Google Title Tag Rewrite: Why And How To Fix For SEO

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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.

So for those who are unaware, there’s a way that you can overlay your existing title tag with the one suggested by Google, which will help it better rank in the SERPs.

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).

Google Title Tag Rewrite: Why And How To Fix For SEO

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.

In many cases, they don’t even match up very well with one another.
As a result, it can be difficult to determine whether or not Google’s title idea is at all relevant to what your page is about.

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).

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But there are other instances where this can be troublesome and/or annoying for users who come across your site via Google’s suggestions.

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.”

The same goes for a page that is optimized with a different keyword – this is why it’s important to understand which tags are better or worse depending on what your site specializes in.

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.

But there’s also another reason why you should consider using their suggestions – it could help prevent your site from getting penalized (or demoted) by Google (read more about Penguin).

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.

However,
you need to understand that Google expects the titles and descriptions on these pages to be relevant as well – so if they don’t match up with what’s actually present, it could cause problems.

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But alas, I digress! In this case, it doesn’t have do anything directly to your rankings, but rather how Panda interprets these signals.

For example, let’s say you have a website about parrots (because who doesn’t?) where each page has something along the lines of “What is a Macaw” as the title tag.
This might seem like an accurate description for this type of bird on first glance; however if one were to do some research Macaws beforehand (or even read the page), they would probably come to the conclusion that this doesn’t fit in with the rest of their site.

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.

So even though you may rank well for certain keywords, these titles can cause problems for both users and Google in some cases.

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).

For starters, you can use the “Fetch as Google” function to see how Panda interprets your page.

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Doing this can be useful if you ever come across any of these types of queries on Google – not only will it give you insight into what’s causing issues, but you can also identify if it’s even something worth fixing.

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.

Simply click on the “Fetch and Render” tab once you’ve finished fetching all your URLs and Google will load them up in the browser just like they would normally appear to users:

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From here, simply change anything that needs fixing and hit the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page.

At this point it’s best to check your page results and see if Google’s suggestions are any better – but if they’re not, simply repeat the process until you get something that works.

If you’re worried about Panda penalizing you further for having too many duplicate titles on each of your pages, don’t be!

Technically speaking, Google can actually handle this situation just fine (just make sure there isn’t anything else giving it problems).
But all-in-all, these are great options to use even if you don’t have any real issues with Panda – especially if your site specializes in one particular area or topic.

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.

The last thing I’ll say about this is that if you have any content here that needs attention, it’s generally best to do all of the pages on your site for consistency purposes – but if there are some queries you’re worried about, definitely don’t forget to check them first!

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