Titles & Descriptions

Titles and descriptions are forms of metadata used to tell search engines what a webpage is about, inform users about the content on a webpage as well as being used as a factor by Google when determining a page’s ranking within its search results. Our Hangout Notes cover insights from Google around how they handle specified title and meta tags and how they can impact rankings.

It should now be easier to experiment with page title generation

October 30, 2021 Source

As of Summer 2021, page titles are no longer tied to individual queries but instead are tied to the page itself. With this in mind, John recommends trying out different approaches for title tags and rolling out the successful formula across similar page types.

New Snippet Robots Meta Tags Aren’t Essential

October 4, 2019 Source

You don’t have to implement the new snippet meta tags to appear in search results and in rich results. They are optional, and can be used to set things like maximum character counts, the size of image previews, and the length of video previews. John recommends using these tags only if you want to change the way your snippets are currently shown in search.

There is No Direct Ranking Advantage to Including a Website’s Name Within the Title Tag

August 9, 2019 Source

Google will automatically add a website’s branding to title tags when displaying pages in search results as it helps users to better understand the context of the page and displays the relevancy. However, there is no direct ranking advantage for websites who already include this.

Include Supporting Descriptive Content with Videos

March 5, 2019 Source

From Google’s perspective, having a video by itself makes a page hard to understand in terms of its topical focus. Make sure you also add supporting descriptive content to help search engines understand the purpose of pages that contain videos.

Google Decides if Specified Title Tag Should be Used For Ranking & SERPs

January 22, 2019 Source

Title tag changes are complex for Google to process as they need to decide if they should use the title tag provided for ranking and in search results.

Google May Filter Out Parts of Meta Descriptions if Misleading or Spammy

January 11, 2019 Source

Google may filter out parts of meta descriptions if they are deemed them to be spammy or misleading.

Changing Page Titles Will Impact Rankings

November 27, 2018 Source

Google uses page titles as one of the factors when determining page rankings, so completely rewriting a page’s title will impact its keyword rankings.

Page Titles May be Rewritten if They Aren’t Clear, Contain Many Keywords or Are Too Long

July 27, 2018 Source

Google has algorithms to work out when it makes sense to rewrite page titles in search. Rewriting may occur if Google thinks a page title isn’t clear, is a list of keywords or if it is too long.

Don’t Target an Explicit Length For Meta Descriptions

May 15, 2018 Source

John advises against changing meta descriptions based on what’s currently showing in the SERPs as this changes over time and varies for each query. Meta descriptions aren’t used for ranking, they should be relevant and succinct for users.

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