A recent search update of title tag update from Google was officially announced here: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2021/08/update-to-generating-page-titles
This update creates AI-generated title tags by Google itself for its search viewers. This new title by Google can be the same or different from the original title.
Google has been doing something similar to this with meta descriptions of website pages for a while now. With this update, Google is going to show its own title for your page or use any of the subtitles from your post.
If nothing is suitable in the eyes of Google, then it can generate its own title and showcase for search results.
As you can see, the Google search results now show that the Title Changed button. When you hover over this button, it will show you the original title.
How is the SEO community reacting to this?
Humans do not like change. But change is inevitable.
The SEO community has been making funny memes on this. And I understand why is it like that.
Apart from just creating the memes, many have complained that the new titles generated by Google are not right in some cases. Check out their support page here and see the comments yourself. https://support.google.com/webmasters/thread/122879386/your-feedback-on-titles-shown-in-search-results
These errors are happening from simple hyphens to complete brand name changes. For example, Wikipedia pages in some countries show extra “-“.
This can be a simple error that can be solved and understood by the users. But how can you fix the errors that are hurting brands?
In the above example, mysynchrony.com and synchronybank.com are both owned by the same company. But Google chose to show only mysynchrony.com in its results. This can hurt the bank users by confusing them with a different domain.
Maybe this will also be fixed soon by Google experts. I am positive about it. But how can they fix the CTR of websites that are losing traffic?
WordStream has seen a 21% drop in their traffic after this update. They have written a blog about this recently here: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2021/08/26/google-page-title-update
Should you be afraid of this update?
No, you don’t have to be afraid of this update. First, do not panic. This can be fixed.
It does not mean that this update makes your Titles no longer useful. It just means that if your page titles are not properly optimized then Google will do this for you.
We have written about using optimized and catchy titles in our blog post here: https://underwp.com/a-handy-seo-guide-for-beginners/
Everything in this post still holds true. Using good suitable titles will improve your CTR.
We practice what we preach. Our blog titles have not been affected so far. This is because of the proper usage of keywords and their related title.
Go read the post we said above and also this post which can help you make SEO friendly URL structure: https://underwp.com/how-to-create-seo-friendly-url-structure-in-wordpress/
Who is this update affecting?
As per Google, they have to implement this change in their search results because not every page has the same content as its title says. A lot of pages have the wrong title with a different blog post.
Many websites and their SEO specialists make the mistake of writing long titles. This means you should try to keep your post titles small and to the point.
In another case, Google has found that a lot of SEO beginners stuff keywords in the title. This is a big mistake. Do not do this. Insert your keyword in the title if it actually is required.
The most affected websites are those where the writer makes a clickbait title for the page. This means the title attracts the attention of the users but does not talk about the main keyword.
This is why we suggest always being concerned about the search intent of your visitors. If your content does not meet the search intent of the visitor, it results in a negative impression for your website in the eyes of Google bots.
What to do next?
Thankfully, the Google team is working hard to correct the errors a lot of companies and their websites are seeing. So we do not need to do anything. Google will update its Title generation bots to the best in the coming months.
If your page is not properly optimized with the right title, then Google can use any one of the other page content. It can use any of these features of your page:
- H1, H2, or H3 tags.
- Decorated text like bold, italic or underline text. (We also do this in all of our posts)
- Anchor text of links.
- Alt attributes of images.
So you need not worry about how Google will treat your website content that has already been published. You do not have to go to every page or post on your website and change its title now.
Google is trying its best to make your website page title more engaging if it is not already.
Just make sure that from here on the Title of your posts or pages is not misleading, short, and suits the content that is being written.
When you look at its negative side, yes it can decrease your website CTR until their team fixes it perfectly. This can take up some time. Remember the meta tags update. Google no longer accepts the meta tag you describe in your WordPress pages. It selects what fits right.
Similarly, it will take some time to train Google AI’s to generate the right title tags for your pages. So just give it some time and your CTR will improve gradually.
When you look at it positively, then you will find that Google is generating more engaging and catchy titles for you. Your job gets easier.
This does not mean that you should not optimize your page titles. In fact, you should be writing more meaningful and apt titles rather than just focusing on keywords.
This update is a lesson taught by Google itself to website owners and SEO workers that Title is an important part if you want to be on top of search engine rankings. Remember it and write the right titles.