The question of how to write good title tags is asked often, and I’ve responded to this numerous times both here on SEOMoz as well as other SEO forums.
This essentially makes use of what’s called “canonicalization” – the act of allowing Googlebot know if another URL is an exact duplicate or similar version of yours (in which case only one should rank).
However, before we get into why you’d want to overwrite your own titles with Google’s suggestions, let me explain how not doing so could make things worse for you.
In most cases, the Google title displayed in their search results is different from the one you’d see if you were viewing your page.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re trying to rank for a really competitive keyword – as many times I’ve seen these pages still do pretty well on SERPs even though their titles aren’t entirely relevant (as long as they’re good).
For example, if you’re an online store that sells both shoes and dresses, there’s no reason why Google should be showing your visitors the title “Shoes for Girls” when they search for “Dresses.”
Like many others, I’ve come across numerous instances where Google’s suggested titles make very little sense, which can cause an SEO dilemma for those who are trying to rank well.
If you’re somehow caught by Panda, there are still ways that you can move up in rankings even though your page may not be relevant or have a lot of content.
But alas, I digress! In this case, it doesn’t have do anything directly to your rankings, but rather how Panda interprets these signals.
This is why Google tends to sometimes give extra weight to what it thinks is most important or relevant, and if your title tag includes ideas that don’t match up with your actual content, Panda is likely to disagree.
But does this mean all hope is lost? Well I’m happy to say not at all – there are actually several ways you can fix this issue without having to rewrite every one of your pages (read more about how ContentKing deals with tags).
To do so, simply go to Search Console > Crawl > Fetch as Google and choose “Fetch.” Once you’ve done so, simply type in the keywords that are giving you trouble for each page (as shown below) and take a look at their associated titles:
The nice thing about doing this is that there are some instances where Google actually has really good ideas on what the title should say – but the problem is that it might not be something you can actually edit (for example, they show “New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia” for one of my blog’s pages; I’d love to make this edit but unfortunately cannot).
However, if there are any titles that seem completely off or irrelevant for your site on these pages, Google makes it very easy to fix.
From here, simply change anything that needs fixing and hit the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page.
If you’re worried about Panda penalizing you further for having too many duplicate titles on each of your pages, don’t be!
It might seem like a lot of work at first glance; however once you know what signals are important to Google, it should only take a few minutes to set these changes up.