When Google’s title change goes wrong

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In January of 2018, Google announced a change to their algorithm that would now consider the number of articles on your site as more important than its quality. This move has been widely criticized for having negative consequences for small businesses across many industries and has since had several iterations-
which have yet to see any significant impact -on how search engine results are displayed.

When Google's title change goes wrong

Messy SEO is a column that looks at the gritty, unpolished aspects of website audits, planning, and optimization, using MarTech’s new domain as an example.

This part of “Messy SEO” explains how I dealt with a change in the SERP title for one of our most critical MarTech sites. In Part 3, we talked about how we fixed faulty pictures, found appropriate replacements, and finally improved user experience.

RELATED: Getting a Glimpse of Google’s Title Changes: What’s Happening Now and What You Can Do

Changes in the Google SERP title tag are being studied.

Since Google disclosed modifications to its SERP page title generating process, SEOs have been scurrying to assess the effect and make appropriate adjustments to their strategy. Although many organizations witnessed modest adjustments to their title tags, there were a few major outliers. Our staff, in particular, noticed a significant change to the title link on our MarTech mission page (the title of a search result in Google Search).

When-Googles-title-change-goes-wrong The November 13th Google-edited SERP title link.

The SERP title was altered to “MarTech is Marketing Logo,” which was taken from the header logo alt text on our MarTech site. Whereas the original title link (shown below) was our preferred title (“What is MarTech?…This is MarTech”), Google elected to display a piece of alt text that provides no context and fails to entice clicks.

1638515411_442_When-Googles-title-change-goes-wrongThe original October 27th SERP title link.

Examining the changes in clicks and click-through-rate (CTR)

The majority of the MarTech SERP title adjustments we’ve seen haven’t been significant. As a consequence, their clicks, impressions, and CTR figures have remained consistent in recent months.

However, we wanted to look at the search data for our “What is Martech?” website to see how an unintentional title change by Google affected our traffic, particularly since it’s one of our most popular sites. Warning: It wasn’t very good.

1638515412_714_When-Googles-title-change-goes-wrongCTR changes as a result of a search click.

We compared the page’s November performance to its October results since the SERP title change occurred between October 27 and November 1. The overall number of clicks on the page dropped from 2,301 to 1,500, and the average CTR dropped from 3.1 percent to 2%.

The overall number of impressions increased to 75,427, with the average position remaining at 12.7. This suggests that the SERP headline change hasn’t decreased visibility or ranks (as Google said), but has instead significantly reduced people’s willingness to click on the result.

Clearly, the SERP title change had a negative impact on our visitors, thus we needed to find a solution.

Taking action to modify the headline of the SERP

The last thing we wanted to do was wait for Google to alter the title on its own. We made the decision to act straight away. Here are some of the strategies we’ve used so far:

  • Please re-submit the page. We resubmitted the page to Google using Search Console right away. While this is unlikely to alter anything, there’s always the possibility that it may aid crawlers in detecting page components they may have missed – in this example, our title tag.
  • The title tag should be updated. We made a change since it looks the algorithm had a problem with our selected tag. We took care not to fully change it; it is now “What is MarTech?… “Marketing is MarTech.” This version more clearly identifies the page’s theme, which we hope Google will notice.
  • Include internal links that are relevant to the context. Although this page already has a lot of internal connections, we wanted to make sure Google had enough context. To show the crawlers what this page is truly about, we added extra links with contextual anchor text to the page — keyword phrases like “what is martech,” “martech is marketing,” or simply “martech.”
  • Keep an eye on the SERPs. We’ll keep an eye on our title link to see whether the modifications have made a difference. We’ll keep doing these processes every week or two for whatever long it takes.

Have your title links changed much in the last several months? What techniques have you tried, and have any of them worked? To let me know, send an email to cpatterson@thirddoormedia.com with the subject line “Messy SEO Part 4” in the subject line.

SEO is becoming much messier.

Learn more about the SEO case study for our new MarTech domain.

Author Biography



Corey Patterson works as a MarTech and SagaReach Marketing Editor. He covers SEO and PPC industry news to assist marketers better their campaigns. He has a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Google not using my title tag?

A: The title tag is an entry in your Google search. Its a line of text with one or two words that describes the content on your site, like my blog. You can use this to share what youre working on and reach out to people who might be interested. Without it, you wont show up when someone searches for something related to what youre doing.

Why Google would change your title tag in the SERP?

A: Google may be changing your title tag in the SERP to improve SEO.

How do I change the title of my Google site?

A: If you want to change the title of your Google website, its as easy as following these simple steps.
Step 1) Open up a browser and navigate to your site on www.google.com
Step 2) Scroll down until you see Change Site Title at the bottom of the page
Step 3) Enter in an appropriate name for yourself or your company

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