Same thing has happened to me before. I implemented a new set of title tags, google came along and indexed them, I lost alot of my indexed pages. To fix it, I just changed the order of the Title tag back to what it was prior (not exact, but close). Google then ate up my pages and added them back into the index. Maybe it was the $ sign i had as the second word of the tag?
I've been warning of this for some time.
Unless you are a super trusted authority site (ie you can throw up a page on a long tail and rank Top 3 in an hour), then Google is very cranky about title changes lately.
I absolutely can not guarantee the new titles will come back...
You might want to test ONE. and change the others back to their original titles, to see how that ONE page performs.
And THEN slowly switch others while keeping track of the time-frame that the original page (if successful) regained its rankings.
|Google is very cranky about title changes lately |
I've also noticed this. Some of the sites I work with are of the "big boy" variety, and they can shift titles around with no obvious problems. Other sites are more of the "adventurous entrepreneuer" variety - and they pretty much have to get it right the first time. Google is not like Infoseek - where the little guy could get involved with a string of tweaks just to see how the algo responded.
I've also seen other elements beyond the title tag get more sensitive to changes:
1. A site was launched with a link to the domain root for the logo at the top of the page - the alt attribute was just the company name. Months later, they added a couple extra keywords to that alt attribute sitewide, and all those keyword searches went south. And yet a site of a similar size had keywords in the logo's alt element at launch and they had no trouble ranking.
2. I've seen a similar effect with links in the footer. You can launch with a reasonable batch of footer links, especially internal links, and not have trouble. But if you mess around with those links after launch you can be courting trouble unless you're a big name site.
We've known for several years that Google watches a site's history. Looks like their watching even more closely for signs of what they feel is over-optimization.
I've experienced the same drop with changes in the title and don't do it unless it's absolutely necessary.
BTW, no need to put CompanyName.com in title tag because you should rank #1 for it unless your site is penalized and the same with the business name unless your site is not established yet. If you must include your company name then put it last. If you take domain and business name out out then you have more space for keywords.
Google weights the first words of the title more than later words. Putting Companyname.com as the first words of every page is suicide, and odd anyway. Change is not a problem, literally completely useless duplicate content is.
Another reason I don't like seeing the company name first in the title tag is that it ends up first on the browser tab. If a visitor opens several tabs from the same site at once, then the tabs do not clearly identify each page for them. In fact, this is often a frustration for me when i shop some of the major online retailers.
|Looks like their watching even more closely for signs of what they feel is over-optimization. |
That's the impression I'm getting. The theory being that only an SEO would be making changes to the title/alt/etc tags 6 months after the site has been launched/indexed/ranked?
Such would seem to be a direct penalty for performing SEO work rather than any actual Search Relevancy Filter though. Change occurs to correct errors and direct targeting better ... that's good for search engine results isn't it?
|If a visitor opens several tabs from the same site at once, then the tabs do not clearly identify each page for them. |
Ah! Never thought of that. Of course, that means a second change and so far in this thread the concensus is that the first change was bad enough ... :(
If they didn't like the title tag change, they're going to hate the huge sitewide design overhaul that's going to occur next week. That will make the site much better too for our users so Google will probably drop us another 100 places ... because of course, everything we do is all about Google, right? Not our users.
>>> If a visitor opens several tabs from the same site at once, then the tabs do not clearly identify each page for them.
Excellent observation tedster and good usability idea, but this only applies to power users.
Also with the advent of thumbnail views in IE7 and Firefox, users will slowly shift to that option before clicking all tabs.
Hm.... that's interesting. I changed title tag on one of my websites some time ago by simply adding two word phrase. Rankings on this particular website dropped by a huge percent two weeks ago. But this website has always had some sort of ranking swings that seem to be caused by algo changes, so I'm not sure if this time was different.
|I changed title tag on one of my websites some time ago by simply adding two word phrase. Rankings on this particular website dropped by a huge percent two weeks ago. |
Diagnosing this will be difficult if you don't track Google's crawl/cache/SERPs of your site or if Google does not crawl you regularly. We were specifically watching these pages in the SERPs to see what happened when Google showed the new titles which were changed last Thursday.
|Small Website Guy|
This is scary, because I just changed my title from
CompanyName - MinorKeyword1 preposition Keyword1 Keyword2 MinorKeyword2
Keyword1 Keyword2 MinorKeyword1 - CompanyName
in the hopes that it would boost my search engine traffic. I noticed that unique visits decreased from about 600 to 500 a day. But maybe I am just have a bad two days? When I search for Keyword1 Keyword2, I'm still on page 5. So far, the new title tag doesn't show up in the SERPs.
How do we know this isn't just a roll out style delay in updating the title tag part of the index?
Hello all...for what it's worth....my site has been up for about a year and a half (very competitive category) and I have not been doing full optimization until the last two months or so...I'm seeing decent results as I've been adding pages lately....I added about twenty pages for long tail keywords along the same seo theory and didn't get the best placement...I then went in and adjusted my title tags and noticed a drop on my next spidering....which has been about once a week....I left it alone and added more pages....i noticed last night my rankings have rebounded FOR THE BETTER...NOW these ARE NOT that competitive terms but may provide a little insight.
In the last 3 months I changed all my title tags on a site (200 pages) where has been no change for over a year on titles, metas etc...
Site is 6 years old very few inbounds (under 200) but some of those would be deemed high quality in the sector it competes in.
Rankings improved across the board.
We're about the convert a JS fly-out menu that appears on the top of every page of a large site, to an Html/css fly-out. The new menu will present the same style and appearance to the visitor, but it will be spiderable, disability-accessible and CMS-able.
The site has other text-navigation on all pages, so the site has always been spiderable...
HOWEVER... now this thread makes me worry this change could impact on the sites excellent ranks - as it could appear to robots that a bunch of links has been added to the top of every page - when in fact the content will not change at all - it will just become more accessible to all.
While I had the same problem I can report at least one minor success.
After changing the page title I dropped from #1 to about #1000 for my search terms, despite having modified very little. Since I did not know page title changes would cause this, I waited a week before wondering what went wrong. I wrote to google via the webmaster tools reconsider site link and about 3 days later I was back up on top.
So all told I was down about 10 days. In this case it was a pre-launch product and revenue was very small so I was not impacted. However even with this fix some may find such a wait to be unbearable.
|I then went in and adjusted my title tags and noticed a drop on my next spidering....which has been about once a week....I left it alone and added more pages....i noticed last night my rankings have rebounded FOR THE BETTER |
What time-scale are we talking from the ranking drop from title-meta-tag to rebounding back?
|I wrote to google via the webmaster tools reconsider site link and about 3 days later I was back up on top. So all told I was down about 10 days. |
It would be good if anyone had a time-scale for dropped sites that came back without having to contact Google to know if that was the difference. If you definitely have to contact Google to get back up in under a few weeks then that is something webmasters should really be aware of ... no need to raise the alarm if things naturally re-adjust themselves after a few weeks though!
It's a question of stability.
If you've been operating with a title for a long time and your rankings have been built on that particular combination then changing the structure radically would result in such a change.
As has been said before, if the site is an authority or otherwise very 'mature' then this is less likely to be a problem.
|If you've been operating with a title for a long time and your rankings have been built on that particular combination then changing the structure radically would result in such a change. |
I don't consider removing 2-3 words or re-arranging the order slightly to be "radical". Changing "Home Loan Quotes" to "Soup Kitchen Vouchers" is radical.
When the words are the same then re-arranging them and dropping from #1 to #214 seems more like a penalty than a natural result of any change.
I had an experience similar to lightguy's. I changed a title tag to incorporate a price with a $ sign, and overnight dropped from #3 to about #15 for the most important targeted KW phrase. I changed the description tag at the same time, but that really should have been an improvement, especially since the changes fixed a spelling typo in a keyword.
I've put the title back, if that doesn't fix things on the next crawl I'll reset the decription too. Reports of repetitive tweaks being penalized are scary... although that sure makes sense.
When I change titles, or do a makor change on a page, it takes about 2 weeks to recuperate on a PR 5 or 4 pages. Of course this depends on the PR of the page which affects the rate of indexing by Google so a low PR page may take longer to get indexed and recuperate and higher PR sites may not notice much of a difference due to more frequent indexing.
I learned this lesson with Google several years ago after changing my page titles and then watching my site plummet in their index for months thereafter. Dropping a site's page rank for title changes is not a 'new' thing for Google (at least that's been my experience). Also, I don't agree with the idea that 'Company name' being first is necessarily a negative -- "Amazon.com: Product"
|Dropping a site's page rank for title changes is not a 'new' thing |
I agree with your meaning. But for the sake of webmasters everywhere, now and in the future, I want to get picky about words. It's RANKING that drops, not page rank. Page Rank is only influenced by links. Let's all work to lower the confusion ;)
[edited by: tedster at 3:03 am (utc) on Aug. 28, 2008]
The change was about two weeks and they bounced back stronger...at least that was my exp.
I have a page that isn't ranking very well at all for anything. I'm planning on redesigning it and including a change to the title tag. Can I harm the homepage's #1 ranking if I target the same keyword phrase?
Get it right the first time is more important now that ever. I'd prefer to delete a page and use a redirect or just create a new page at a new address than tamper with existing titles.
The issue for Google may not be word order as much as the fact titles were changed. Last year I changed the titles across an entire site of over 1,000 pages. It has since rebounded but was in the 950 tank for months. (May or may not be related to title changes.) The pages unaffected had very solid and very many internal links.
Google once had a problem with overoptimization. Now it looks sometimes as if it just has a problem with optimization. The best time to optimize is at the time of original creation. Do it once. Do it right.
|Can I harm the homepage's #1 ranking if I target the same keyword phrase |
No. From my experience, that particular page may tank (and rebound) but it doesn't affect the pages it is linking to.
|Dropping a site's page rank for title changes is not a 'new' thing for Google (at least that's been my experience) |
Dramatic changes to Titles has always been an issue.
What i'm talking about here is even "minor tweaks" to a title.
I shouldn't even use the word "lately"... it's been happening at least since Dec '07, so maybe we're talking time relativity here.
|When I change titles, or do a makor change on a page, it takes about 2 weeks to recuperate on a PR 5 or 4 pages |
This sounds about right when it works.
For those who aren't sure how quickly Goog picks up their site's "tweaks", I repeat my earlier advice about testing ONE title and then keeping track of how long that takes if it works. -- Then using that timeframe as a constant for other title tweaks, to see when you need to wait longer or you've made Goog "cranky" with your tweak.
|I'd prefer to delete a page and use a redirect or just create a new page at a new address than tamper with existing titles. |
Also an option that I recommended to someone here lately (ahem - you know who you are).
I find myself using this more and more with Goog's crankiness for tweaking.
G gives good points if the title and inbound anchor text to that page have similar keywords. if keywords are missed in title, the inbound anchor text might loose the correlation.
Another thing is the titles are tweaked for the users benefit, why G has a problem with it. Title is also part of content and content changes to a page is a ongoing activity.
|Another thing is the titles are tweaked for the users benefit, why G has a problem with it |
This is/was my keypoint about the "analytics/click-thru = rankings" arguments.
I may rant about many things Goog does wrong, but they aren't stupid enough to be testing click-thrus as a ranking factor and also be super stingy with Title tweaking.
Not every title tweak is a SEO issue.
But that's neither here nor there.
Just another point for future "Google is using click-thru for rankings" arguments ;)
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