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Adjusted order of title tags - rankings tanked
internetheaven




msg:3729086
 7:34 pm on Aug 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Past two days have shown a 65%+ decrease in traffic, we have around 250 pages. Last week I went through about 60 of them and adjusted the title tags to something I thought would be more appropriate. e.g. from:

"CompanyName - Get your keyword1, keyword2, keyword3 & keyword4 Quote Now from Company Name"

to

"CompanyName.com ¦ Company Name Keyword1 & Keyword2 Quotes"

as the extra two keywords were not really traffic pullers so I wanted to highlight our better offers. For this sort of change we lost rankings for "CompanyName Keyword1" and "Company Name Keyword1". Alternatively, all I did was rearrange the order e.g. from:

"Company Name ¦ Keyword1 & Keyword2's at CompanyName.com"

to

"CompanyName.com ¦ Keyword1 & Keyword2's from Company Name"

If it has just mainly been the first example that was dropping I would assume I had done something like lost "synonym value" or tripped one of the many theorised "Over-Optimization Filters".

But as simply the order changed on the majority am I safe to assume that this is just some sort of Trust-Rank loss due to a large portion of my titles having changed suddenly? Should I see my rankings come back in a few weeks once a Google update has passed and my titles appear fixed/static/steady?

Thanks
Mike

 

Funtick




msg:3732757
 8:49 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi guys, what about dynamic Description META-tag? Can it show dynamic staff like "7 green widgets on bookshelf number 4" today, and "6 green widgets on bookshelf number 4" just because one green widget was sold? ANy such experience?

Funtick




msg:3732759
 8:51 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just as a sample: some shopping sites show price in their dynamic (price can change!) description meta-tag, and even in a title.

Northstar




msg:3732790
 9:39 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I had a similar thing happen. My site dropped and I'm trying different things to fix it. I ad a issue with duplicate title and meta's. I change the titles so in now displays "keyword bla page 1" then "keyword bla page 2" and so on. Days after the change my site came back for two days and then dropped again. Do you think this could have been caused by the change in title tags?

whitenight




msg:3732802
 9:55 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi guys, what about dynamic Description META-tag?

Haven't seen any problems with changing meta descriptions.

Reno




msg:3732803
 9:56 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I had a issue with duplicate title and meta's.

Presumably you found this out in your Google Webmaster Tools account? I see that for myself occasionally (especially for very old sites), so I always make the adjustments. It does not seem logical that, on the one hand, Google would alert us that we have this duplicate title issue, then on the other hand, punish us when we fix that very problem! If they are in fact "penalizing" for changing titles (even temporarily), then hopefully they are making an exception for modifying duplicates.

...............................

Funtick




msg:3732821
 10:46 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Modifying duplicates does not mean penalizing for title changes. You may have two pages with similar content and exactly the same title; if you change title of second page Google won't penalize first page...

Although I believe Webmaster Tools provides just warnings (and not errors) which Webmaster may not or may ignore. Nothing wrong if two pages with similar content have exactly the same title... Googler can simply click "similar pages" link in SERPs.

Many websites do not have at all description metatag and ignore Google warnings. Nothing wrong with their SERPs...

steveb




msg:3732834
 11:00 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

"they don't want webmasters tweaking their titles every third day just to see what happens."

They don't? It makes no difference to them whatsoever. More FUD. Google couldn't care less if their algo likes one legit title more than another legit title.

Funtick




msg:3732847
 11:17 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I believe META-tags-related issues are very natural to the technology. Don't forget about Google Dance. If you slightly change page content (such as price change for Blue T-Widget) Google does not have to dance. If you change Title - dance is enforced, Google must invalidate all copies of indexed document in a cluster and to replace it with fresh one... minor changes in a page (changed few bytes in a 50Kb HTML) do not have such impact on indexing as changing 10%-50% of Title metatag.

I think it's natural technology requirement and not a penalty...

Reno




msg:3732848
 11:20 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google couldn't care less if their algo likes one legit title more than another legit title.

I do believe you may be the first person to say that frequent title changing makes no difference:

Lightguy1 ... "Same thing has happened to me before"

whitenight ... "I've been warning of this for some time."

tedster ... "I've also noticed this."

Lorel ... "I've experienced the same drop with changes in the title"

Gone ... "Rankings on this particular website dropped by a huge percent two weeks ago"

RossWal ... "I had an experience similar to lightguy's."

Play_Bach ... "I learned this lesson with Google several years ago"

and on and on......

..........................................

T_Miller




msg:3732886
 12:32 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I recently saw my main ecommerce keyword phrase that I have ranked #1 for years in the big three drop to #2 on Google. The page hasn't changed recently so I investigated and found a competitor's 3rd level page from a 98ish-looking Frontpage drag & drop site (looked like my work 10 years ago - LOL) had moved ahead of my site. They had repeated the 2-word keyword phrase 3 times in the title, twice in the description header and roughly twenty times on the page.

I made a couple tweaks to my page, one to the H1 and another more drastic changed to the page title. In less than a week, I was back to #1 and haven't moved since (about a month now).

Go figure...

tedster




msg:3732910
 1:16 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I believe META-tags-related issues...

Please note that the title element is not a meta tag. It also plays quite powerfully into the ranking algo. Meta tags - not really, except for helping to stay out of the supplemental index in borderline cases.

steveb




msg:3732944
 2:40 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

"I do believe you may be the first person to say that frequent title changing makes no difference"

I didn't say that. ***Frequent changes*** is part of one of their patents as effecting ranking. Frequent trivial changes is also called out in the patent. This has nothing to do with titles specifically.

What we have here is horribly FUDdy thread spreading illogical conclusions. The ranking differences made in the original post obviously have nothing to do with change for changes sake. If you change a title from "Red Widget Bargains" to "Red Widget Deals" then you are going to rank worse for [red widget bargains]. ANY changes will lead to a change in rankings.

Changing titles hasn't the slightest risk compared to changing anything else. Google has tons of patents. NONE say changing a title is some notable ranking element in running a search engine. None. Before any bit of FUD becomes too widespread, a look at what Google thinks IS important enough to patent is a good idea -- and what is so unimportant that they NEVER mention it.

Oversimplified, Google likes some change. Google doesn't like lots of changes. Google LIKES to see a change from a page titled "President George Washingtonn" to on titled "President George Washington", and if you change it the other way, your rankings will go down for [George Washington] searches.

There is absolutely nothing to fear in changing titles to make them more accurate and reflective of the page content, unless you coincidentally happen to be in the habit of fiddling with pages in a bot-disappointing way. But it isn't the title change that is bad, it's the fiddling.

There is zero reason for Google to care, let alone penalize, a page for the mere act of changing a title. None. They could not care less -- as long as the title is not spammy and reflects the semantic content of the page. Penalizing title changes would make no sense at all, to the degree there is no way to even articulate a reason why this could be a bad thing (again, assuming titles accurately reflect the page).

Titles are extremely important. The first three words are what really matter. Anytime you change them, you change your rankings for every search term associated with the words in the title.

Reno




msg:3732948
 2:46 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I didn't say that. ***Frequent changes*** is part of one of their patents as effecting ranking.

I stand corrected

...and...

appreciate the excellent & informative explanation on your part.

..........................

tedster




msg:3732958
 2:58 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Super post steveb - I hope everyone reading this thread reads all the way down to it.

seoexperts




msg:3734355
 2:22 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well I also have noticed drop in rankings with some of my well performing blogs and sites,
for one of my blog, which was ranking on second page with one of the most competitive word. I'm still paying the cost from past 9 months after changing its title,, it was thrown out of even top 100,, and not came back till now..!

But yeah i've also noticed that if you use better Titles related to the content of each particular web page of your site,, chances are that you might get much better ranks than before (but yeah this change will take 2-3 months) as Google never likes the change in Title, it considers it as the change in the topic of the page, that it was ranking and so for precautionary change it drops it ranking for few days to re-analyze it..! :-D

[edited by: tedster at 4:09 am (utc) on Aug. 30, 2008]

Funtick




msg:3734434
 3:56 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

[quote]Please note that the title element is not a meta tag.[quote]

Yes, <title> is not <meta> (meta-tag). Just wording correction: title is part of meta information attached to a page. During indexing: title & plainText & incomingAnchorText & ... (but not keywords, description, author, XML-comments, JavaScript, etc.). Title naturally associates with true subject of a page, it's not only "META-info" - it is shown in user's bookmarks for instance. Changing title is a red light that page has _significant_ changes and causes all cached-indexed copies to become stale... new (indexed) page will loose ranking too, recovery time depends on site popularity...

Funtick




msg:3734438
 4:12 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Before any bit of FUD becomes too widespread, a look at what Google thinks IS important enough to patent is a good idea -- and what is so unimportant that they NEVER mention it.

If you are referencing 'patents'... don't you think someone already patented 'title ...' (or role of a title for rankings)? or may be Google wished but was unable to patent 'title ...'?

Just as a sample: how to filter 'similar content' and show it as a one single page in SERPs? MD5-Hash could be patented (if it's not yet), but not by Google.

I hate patenting. Google's Engine (and their patents too) are based on non-patented research work of many others.

Naturally, each Document in Search Engine Index should have Primary Key. Some engines use MD5-hash for extracted text, others could use simplified MD5-hash of compound field Title+Domain and automatically avoid duplicate content & session ids issues in their indexes.

BTW (I am new here) what is FUD?
Thanks

internetheaven




msg:3734637
 8:06 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

The ranking differences made in the original post obviously have nothing to do with change for changes sake. If you change a title from "Red Widget Bargains" to "Red Widget Deals" then you are going to rank worse for [red widget bargains]. ANY changes will lead to a change in rankings.

To clarify, I didn't report such an issue. To use your example, I changed the title from "Red Widget Bargains" to "Red Widget Deals" and dropped 100 places for "red widget".

I must say I have to disagree with your theory though. I didn't lose rankings based on losing words from the title or the fact that they weren't the "first three words" anymore <-- please correct me if I have misunderstood your analysis of the situation. What happened to me was a distinct penalty where I dropped dramatically in ranking for four days. At the end of which I moved back up to the original positions I was in with identical traffic figures to before the drop. The order of the titles were still changed, the "first three words" were still all different but my rankings came back.

With your theory that shouldn't have happened, right?

I'm still paying the cost from past 9 months after changing its title,, it was thrown out of even top 100,, and not came back till now..!

That situation and a few others that have been posted are probably completely different problems that have been attributed to a title change. So I agree that the thread has decended into a "oh, that's why my spammy site with no inbounds and broken links dropped in ranking - it was the title tag all along!" which is useless. But I don't believe my situation fits into your hole.

60 out of 250 title tags changed - no other content, linking or design changes. 2-3 days later rankings plummet for just those pages and most traffic is lost. 3-4 days after that rankings and traffic back up at identical levels to before the drop. I can't think of another explanation that a specifically targeted title tag filter.

pageoneresults




msg:3734649
 8:21 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Super post steveb - I hope everyone reading this thread reads all the way down to it.

Maybe split it to keep it going? I would have never found it had I not had some "free" time to read through the entire topic. :)

diddlydazz




msg:3734675
 9:24 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

great post steveb

IMHO

i would add, if you are going to make additions (not just move the words around) to your page title ensure that you change/add to the content of the page too.

in other words, if you changed "#*$!company - we sell cheap bespoke widgets" to "cheap bespoke widgets from #*$!company", there should not be a problem (if there was it would be temporary).

if you changed it from "#*$!company - we sell cheap bespoke widgets" to "cheap bespoke blue and green widgets from #*$!company".

there may (almost certainly) be a slight change in the ranking for "cheap bespoke widgets".

if you did NOT add extra content to the page which included "blue and green" then obviously you would have trouble targetting "cheap bespoke blue/green widgets".

dont add anything to the title that is not reflected in the content.

if you are updating a page to include new content, then it is good housekeeping to add it to the title tag (and metas).

steveb




msg:3734688
 9:55 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

"To use your example, I changed the title from 'Red Widget Bargains' to 'Red Widget Deals' and dropped 100 places for 'red widget'."

No you didn't, or at least that's not what I read in your post. You added "Companyname.com" at the beginning of every one of your titles. In doing so, *any* other changes are dwarfed (and impacted) by that humungous, unhelpful change.

If you change the sparkplugs on your car, but also take the tires off, and then you can't drive as fast, it's not a good idea to say my car doesn't go as fast since I changed the sparkplugs.

internetheaven




msg:3734898
 9:04 am on Aug 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you change the sparkplugs on your car, but also take the tires off, and then you can't drive as fast, it's not a good idea to say my car doesn't go as fast since I changed the sparkplugs.

Eh? That last one didn't even make sense. You're still stuck in gear. ;) Your speculating that my rankings dropped because I changed the title tag and moved things around. BUT - you keep avoiding the final result. Four days later those rankings are back to normal.

You can produce a whole batch of analagys to state that my changing the title tag caused the drop and that I'm an idiot. But the fact remains, that the now "rubbish titles" you claim I have are ranking for the exact same phrases and in the exact same positions as they were before the four day drop.

Our rankings have been unaffected by the changed titles. They were only affected for four days because they were changed.

Note: CompanyName.com has to be visible in the title link area of SERPS, that is what our research has shown for our company, products and click-through rates. There are thousands of different businesses on the web and thousands of different users, not all fit into the SEO box you like to keep things in. Visitors, not rankings, are the main goal. No.1 with the wrong title is worse than No.3 with the right title.

CainIV




msg:3735096
 6:52 pm on Aug 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Internetheaven - check the cache date on pages with changed titles. It's unlikely, unless you have a higher page rank website, that page would already all be cached in Google.com with the new titles.

It is more likely that you are viewing results on a server that is not as up-to-date in terms of results as a previous DC where you seen the previous results.

If this is the case, then there will still be movement once they all are.

rowtc2




msg:3735141
 7:43 pm on Aug 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

A penalty just for title tag change could be a mistake from google.If i need to redifine title tag to have more clear titles for visitors when see pages in serps,should not be a bad thing . Maybe i built the site in a bad way at the beginning,maybe i think is better to inverse the order of some words in title tag to be more intuitive for users.
Keyword once in a page title should not be a problem at all, twice or more can be.

If i sell cars ,having different pages with titles like "red cars" "blue cars" "green cars" etc could be a problem ?

tedster




msg:3735142
 7:53 pm on Aug 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Let's be real clear and not create any myth with this thread. There is no "penalty" just for a title tag change. Internetheaven began this thread right after his changes and for four days after that, there was an adjustment period. But all is now well - there is no penalty.

Yes, there are many good reasons to change titles. And yes, if you do it indiscriminately, you might cause ranking problems in that case.

steveb




msg:3735219
 10:30 pm on Aug 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

"You can produce a whole batch of analagys to state that my changing the title tag caused the drop..."

No, I didn't leap to a conclusion based on one day. You seem to have paniced at normal behavoir, which is sometimes Google drops websites in the rankings due to lots of reasons. They then recover next daily update or next crawl or whenever.

You drew a wholly erroneous conclusion from one day's activity. I have no idea how major or trivial the terms you rank for are, but regardless, the longterm effect of changing those titles still WEEKS away. We don't even know what master cache of the page Google is ranking it from at this point.

You changed your titles to be less useful than they were previously. That doesn't mean they will not rank about as well as before, but there is a good chance they won't. It's possible Google didn't like the weaker titles when it fresh crawled the site, but when that fresh cache rotated out and they went back to the older master cache the rankings came back, temporarily.

Whatever. None of that relates to the point, which is there is no penalty for the simple act of changing titles.

===

"No.1 with the wrong title is worse than No.3 with the right title."

Sure, but adding companyname.com is "wrong" for search engines and for users. It may be right "right" for your company, but if you choose to do things to brand your website you have to understand that this is not Google's intent and their algorithms can and should lower your rankings. This business is about making choices. If you want A, you may lose B. Wanting everything your way just isn't going to happen.

caribguy




msg:3735895
 10:23 am on Sep 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

It just great [hmm...] to see this thread right after making a sitewide change from / to:

location1 / location2 widgets - free widget action and widgetsynonym guide

location1 / location2 widgets - free action and widgetsynonym guide

on content pages the title now becomes

location1 / location2 widgets: [unique page title] - free action and widgetsynonym guide

Reasoning behind change was removing the redundant singular form of widget. The site now ranks 1st page for location widget action and all its location / synonym variants.

Too late to go back, will keep monitoring and post back here...

Mobro4000




msg:3737116
 7:30 am on Sep 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's interesting that not long ago (maybe 2 months now) Google webmaster tools has been reporting the number of duplicate title tags. So I imagine that many webmasters, including myself, see that as a fair indication of what G-bot sees as "on-site duplicate content". Or maybe I'm wishing that they were giving us that information so readily.

We've changed close to 50% of our title tags, because the site is template-ized, and haven't seen any change except for an increase in more wide-range long-tail traffic! It has been nothing but a good thing (so far). Albeit, this was done on an authority site. So as some people have mentioned, perhaps G was more lenient with the change.

batgirl13uk




msg:3737165
 9:16 am on Sep 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks so much for this post! I have had a similar experience. I think as mentioned that Google does respond to trends in the SEO industry or circles and have certainly noticed a trend of focus on Titles and Header tags in the past year.

caribguy




msg:3741564
 11:16 pm on Sep 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Following up on my own post of Sept 1st:

The site has been reindexed. Removing the redundant singular form of "keyword" from the title tag had no measurable effect either way.

Out of 5 keyword combinations that I track for [alt. spelling / variant of location] and singular form of keyword, only one dropped 2 spots and has now recovered.

Interestingly, the same combinations using the plural form rank 2-3 positions lower on average (below the fold on page 1).

Munster




msg:3745705
 3:34 pm on Sep 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Guys,

Has there been any movement on this over the last week or is everyone still of the opinion that there is nothing to worry about?

Munst

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