Any of you who take a keen interest in all things SEO will have noticed recently that there has been a controversial update around the way Google handles title tags.
A well-optimised title tag has previously been a way to tell Google what your website, and specific pages, should be ranking for. Say you are a Digital Marketing Agency targeting London, an optimised title tag might be ‘London based Digital Marketing Agency’ plus your business name. It will also be the heading of your website on a search result page, as shown below.
This has been a well known practice in the SEO world for many years and people will often try and push the boundaries, or sometimes completely run through them, in order to help their pages rank well.
Websites could either code the title tags into their site or use third-party plugins like Yoast. Google could choose to ignore these but more often than not it would display the user-defined title tags.
What seemed to happen around the 17th August was Googles algorithms deciding to take a much more liberal approach to when to ignore and when to use user-defined title tags. It seemed to become almost random as to where Google was pulling in title tags from, some sites were showing H1s, some random snippets of text from within an article and some just seemed to be completely random and have been completely put together by the algorithm.
Whilst initially frustrating for many SEOs and site owners, after lots of industry experts and leading websites put their findings on the update together, it does appear that the update does bring improvements to title tags in the majority of examples.
Whilst we would always recommend working with SEO experts to improve your SEO performance, this will help smaller sites and sites that are currently not running any specific SEO.