A recent study from Zyppy.com concluded that out of 81,000 title tags, Google rewrote 61.6% of title tags to some degree. This can be very frustrating for content writers who spend a lot of time and effort maximizing their content for SEO. But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. There are certain factors that will decrease your chances of the search engine rewriting your title tags, and we’re going to break them all down in this article.
Why Is Goggle Rewriting Your Title Tags?
One of the primary ways people determine what search result to click on is by finding the most relevant titles that match their search query. This is exactly why Google works hard to provide the best titles that accurately describe the contents of the page. It’s important that they deliver accurate results, and they don’t want some wonky title getting in the way of it.
It’s nothing new that Google’s been rewriting the page titles that display in search results. However, they’ve recently added more aggressive factors that deem a rewrite. In other words, if your title isn’t up to par, Google’s algorithms will change it. And that rewrite can be anywhere from a single word to a complete title tag rewrite.
Factors for Title Tag Rewrites
So can you prevent Google from making changes? While there are no guarantees, according to Zyppy the title tag scenarios listed below were the most common in a Google title rewrite. Keep these factors in mind so your title tags are more likely to display exactly the way you intended them to.
1. Too Long to Too Short Title Length
From the 81,000 titles reviewed, the most common reason for a Google rewrite was title length. Titles that are either extremely short or extremely long were rewritten over 95% of the time. The reason being is how titles are displayed on various devices.
Google limits titles to 650 pixels on desktop, and slightly more on mobile device search results. This means if you’re title tag doesn’t display correctly on certain devices it will get a Google rewrite. In fact, it’s not unusual to see your title tag displayed differently on mobile vs desktop.
Solution: Any title less than 20 characters had a 50% chance of a Google rewrite, and any title over 60 characters was rewritten 76% of the time. Aiming for title tags between 51-60 seems to be the sweet spot for Google.
2. Match the Title Tag to the H1
Google has stated they consider HTML elements, especially any H1 headings when crafting a title. Pages where the title and the H1 match typically see less rewriting. When the title is different than the H1, Google may choose to use the H1 instead. This is especially the case if Google thinks the title tag isn’t as relevant as the H1.
Solution: To reduce the chances of a Google rewrite, match your Title to your H1 across the board.
3. Title Separators
To break up titles, it’s a common practice to use separators. Common separators include: – |:<>
What you may not realize is that Google prefers certain separators over others and are more likely to replace certain ones. The separator that gets the least amount of rewrites, and thus seems to be Google’s favorite is the dash “-“. In fact, page titles that used the simple dash were only rewritten 19.7% of the time. A close second to the dash title separators was the pipe “|”.
Solution: Your best bet to avoid a rewrite is to use the dash as your title separator.
4. Avoid Brackets
Who would have thought that Google isn’t a fan of brackets? Along with separators, Google has a distinct preference for parenthesis instead of brackets. In fact, a whopping 77.6% of titles with brackets were rewritten. What’s worse, 32.9% of the time Google completely removed brackets from the title. By comparison, Google only removed parenthesis 19.7% of the time.
Solution: To keep it safe, favor using the parenthesis in your page title tags.
5. Use The Right Keywords
When writing your title tags, think of keywords that match user search queries. Google is far more likely to rewrite titles that they find irrelevant or vague. They want titles to match the contents of the page and accurately describe what the user is searching for.
The best way to ensure your title is relevant is by incorporating keywords that match how users will find your page in the search results. A great tool to use is Google Search Console Performance Report. This will help you find the right keywords for every URL.
Solution: To help avoid the rewrite, check the top keywords users search to find a specific page and make sure you include it in your title.
If you’re looking to optimize page title tags, get increased traffic to your website, or take advantage of other SEO tools, our team is here to help. Contact us to schedule a call.