Unhappy google is changing title tags

Posted on July 13, 2012


If you have been in the organic search industry, you know that the first and foremost thing you need to monitor is how well your company or blog or product is ranking for your prime keywords. The moment you log in to your computer or iPhone or iPad you want to jump to google and check out the performance of your title tags.

Oh yes, those title tags makes all the difference in the searcher’s eyes and especially google’s. With the recent Panda and Penguin updates, you need to keep a check on google’s checklist. One of the most frequent issues is google changing title tags. So I ran a test with a couple of keywords. I searched on “mobile enterprise” and here’s what I found:

One of the results that struck me:

Mobile Enterprise Ecosystem – Sybase

Sybase is a leader in mobility leadership. This leadership includes being able to use partnerships to deliver information securely to devices which span over

When I clicked on the actual webpage I see that their actual title tag is:
Sybase Inc>

It is 108 characters(including spaces).  Too long for Google. The required usage is (normally 64-70 – depending on your own word breaks). So Google modified it to just the search phrase (that was present in the title tag as well). And notice that this keyword was also used as header repeatedly on the webpage. Google takes into account every bit of your keyword placement.

Next I ran a search for “Corporate security solutions”

I analyzed the following searches:

1-Corporate+Security+Solutions – Acronyms – The Free Dictionary
Acronym, Definition. CSS, Cascading Style Sheet. CSS, Counter-Strike: Source (gaming). CSS, Counter-Strike:Source. CSS, Catholic Social Services (various

When I visited the page, the actual title tag is:
<Corporate Security Solutions – What does CSS stand for? Acronyms and abbreviations by the Free Online Dictionary>

Again, the character length here is 112 characters; google jumps on again to modify.

2-Corporate Security Solutions, Inc. • Security Controls

Knowledge of your current situation is critical to securing your operation going forward, whether in terms of day-to-day security issues or in the event of less

When I visited the page, the actual title tag is:
<Security Controls – Eye For Security | Corporate Security Solutions>

The character length was well within limit, so why did Google change this? Google not only shortened the title tag length but moved the search term in the beginning of the title tag which was actually in the end in the title tag.  This means that besides the length google is looking deliver relevancy to the searcher.

3-Corporate Security Solutions – Better Business Bureau

BBB’s Business Review for Corporate Security Solutions, Business Reviews and Ratings for Corporate Security Solutions in Grand Rapids, MI.

When I visited the page, the actual title tag is:
<Corporate Security Solutions Business Review in Grand Rapids, MI – Western Michigan BBB>
Is the character usage above 70? Yes!

4-Corporate Security Paper – SCRIP-SAFE
Scrip-Safe International – Secure Document Solutions In addition to the COPY/VOID warning, a unique corporate fingerprint adds the name of the company on

When I visited the page, the actual title tag is:
<Scrip-Safe International – Secure Document Solutions > Products > Corporate Security Paper>

Is it long? Yes, 90! What did Google do? It moved the keyword that I was searching for in the front since it was located in the end of the title tag and then got rid of the rest except for the brand name.

I get this because it is my job- To understand what google is doing with my keywords 24/7! And this has become a raging topic in the SEO community. After the Penguin and Panda updates, the organic search experts are on a back foot and every change google makes is looked at closely. I decided to speak to another industry professional on this topic.

“Google is making several changes to title tags. The legacy dilemma has been when you keyword stuff your title, Google may display your DMOZ.org title or use the “main” anchor text it has for your root domain (which is typically your brand name),” enlightened Steve Wiideman, Creative Search Strategist based in California. He adds, “Off the root, on sub-pages, Google has used title attributes and H1’s in some cases, again when it has determined that the title is not relevant to the content or stuffed with search terms.”  I agree with Wiiderman and Matt Cutts in one of has videos has explained the relevance of DMOZ on SEO.

Wiiderman also referred to SEOmofo who published an experiment he performed representing how Google has replaced the 70 character limitation with pixels. In it, he shows how a title with primarily wide characters displayed only 54 characters, where his title with thin characters was able to get 107 characters into the search engine results pages. This true as I have witnessed that my product page title tags have been changed even though they were within limit. And the only reason I could pick was Google viewing it as stuffing it with repeated keywords. I changed that and I saw the difference immediately.

“Categories and sub-pages continue to be great content opportunities with keyword focuses, where the homepage keyword theme is being forced to evolve into just your brand name. Remember PR (Page Rank) is shared via links, so your homepage will distribute its voting power through your intra-linking as it always has, provided your intra-linking isn’t spammy and packed with title attributes that are against Google,” concludes Wiiderman.

This is our take on what Matt Cutt’s google team is up to. What are your views?