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Title Tags and Google SEO

Posted on 4.28.2014

Those responsible for search engine optimization (SEO) many years ago had total control over the title that was returned by Google and seen by users on its result pages. As you may well know, however, that's no longer the case. Google has long determined what snippet from a page would be used (if nothing better could be found) and it's made crafting the perfect page title just a little more complex.

A new video from Google Webmaster Help sheds light on why and when the search engine will ignore the existing suggested title tag and use a content/text snippet it determines should be shown on the results page in its place. Google's Matt Cutts explained that what the search engine really wants is for the title snippets to match the query of the searcher (in at least some way). To accomplish that, which is arguably better for the searcher and the website owner, the criteria Google uses when coming up with the new title tag are that 1) it is relatively short, 2) describes both the page and the site where the page is, and of course, 3) that it's relevant to the query.

If your current page title meets those criteria, more often than not it will appear on the search results the way you intended. If not, Google will use the formula (based on the content of the page), as well as anchor text links that may point to the page. Cutts even revealed that Google may even use the Open Directory Project in some instances should everything else fall through.

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