Recently Google announced, in an update, that they can rewrite the title tags of each page.
The first thing to know is that this update concerns the visual aspect of titles in SERPs and not the algorithmic aspect that ranks your pages in the search results.
This is still a problem for any SEOs working on their content, titles and meta descriptions. Indeed, if the work is well done, you have chosen your title tags with your main keywords in order to seduce users and search engines like Google.
The fact that Google rewrites these tags forces us to rethink the way we optimize pages for search engines. From now on, we have to understand why Google changes visually the title tags to sometimes take an H1, sometimes keep only a part of the titles, or take pieces of content or link anchors.
What are the consequences of this Google update?
By analyzing the data from Google Search Console, you may observe a decrease in your click-through rate (CTR) and a decrease in traffic. This is often a warning signal that something has happened to your site and your title tags. Since this update only affects the visual aspect, the CTR is affected, but not the positions.
What to do if your title tags have changed?
Google rewrites the titles so that they have a better appearance, a better reading for the Internet users.
If your CTR is strongly affected by this update, do not hesitate to report your case on the thread opened by John Mueller on the Google blog.
- In any case, keep working on your titles so that they are optimized for your visitors.
- Don’t forget the basics of SEO, namely, fill in your Titles, Meta Description, your H1, H2, H3 titles, the alternative attributes of your images as well as your contextual links anchors.
- The length of your tag also counts, but this is another basic point. A tag that is too short will have a great chance of being rewritten by Google, just as a tag that is too long will be truncated for better readability.
Get back the titles of your pages
To retrieve the title tags of each page, it’s quite simple thanks to Oncrawl. You just have to launch a crawl, or to take the data of your last crawl, then go to the Data Explorer.
Then select the pages dataset, and add the following OQL (filter):
Depth => has any value
Delete all the columns and keep only one column for the URL and add a column for the title tag.
Then export the list of pages obtained in CSV, you have the list of all your pages crawled by Oncrawl, with for each page the title tag of your HTML code.
Compare your tags with what is indexed by Google
To do this, we will use the IsIndexed tool, (created by Stéphane Madaleno) which allows to retrieve the status of each URL (indexed or not, with the title that appears in the SERP, among other information).
The use of the IsIndexed tool is quite simple, and allows to use 200 credits for free. As for Oncrawl, you have a 14-day free trial, so take advantage of it!
Step 1: Add your URLs to be verified like this.
Step 2: Wait for the verification to be done and you get this result
Step 3: Export the list of all links in CSV
Step 4: Now we can compare the list of titles from Oncrawl, with what is indexed in Google via the list of titles retrieved by IsIndexed.
A vertical search to match everything, compare the titles and that’s it.
And that’s how, in a few clicks, you could check if you are affected by the Google update that rewrites your titles. By comparing the HTML titles and the titles indexed by Google, you can see the extent of this update on your website.