Google Re-writing Page Titles

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Page titles – aka Title Tags are being re-written in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) of Google. SEO Round table believe this is due to the H1 tag being pulled and using this as the title tag.

Doing some tests this morning I can see different variables being pulled to re-write the title tag based on the users search and the page that is being displayed.

Using the search query ‘White label seo sydney’ a few of the page titles within the SERP look different to what the page title is.

white label seo sydney SERP query

I noticed for this query my result in position #2 was showing differently to how I would write my Page Title. Now I think its good to point out here that Page Titles are Page Titles, not Meta Titles – they are not meta tags like the meta description tag.

Here is the SERP for my website.

white label seo sydney result

The thing that caught my eye immediately was the hyphen between the page title and the brand reference. As a few of you would know – I am strong Pipe advocate. They use less pixels and I think they just look nicer. Its interesting that Google has decided to add a hyphen in rather than a pipe for the separator.

After hearing about the chatter over the weekend of the re-writing of the tags I decided to check out my own page structure and see where this page title was being pulled from.

Lets start with what I have declared my page title to be.

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The key things to note with this:

  1. White Label SEO is the page title
  2. No reference to services or Reseller
  3. Pipe in the page title (not meta title)

Google has seemingly added ‘Reseller Services’ to the end of my Title – added a Hyphen and used my brand at the end of the title.

I decided to try find my h1 and see if Google is pulling that from the page, to my surprise I havent declared a h1 on this page. It was being run through the theme that it would write the h1 automatically but it has since changed, potentially due to an update of the theme.

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I then had a look to try find the exact text combination on the website and see where Google is pulling this title from.

There is one exact match for the phrase on my page

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The interesting thing about why google has chosen this h2 – is that it’s not the first h2, its not the most prominent. It’s a h2 which is number 6 on the page of h2′ tags.

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The other consideration is that this h2 tag is the beginning of the main content block of the website where FAQ and keyword rich content has been added after my summary of the goods and services that are provided via Technical Content Links for white label seo .

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Another element I considered to look at is the URL slug – – Its the exact keyword match and has been seemingly completely ignored in favour of a content block h2 tag.

So its clear Google wants to re-write my title tag and is trying to choose something it believes is more relevant to the search query – so is Google doing this for all results in SERP?

Looking at the other positions and competitors Google is either re-writing them or not.

Position #1

The title has been flipped and the pipe has been removed with a brand insertion at the end of the title. The H1 is simply ‘White label seo’ like the URL but the page title is the ‘agency’ added. The number of times the keyword has been added across title, description and on page is 16 times for ‘White label seo agency’ and the 28 times for ‘white label seo’

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Position #3

There does not look to be any changes for Safari Digitals page title to the SERP.

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Other positions

Reviewing down the SERPs there are instances of Google rewriting page titles and Google choosing not to re-write the page titles. Move Ahead Medias title has been re-written here, whilst others have not. With SEO’s using Pipes instead of hyphens its starting to look like anything with a hyphen is a Google written tag.

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How to stop google re-writing page title?

At this point in time – without reviewing copious amounts of data i.e.:

  • Page title re-written yes/no
  • Page title keyword insertion
  • H1 tag
  • H1 keyword insertion
  • Meta description
  • Meta description keyword insertion
  • H2 Tag
  • H2 keyword insertion
  • Number of times title tag appears on page
  • Number of times re-written title tag appears on page
  • Is it being re-written dependant on query

It would be hard to gauge why some page titles are being re-written whilst other titles are not. It is clear though that onpage content is important and the execution of the page layout is important. The best advice would be to ensure that pages follow best practice of being structured correctly without bloating code and that h1,h2,h3 are defined as heading across the pages and not being used as styling elements. (Looks like ive got some coding work to do)

It has been a common theory that Page Titles and H1’s should not exactly match, but if we as SEO’s want google to force use our title tags potentially this is a path forward to ensure that what we believe our are best title tags are not re-written.

As a next step for myself I will be re-coding the website to include a h1 that I want on the page. I’ll check back and see if this causes a re-write in the serp.

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail join us at the SEO Community Australia facebook group .