the publishing and search community that it’s tempting to conclude that this particular algorithm update was not thoroughly tested.”

Monitoring the changes is difficult. I think I’ll start a manual tracking record of my most important pages. This is quite important, because it might explain changes in the traffic we get from Google, and without knowing if the title has been changed, we might waste time investigating other reasons.