This week, a select number of title tags in search engine result pages (SERPs) seem to have changed, and they are now showing content from the webpage instead.
What is a meta title?
The meta title is the text that you would normally see on Google as the title of a page, and it is also the text shown in the tab of your browser, as highlighted below:
A recent tweet shows some title tags that have been changed to display other content from the webpage:
This is interesting… I think someone posted about this earlier today:
For this article's title in the SERP, Google is not only *not* displaying the <title> tag, it's also not displaying the <h1>.
Instead, it's displaying the anchor text from an internal link to the article. pic.twitter.com/CmQS4Lvgf9
— Lily Ray 😏 (@lilyraynyc) August 17, 2021
In the past, Google has also rewritten meta descriptions by finding relevant content in the webpage and using that, instead of using the meta description set on the website. Therefore, it seems that Google is following the same method to set meta titles, so that they are relevant to the keyword being searched.
Brodie Clark, who writes for Search Engine Journal, said that:
“From what I can see, there is no “one factor” involved with this change, with an algorithmic approach designed to create better titles in Google’s search results as a whole. Whether that be taking the new title from a header tag or effectively pulling it out of thin air.”
This shows that Google may even create its own meta title for a website, and the webpage’s content may not be used.
What does this mean for search engine optimisation (SEO)?
Due to the small number of meta titles being rewritten by Google at present, it’s hard to tell if this method is going to be rolled out across the whole of Google SERPs. However, in the past, Google has completed some A/B testing and has changed SERPs back to how they were previously after a while, so it may not continue to rewrite meta titles at all.
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