Google Title Tag Changes: What You Need to Know

While there’s no guaranteed method to prevent Google from changing your title tags, following these best practices can reduce the likelihood of it happening. Remember, Google’s goal is to provide the best user experience possible, so creating title tags that accurately and succinctly describe your content will always be beneficial.

Google Title Tag Changes: What You Need to Know - Sachs Marketing Group

If you spend a lot of time tracking your web pages and search result rankings, you’re probably familiar with the ins and outs of search engine optimization. It’s complicated, to say the least – mostly because the rules of the game are changing constantly, and often, they’ll change without anyone even noticing for the first few hours.

Google, which constitutes the majority of search traffic on the internet (by far) makes thousands of changes to its search algorithm every year. And it isn’t like every single change log is documented for the world to see.

That being said, whenever Google makes a pretty big change, you can expect to see some kind of announcement, and at least a little bit of an explanation. One of those changes hit us just late last month, with Google’s new page title update. Google announced that they’ve gone from using about 80 percent of the title elements provided by you in your title tags, to 87 percent. The update is one piece of a continuing experiment on Google’s part to optimize title tags.

It might seem like a minor change – and it is – but it allows us to go deeper into why Google is making changes to the way you’re tagging your titles, and what that should mean for you and your website’s SEO.

What is Google’s Page Title Update?

First, a little explanation and backstory. Title tags, like meta descriptions, are important pieces of information for both search engine users, and the search engines themselves.

They’re what your users will typically see first when catching a glimpse of your site on Google’s search results page, and they’re really important for both getting ranked, and getting traffic.

Not only will better title tags help you catch more traffic, but by refining and improving your title tags, you can drastically improve the quality of your traffic, generate more leads, and help people find the kind of content they’re really looking for.

That’s what Google is after, as well – and it is why Google has a long history of altering title tags, or at least, not really using yours (Google does the same thing with meta descriptions – sometimes, it will just pick a phrase from your content that it feels better represents your page than the description you provided).

Back in 2014, a study of 111,000 search results found that 36 percent of results had their titles partially changed (minor changes, such as adding the company name or name of the city into the title), and over 25 percent had their titles completely changed (entirely different words or word orders compared to the specified title tags).

About the update: Not only has Google revealed why they’re changing title tags, but they revealed to what degree (on average) title tags are being changed, as well (a change from 80 percent to 87 percent). They also released guidance on what makes a great title, and how to improve your titles for clarity and better search results.

Furthermore, Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller clarified that the changes Google makes to title tags do not affect ranking and are only meant to help convey better clarity and provide more accurate search results to users.

It’s important to note that not affecting ranking does not mean that your changed titles aren’t affecting click-through rates for pages and ads, because users are ultimately seeing a different title from what you may have intended.

Why Has Google Been Changing Title Tags?

To provide better context for why Google’s algorithm might sometimes partially or wholly change a page’s title tags, it’s important to understand Google’s main complaints with bad title tags. According to the company, the issues the algorithm looks for and tries to address the most are:

  • Half-empty titles: “ | Site Name” would be detected by the system and changed into “Product Name | Site Name” if the page in question was a product page, for example.
  • Obsolete titles: “2020 admissions criteria – University of Awesome” is changed into “2021 admissions criteria – University of Awesome” if the content was updated for the new year, yet the title tags weren’t.
  • Inaccurate titles: “Giant stuffed animals, teddy bears, polar bears – Site Name” may be made more accurate in cases where the content doesn’t reflect all the elements of the title, instead becoming “Stuffed animals – Site Name”.
  • Micro-boilerplate titles: If “My so-called amazing TV show,” is repeated for multiple different pages per season, then the system may change each page’s title to something along the lines of “Season 1 – My so-called amazing TV show”, “Season 2 – My so-called amazing TV show”, “Season 3 – My so-called amazing TV show”, and so on.
  • And a lot more.

Google will make very minor changes to title tags that, generally, reflect the content on the page and provide the kind of information you expect to see in a title – such as the name of the company or blog, or the location if it’s relevant to the content being posted.

Again, these changes do not affect the way your pages rank. But title tags themselves do affect ranking. This means that your own title tags are still important! Even if Google will change them for you, they won’t change the way your original title tags affect your search result rankings.

How Google’s Title Tag Change Affects You

While ranking is still entirely up to you, Google’s changes can affect click-through rate as users will be seeing a different title than you might have intended for them to see, under certain circumstances.

This is something a lot of marketers and SEO experts are skeptical on. There is no data to really prove that Google’s changes are purely positive – and it’s something Google tacitly admits.

This is a system that is still being developed after all, as proven by the fact that they’ve gone from changing affected titles by 20 percent, to changing them by just 13 percent.

If you want to avoid having your title tags altered by Google, take some time to review what they’ve previously written on good title tags, and be sure to take the time to update your title tags, especially after making major changes to a page, or for pages with dynamic content.

How to Write Meta Titles that Google Won’t Alter

IT can be frustrating to discover the meta titles you’ve created for your page have been altered by Google to display differently in the search results.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to write a meta title tag that will ensure its optimized for your target keyword and safe from being altered.

  • Relevancy: Make sure your meta title aligns with the content on the page. Google’s algorithms are sophisticated enough to determine whether your title tag accurately reflects your content, and if it doesn’t, it may change it.
  • Length: Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. If your title exceeds this limit, it may be shortened and replaced with an ellipsis (“…”). This may trigger Google to replace your title with what it considers a more accurate representation.
  • Keyword Placement: Try to place your most important keywords towards the beginning of your title. This ensures they’re seen by both Google and users, even if the rest of the title gets cut off.
  • Branding: Google now displays the favicon and site name above each result, so it may not be as necessary to include your site name at the tail end of your title. This is great because you no longer need to struggle to fit both your title and brand within the character limits of title tags.

While there’s no guaranteed method to prevent Google from changing your title tags, following these best practices can reduce the likelihood of it happening. Remember, Google’s goal is to provide the best user experience possible, so creating title tags that accurately and succinctly describe your content will always be beneficial.

Need Help with Your Title Tags?

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Sachs Marketing Group is a full-service digital marketing agency with a proven track record in SEO. Our skilled SEO team use cutting-edge strategies and industry best practices to help your business rank higher in search results, capturing the attention of potential customers and driving organic traffic to your site.

Imagine your business appearing on the first page of Google, attracting high-quality leads, and converting them into loyal customers. With Sachs Marketing Group, this can be your reality. We’ve helped countless businesses enhance their online visibility, improve customer engagement, and boost revenue through effective SEO.

Don’t let your competitors outshine you in search results. Contact Sachs Marketing Group today and let’s discuss how we can tailor an SEO strategy that will catapult your business to new heights of success. Your journey towards top Google rankings starts here.

Title Tag FAQs

We work with a lot of business owners who wonder why their website page titles aren’t displaying as intended. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Google changing title tags:

Why is Google changing title tags?

Google is changing title tags in an effort to better serve users. The goal is to provide more descriptive and relevant titles in search results that accurately reflect page content. This change aims to help users quickly understand what a page is about and decide whether it’s worth their click, improving the overall user experience.

Why is Google not using my title tag?

Google might not use your title tag if its algorithms determine that another piece of text on your page, or in the anchor text pointing to your page, is more representative of the page content. This usually happens when the original title tag is overly generic, stuffed with keywords, or is not descriptive of the page content.

How do I fix Google title tag rewrites?

You can reduce the likelihood of Google rewriting your title tags by making them highly relevant, concise, and accurate representations of your page content. Ensure they are unique to each page, include important keywords naturally, and appeal to the user. Creating well-structured, meaningful titles that closely align with the page content will discourage Google from altering them.

What does Google do if your title is too long?

If your title tag is excessively long, Google may choose to shorten it or replace it entirely in the search results. They do this to ensure the title remains readable and useful to users. Google usually truncates titles after approximately 60 characters, replacing the remainder with an ellipsis (…), or it may rewrite the title based on your page content or the search query.

How often does Google rewrite meta titles?

As of my last training data in September 2021, Google hasn’t publicly shared specific statistics on how often they rewrite meta titles. However, it’s known that the frequency can depend on several factors, including the relevance and quality of the original title tag, its length, and whether it accurately reflects the page content. Observations suggest that poorly structured or keyword-stuffed title tags are more likely to be rewritten.


Google’s practice of altering title tags in search results underscores the importance of crafting concise, relevant, and appealing titles for every page on your website.

A well-structured title tag that accurately reflects page content can enhance user experience and increase click-through rates, while also reducing the chances of Google rewriting it. Remember to avoid overly long, generic, or keyword-stuffed titles. Instead, aim for a unique, descriptive, and engaging title that naturally incorporates your target keywords.

In this era of ever-evolving algorithms, staying informed and adaptable is key to maintaining a robust and successful online presence.

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SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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