News that sent SEOs spiraling this week: Google has started algorithmically rewriting title tags in search results.
For example, a blog post titled “What Does Woodworm Look Like?” started displaying as “What Does Woodworm Beetle Look Like?” (Emphasis ours.)
It was a solid edit — but for a full week, SEOs didn't know why it happened.
And, unlike John-Henry Scherck, they worried about it.
Last Tuesday, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan published a blog post explaining the following:
- Google is now pulling the title tags that appear in its SERPs not purely from meta titles, but also from “visual titles” (our read: display titles), H1s, body text, and backlink anchor text.
- Page titles will no longer change based on search query.
And Sullivan said users seem to prefer the new system.
What can you do?
Instead of panicking, SEOs and brands can keep focusing on creating title tags (and overall content) that are as useful to searchers as possible.
And if you notice traffic drops due to the new titles, try optimizing your H1s (and requesting a Search Console recrawl).