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Are your titles asking to be rewritten?

Google has provided some examples of when it’s more likely to rewrite the title it displays in its results from the one we’ve provided. They’re not surprising, but you might spot something that sounds familiar from your own site.

  • Half-empty <title> elements: When part of the title text is missing (for example,  | Site Name), Google Search looks at information in header elements or other large and prominent text on the page to produce a title link such as Product Name | Site Name
  • Obsolete <title> elements: When the same page is used year-after-year for recurring information, but the <title> element didn’t get updated to reflect the latest date. For example: 2020 admissions criteria – University of Awesome – in this example, the page has a large, visible headline that says “2021 admissions criteria”, and the <title> element wasn’t updated to the current date. Google Search may detect this inconsistency and uses the right date from the headline in the title link.
  • Inaccurate <title> elements: When the <title> elements don’t accurately reflect what the page is about. For example, the page could have dynamic content but the following <title> element: Giant stuffed animals, teddy bears, polar bears – here, Google Search tries to determine if the <title> element isn’t accurately showing what a page is about and it might modify the title link to better help users if it determines that the page title doesn’t reflect the page content.
  • Micro-boilerplate text in <title> elements: When there are repeated boilerplate text in <title> elements for a subset of pages within a site, for example, a television website with multiple pages that share the same <title> element that omits the season numbers, and it’s not clear which page is for what season. Google Search can detect the season number used in large, prominent headline text and insert the season number in the title link.

Google also says that when there’s more than one large, prominent headline, and it isn’t clear which text is the main headline for the page, it may use the first headline as the text for the title link. Consider ensuring that your main headline is distinctive from other text on a page and stands out as being the most prominent on the page (for example, using a larger font, putting the headline in the first visible <h1> element on the page, etc).