Google shares blog post following title tag changes Week-long title tag confusion leads to clarity from Google

author image Written by: Wade Morris           Categories - In The News, SEO

Google has finally given an official response to the uproar in the SEO community following a change to how SERPs display title tags.

We’re used to seeing SERPs display search results a certain way – clickable ‘title tags’ representing the page displayed. However, on August 16, SEOs began to notice that Google was displaying alternate text in place of the title.

Barry Schwartz noted peculiar title display choices in a post on Search Engine Roundtable on August 17. Other SEOs shared their findings on Twitter.



SEOs noted that, rather than displaying the page’s title, SERPs would use a page’s H1, H2 or even seemingly random text from the page. One SEO even noticed that the date was displayed as a title:

Google had been known to adjust meta descriptions to display what may be considered more relevant text, but it was a surprise for many SEOs to see titles being toyed with.

Danny Sullivan Responds

Google’s Danny Sullivan responded to criticism and confusion from the SEO community, first tweeting about the issue on August 19.

Specifically, he shared that he wants to see improvements to both how Google selects titles and how site owners can anticipate these selections.

“We’ve heard the feedback & looking into all this,” he said. “It was never the case that writing the ‘perfect title’ guaranteed that title would be used. We have long used more than title tags for creating page titles.”

Sullivan added that he hopes to see Google provide a tool in Search Console that can help point site owners in the right direction when their titles don’t seem to match Google’s standards for relevancy.

Google’s Official Statement

On August 24 – a week after changes were noticed by SEOs – Google finally published an official statement on its Search Central Blog.

The post, titled ‘An update to how we generate web page titles,’ confirms that Google did, in fact, implement changes to how SERPs display titles.

The new system prioritizes text that readers can actually see – possibly main titles or H1s, or any text that is styled to be large and prominent.

“We think our new system is producing titles that work better for documents overall, to describe what they are about, regardless of the particular query,” the post says.

The post also explains that HTML tags, while previously a popular option for page titles, do not always describe a page well.

“Overall, our update is designed to produce more readable and accessible titles for pages,” the post says.

Google ends the post by reminding readers that site owners should focus on producing good HTML title tags: “Of all the ways we generate titles, content from HTML title tags is still by far the most likely used, more than 80% of the time,” it says.

Has the change to title tags affected you or your site in any way? You can leave feedback in Google’s forums and share your experiences.

Wade Morris

Wade brings an energetic approach to writing – he is always on the hunt for stories and angles that matter. With years of experience in journalism and marketing environments, Wade has written about everything from politics to education. Now, he writes about SEO and digital marketing trends.