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Does Google count Titles that are not inside <head>?

 6:34 am on Feb 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm working with a script that is fairly ancient and while making it more SEO friendly I came across some funny behavior, it doesn't seem to matter where on page you place a title or description tag... browsers read it just fine from any location.

The script includes a hard coded header area so if Google can also find the title and description tags within the content I'm not inclined to complicate this script further.

Question is, will this cause problems with Google ?



 7:16 pm on Feb 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google does have good error recovery these days, and I have seen non-standard title elements being handled properly. But I certainly wouldn't risk it.

First, other errors on the page might complicate the parsing -- and remembering that Google is not the only search engine that delivers traffic, I'd say it's worth the effort to fix this since it will affect the entire site.


 9:12 pm on Feb 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would always fix basic errors like this, errors that break the fundamental rules of HTML document structure.


 8:28 am on Mar 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm also in the habit of having code validate, it nags at me when it doesn't in fact, but if you saw this script you'd know why I won't even venture to try. It's on cpr already and would need a major re-write which I'm not getting a green light to do (yet).

My client feels that this script is the best and I failed at convincing him otherwise but the head and footer are in the same file and the database requires that a lot of content be accessible in specific places so... like I said, it's an extremely old script. It's nice to know at least Google is able to read it.

Thanks guys. I'll update if I see results, good or bad, before this thread gets auto-locked.

[edited by: JS_Harris at 8:29 am (utc) on Mar. 1, 2009]

Robert Charlton

 8:51 am on Mar 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Check out this recent thread, which discusses a different missing section, but touches on your question....

Missing <BODY> tag - will Google not index the page properly?

pageoneresults posts some observations and <title> element test results which you should check out on the thread, as well as the following references....


7.3 The HTML element
Start tag: optional, End tag: optional

7.4.1 The HEAD element
Start tag: optional, End tag: optional

7.5.1 The BODY element
Start tag: optional, End tag: optional

The thread also contains suggestions for testing in standards compliant browsers. Whether you can get it to work or not, if it were my site I would definitely fix it.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:56 am (utc) on Mar. 1, 2009]


 12:01 pm on Mar 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Without touching on the subject of SEO, I would ask you this, "Would you trust the contents of a book which does not have proper alignment, and flow of text?"

I would not..And I believe, Google would not rank websites that have not followed basic alignment styles highly either..


 12:37 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Update, after 5 days Google began indexing the site.

None of the <title> tags are within the <body> section, all are deep inside the content, but Google is indexing the pages with the proper titles.

The index page has not been indexed as of yet, only internal pages return with the site command. Also, no articles return at all for the exact page title with quotation marks so it remains to be seen if the pages can be found by search.

It's just too soon to know. The client is pleased and still doesn't want a major re-write of the code related to titles and meta tags but I am concerned. Thanks for the links Robert.


 12:11 am on Mar 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Run the pages through a strict HTML validator and show it to your customer. Explain that some browsers may not respond well to broken pages and that he will lose customers that way.

Might be an idea to check in major browsers before saying that, though. :)

Do yahoo and msn index them ok?


 11:12 am on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

MSN has so far indexed only the home page, properly titled and with a great description (the site provides no descriptions).

Yahoo has not indexed the site at all yet but the site was launched after Yahoo's latest round of updates.

Google has begun indexing deeper pages, roughly 36 of the 40 in total, and is sending traffic.

I ran the site through a popular validation service for my client and its ugly, some 130 errors and 50 warnings, but the site "looks" the same on every major browser and search engine cache's are all accurate and so the customer doesn't want changes, or rather, doesn't want to pay for validation or SEO work right now.

I'm honestly a little surprised at the indexing results so far. A title buried deep within the content of a poorly designed site along with a lack of descriptions/keywords doesn't seem to be affecting rankings... yet.


 11:16 am on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I should mention that I did submit the site to both Yahoo and MSN manually. MSN writes this on the submission page - "Thank you for submitting your URL to Live Search MSNBot automatically indexes pages that meet accepted standards for content, design, and technical implementation."

If this site meets the accepted standards I'm a monkey's uncle. It will be interesting to see where it stands in 3 months.

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