As first reported by this SEO consultant, Google is now replacing title tags in search results with content found within a page. While this doesn’t seem like anything new (Google first dynamically replaced title tags starting in 2011), this seems to be a much more widespread change.
When Was the Title Tag Change Noticed?
The change to search results was first caught by the SEO community last week. It’s been rolling out across all industries, so it’s not one particular area of search that has been impacted by the change. Unfortunately, it’s tough to tell if the change has fully rolled out or if it is still in progress.
Why This Change Matters
For years SEO professionals have been updating title tags to reflect their keyword targets. The title tag, or commonly called the meta title tag, has been used to show the title of a page in results. It’s one of the most common recommendations for new websites and has always been considered a ranking factor for Google. Without a title, Google wasn’t able to properly understand what a page is about. Now, by using the content of the page to dictate the title, it means content producers have to use keywords in their content.
Where Is Google Finding the Content?
In a variety of tests, it was shown over and over again that Google is populating the title from the H1 tag of a page. It’s likely that Google sees this as the most important element of the page and therefore wants to show it to users in search results. As an SEO or content creator, this means you need to make sure that 1) your pages have H1 tags and 2) you are using keywords to populate this tag. Remember to not be too spammy in your tags, but be descriptive.
How Do You Know What to Put in the H1 Tag?
Most commonly it is the main topic of the page. For instance, if you have a page about pet food, then the main heading should be “pet food”. This is the case for small business websites to larger e-commerce sites. If you don’t know the main intent of the page, you need to sit back and plan a content strategy. Try to use keyword research to guide you, but you also need to have a comprehensive understanding of your products and services.
What’s Next from Google?
This is the third major change in recent months. First, we had an algorithm change in June that was quickly followed by the Core Web Vitals update. Now, with this heading / title tag update, many SEO professionals are left wondering what Google will roll out next. With the holidays just around the corner, we have to imagine there will be another broad update coming (these seem to be happening quarterly as of late).
Be sure to follow the Hollis Internet Marketing blog as we will keep you updated on any new algorithm changes from Google.