Last week, Google announced an update to the way it generates page titles on its search engine results pages (SERPs). While the change won’t significantly impact our SEO strategy or your SEO results in the short term, it is emblematic of Google’s ongoing prioritization of user-focused relevancy indicators over technical ones.
Years ago, the title of your web page that appeared in Google’s search results was almost guaranteed to be the ‘title tag’ specified in the page’s HTML. Since 2012, the search engine has considered other factors when providing a search result title; last week’s update doubles down on this strategy.
According to a Google Search Central blog from August 24, the new system will make more use of ‘text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page,’ including the ‘main visual title or headline shown on a page’; ‘content that’s large and prominent through the use of style treatments’; and perhaps other text on the page or text contained in links pointing to the page.
The stated goal, as always, is to improve user experiences. Google believes website owners can’t always be relied upon to produce descriptive title tags. Some are too long, some are too short, and many are overstuffed with keywords in accordance with outdated thoughts on SEO strategy.
The HTML title tag will still be used to produce more than 80 per cent of all SERP titles, and Google’s advice for website owners hasn’t changed: “Focus on creating great HTML title tags.” However, SEOs should ensure that their H1s and other highly visible sections of text are just as relevant, informative, and optimized.
As a Google Partner digital marketing agency with significant experience in SEO strategy, GrowthEngine Media is keenly aware of the various updates, tweaks, and adjustments Google makes to its algorithm. Our team prides itself of keeping up with these shifts and, when possible, staying one step ahead. Reach out today to discuss how we can help your website get found online.