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|Google Changing Page Titles & Descriptions|
Does anyone have a good reason why Google couldn't just leave my home page title and description alone when I put noodp on the page?
I personally can't think of one. I can understand wanting to let their users know what the site has, but there's NO WAY they know the other titles and descriptions on the SERP pages better than I know them for my niche, and there's NO WAY they know what stands out on that page or results better than I do, so why do they need to mess with my home page title and description, especially when the page contains a noodp robots tag?
I don't mind if they want to convert ALL CAPS to First Letter Only or truncate it when it's too long, but I wish they would not change the text when I indicate I don't want it changed by using a meta robots noodp tag.
I was posting at the same time, sorry. You're only 30 days old?
Oh, in that case don't worry about it. You'll float to the top within a few months, virtually guaranteed.
What I would do is change your title for now, get the rankings boost, leave it that way for a few months and then change the title back. By then G will recognize that your brand is synonymous with the query (you could be the "bandaid" of this niche), and will probably give you the title you want.
Here, let's run a simple test. Mind you, this tool is somewhat strict and I've found that if it cannot extract a semantic outline from your document, there may be some challenges at hand...
Semantic Data Extractor
When I attempt to extract a semantic outline from your "valid" document, I get a Tidy message which I've not seen before. I do believe they've corrected the display of an old school message that used to appear which few understood. Basically, if you cannot extract a semantic outline using this tool, you have to consider that the "meaning" of your document may be incorrectly conveyed to the bots, referred to as Machine Readable Grammar in the protocol for UAs.
Even though this document validates, there are problems with its semantic structure. This is where much of the confusion takes place when discussing validation. Even though a document validates, that does not mean that it has proper structure. There are plenty of online tools that allow you to perform tests to determine whether or not you may have challenges in this area. The Semantic Data Extractor from the W3 is an excellent tool to use regularly.
Heh, its always fun to go back and re-read replies. You have to be sure and keep up with the edits. :)
|As far as semantics go, the order of importance is simple for a bot to figure out... It goes from the top down. The <header> is the header. The H1 is the heading of the following content. The <footer> is the footer. It really doesn't need H2s or H3s or H4s. |
I'll disagree. If the document has depth, it absolutely needs segmentation through the use of <h> and other semantic elements. You've got enough content there, that is hidden, to easy qualify for a broad range of html elements to help define the document further. I mean, you're missing out on the whole document Outline concept by not using <h> elements (and many other elements) appropriately. Google have stated that they use those to assist in micro-targeting content within the document itself.
|I know, because Bing has it nailed. |
Nah, I think Bing still have some catching up to do here. I don't see where Google is at fault in this instance. A few simple changes to the structure and content of the document and you could easily nail a top position there.
|What they don't have nailed is the ability of short and concise to communicate plenty when the site fits exactly what the searcher searched for. |
Hmmm, it appears you want Google to read your mind. They do a pretty good job of doing that too! ;)
|Oh, in that case don't worry about it. You'll float to the top within a few months, virtually guaranteed. |
;) Yeah, the site's been registered for a while, but there was a bunch of time and effort put into making it work, so it was put behind a login form and I'm sticking with function before form on this one, yes P1R, including any other semantic markup, in fact I might leave that alone for a bit and see what I can do without it ... should be a nice little case study, imo.
I added to my other post and I don't know if you saw it, but I really can't (won't is more accurate) change some of the things right now, for reasons I won't disclose, and the point of the thread isn't them getting me to put the title they want me to use on the site, that's easy and I had it longer before and it wasn't changed, but... It's my site and it's my title and I'm not going to change it for everyone or how it displays in the browser, because that's part of branding, and it's important, imo.
|Hmmm, it appears you want Google to read your mind. |
No, I want them to let me brand my site...
When you only focus on Search Engine rankings you miss out on a whole bunch of what makes an actual business.
I've really had enough of the tongue-in-cheek comments though, so why don't we just agree to disagree on how things should be and like you said before, just go separate ways on things ... Thanks for the input.
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 3:18 pm (utc) on Feb 19, 2011]
|It's my site and it's my title and I'm not going to change it for everyone or how it displays in the browser, because that's part of branding, and it's important, imo. |
You are correct, you make the choices which influence the final outcome here.
Its common knowledge that the title and meta description are probably the two most important elements one can optimize for the searcher. We know that the title element is the core starting point for the on-page algo stuff. The meta description, while claimed to not be used by Google, is by far one of the more visible areas that you have control over. If it contains the queries you are targeting and is properly written, Google will typically "always" show your title and description over anything it may guess at.
Seriously, those two elements can make or break a site. Your 8 character branded title is going to be abused by Google's algo and maybe others once they catch up. And, that 71 character description probably isn't all that it could be. ;)
Google: Changing your site's title and description in search results
Just to clarify for readers:
I'm not really concerned about the site's rankings.
I'm actually more concerned about the drop in clicks since Google picked my title and the site's branding that's removed when Google changes the title. <-- That's the point of this thread; not the rankings.
I built the site for the visitors, not Google, and I'm not going to change the site for Google, but I might change the title Google gets ... The actual title on the home page is not likely to change.
Quick question, if you use GWT, are these areas, the title and description, showing warnings?
|We didn't detect any content issues with your site. As we crawl your site, we check it to detect any potential issues with content on your pages, including duplicate, missing, or problematic title tags or meta descriptions. These issues won't prevent your site from appearing in Google search results, but paying attention to them can provide Google with more information and even help drive traffic to your site. For example, title and meta description text can appear in search results, and useful, descriptive text is more likely to be clicked on by users. More Information |
Last updated Feb 16, 2011
@madscientist - I'm puzzled about what you're doing with the hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions of your domain name.
What's the logic for redirecting AWAY from the version which exactly matches the word you're wanting to establish as your brand name?
It's not realistic to expect Google to recognize and respect your brand name as The Most Important Thing when you're not clear about it yourself.
Humans would also benefit from more consistency than that, too.
We talked about that before we decided to do it, and it's a visual thing...
Which is easier to read and looks better / more professional?
Edited: Oops! LOL
Type them both out with the http one with the hyphen and one without ... The non-hyphenated version just doesn't look right when it's all lower case, in our opinion anyway.
I wouldn't usually go with hyphenated, but on this one it worked way better, in our opinion anyway. If the word started with an ascender, like ehow, we would have gone with non-hyphenated, but since we can't capitalize the first letter of the word in a domain name we decided host it on the hyphenated version.
We actually had it on the non-hyphenated version for about 24 hours and looked at it for a bit, then registered the hyphenated version to host it on.
ADDED: when you look at the non-hyphenated version it just doesn't read right, because your eye stops at the 3rd letter where the ascender is, and it seems like the 1st two letters should be a single sound, imo anyway.
I am seeing these title edits for the last 4-5 months on google. But I am not sure whether google is doing the right thing here.
Why is google doing this at all?
They do this not to improve the ranking of pages for which they do title edits, but to help click throughs to them.
But should google be doing this at all?
I would say NO. Many website owners may like this change, if it improves their traffic but there is also a sizeable population of "TheMadScientist" type! In this case, he wants to title his website with his brand name.Perfect, as he is the website owner and he is the best person to title his pages or website. Likewise, if he wants to call himself "TheMadScientist" on the web, that is how google should show him to the world.Google shouldn't be adding his name and telling the world "This is xyz who calls himself TheMadscientist"
Google shouldn't be doing anything at all on title edits! If a page has not been titled properly, it is the page owner's problem.He/she has to sort it out.Why should google help in this case by doing a title edit?
Well, google might argue it does this for the sake of its users.But all google has to do for the sake of its users is to rank the page correctly.Don't indulge in anything more than that.Don't try to help click throughs for a page. I know that you already do it with meta description tag and now you choose to do it to titles too! But titles are far more sensitive than descriptions and google should never change others titles.Infact, Google picks the description from the page and doesn't alter them.Why do they want to alter titles?
Google has to call TheMadScientist as TheMadScientist if he calls himselves as TheMadScientist and not because others suggest that he is TheMadScientist.
I strongly feel that Google's job has to end with ranking a page. Improving click throughs is the page owner's problem. You are already helping them with proper meta descriptions but don't mess around with titles, which are far more sensitive.
Google already has too many spams to handle and they would do well to spend their time in tackling them rather than wasting their resources by doing someone else's job.
|Maybe the rewrite algo's name is HAL2000 |
not to veer off topic, but has anyone caught the IBM Challenge on Jeopordy lately?
That Watson is one scary contestant. He's a real world HAL 9000.
"Google on Steroids?" makes you wonder how many Watson's are working at Google!
2009 Watson development: [youtube.com...]
More insights parallel to Google? [youtube.com...]
Watson in action, smoking the champs: [youtube.com...]
Just goes to show how complex super computing systems, like Google, have become.
On day, Google may TELL you it's results in it's own opinion and voice.
You can see the text "opinion" is already in the works.
Also did you notice what happened when Watson was wrong? Sometimes Watson's misses seemed absolutely brain dead, because it is just an advanced machine algorithm without fully nuanced human understanding. That means it can shift from brilliant to really dumb.
And so can Google's title rewriting algo - because human nuance is not an easy thing to program at all.
The more I examine the current results from Google, the more I seem to understand why they are not always spot on. Google appears to employing IA that is still in the learning process. Hopefully it can be kept in control of itself (where the fictitious HAL and Skynet failed). Obviously Google is no longer that lone PC tower case held together with duct tape. Sometimes we assume it is following strict rules, but now it seems to be attempting it's own thought process. If Walter is doing it, Google likely is too.
Back on topic though, I have yet to see my titles affected, but my meta descriptions have been taken from my body text for quite some time. I also nixed ODP a long time ago.
Hmmm... The talk about HAL 9000 and other AI makes me wonder if the people at Google would be at all upset if we linked to google.com using HAL 9000?
What if it improved click throughs or if other people did it, so that's what we used, or if our algo picked up comments in this forum and used those as the title instead?
Somehow I think they would have a large issue with that...
ADDED: One interesting note on the Title change by Google related the site I've been referring to is the Description some have said is too short too is not changed or added to ... Go figure.
Walter still likes his strawberry milkshake more than anything in both universes combined or separate, his own style, strawberries do not grow under UV well, nor the cows can fly, yet...
|Neither Google nor Bing has it nailed. You are not #1 in either. |
Just going back through the thread a bit, and wanted to comment on this... (Not trying to pick on you freejung, but this quote was a great example of the difference in thinking about things I'm going to try and highlight.)
You're not seeing it the way I am because you're thinking 'rankings only' which is not what I'm talking about Bing having nailed ... When you hover over the Bing info to see more they have the right info there. Nailed it.
Bing has the page title, the description and the extra info correct.
It's really interesting to me how many people seem to think rankings are the end-all and don't seem to give a thought to branding and brand development (again, not picking on you freejung, but generally) and it's starting to make more sense to me why we see so many people posting about how they've lost their income and livelihood because of a Google change... IMO that's because too many people here run a website, not a business, and, again imo, there's a big difference.
PageOneResults thinks I should change my title and description to give Google what they want; I think Google should let me brand a business website as I choose (which Bing does and Google does for some - See below) and not mess with the brand name in the title of the home page, even if that's all that's there ... We have a definite difference in opinion on what's important.
* Short titles in Google?
Search for search engine you'll see: Yahoo! (6 chars); Bing (4 chars); AltaVista (9 chars) as titles in the results.
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 3:13 am (utc) on Feb 20, 2011]
The way I see it, the serps are becoming less static. They now appear to be more fluid, perhaps based upon the users previous site visits (mood?). This makes a challenging moving target for SEO endeavors. The best you might be able to say is, I'm in the #1 position...most of the time. We knew this was coming. Didn't we?
btw - tonight the fluid part may be due to single malt scotch ;^?
Using the 'but it's not descriptive enough so Google must change it' line of thinking for Google being correct about changing the title of the page I'm referring to, how are any of the search engine titles in my previous post anywhere near as descriptive of the product offered (search) as the one I'm talking about is of what's offered on the site?
Are those who think the title I'm talking about needs to be changed by Google because it's not descriptive enough trying to say when you see or hear the name Bing as someone who doesn't know what it is you intuitively think 'search engine'? Really?
How about Yahoo! or AltaVista? How do those possibly describe a search engine to people who don't know what they are?
They don't. None of them do, but when someone searches and sees them on the results page, they know what they are and have to offer, because they are there...
If you knew what they were as an average person you probably wouldn't be searching Google for a search engine, imo, so the name in the results as the title tells people what they are.
It's a great method of branding, and Google should not mess with it, because the changes they make are not necessary. (Re-read above if you don't get it.)
Obviously, Google does not need to change the title because it's not descriptive. They choose to in only some cases. The title is actually much more descriptive of the product offered on the site I'm referring to than any of the search engine names which are 'brand only' in the results. The one I'm talking about is an abbreviation of the search terms, not a completely different word.
The logic of 'but it's not descriptive enough so Google must change it for searchers' is seriously flawed, imo ... If it was really necessary, then it would always happen, but it doesn't.
Say the name of one of those search engines above to someone who hasn't heard of them before and then tell them what they are and you could easily get, huh? But if you tell people the one I'm talking about (I know from experience) people usually say 'that makes sense' or something to that effect.
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 4:01 am (utc) on Feb 20, 2011]
|This makes a challenging moving target for SEO endeavors |
And that is why there should be no wall between SEO and business issues, such as marketing message and branding.
|PageOneResults thinks I should change my title and description to give Google what they want; I think Google should let me brand a business website as I choose |
I have a lot of sympathy with your principles, oh Mad One. I also have a lot of sympathy with knowing which battles to take on and how much traffic I can sacrifice for a principle.
Here's my practical stance. If I want guaranteed branding, that's an advertising buy and not an organic SEO battle. I do my best to line up SEO with branding, but ultimately branding support is not Google's organic purpose.
|I also have a lot of sympathy with knowing which battles to take on and how much traffic I can sacrifice for a principle. |
Yeah, and I'll make adjustments if I have to, but maybe we'll get someone at Google who's reasonable and reads through this thread and realizes if they can show Bing, Yahoo! and AltaVista as titles on the results page for search engines and visitors 'get it' then they can leave the brand name (especially when someone puts TM next to it) on the home page of sites as is and people will get that too and then they'll stop changing it.
If the whole site is www.example.com or even if the home page is www.example.com, then yes, I can understand changing it. If the entire site is BrandName or BrandName(TM), then I can understand changing the inner pages but I can't see why they have the dial set to change the home page title when it's BrandName(TM), especially when there's a noodp and noydir robots tag on the page indicating not to change the title to those either.
I don't get it, because if Bing, Yahoo! and AltaVista ,which don't have an intuitive value of search engine when seen or heard, don't need to be changed, then others don't need to be changed either.
Maybe they could give us a noalgoedit tag or something to keep the title of the home page intact at least. (I really like RobertCharleton's nomesswithme tag better, but I think noedit or noalgo or norevise would be more widely accepted.)
Anyway, I can dream, right?
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 4:25 am (utc) on Feb 20, 2011]
You have an advantage there - you know you are dreaming ;)
lol - But: If we don't dream, they never come true ;)
|PageOneResults thinks I should change my title and description to give Google what they want. |
Nah, that's not the way I work. I'm going to give the searcher what they want first, Google naturally follows. I've typically always thought of it that way and everything else just naturally comes my way.
Just fix your title and description and be done with it. Stop being that SEO client that we all dread and eventually end up firing. ;)
You've got a killer business card and logo (brand) with no tagline on it. I have no idea what it is that you do.
just for the record:
G changed the title of a page of mine completely,
and did put "appwidget - example.com" as the title
the word appwidget:
- is NOT on the page,it was for 10 years though, but not for the last 4 months
- is still part of the url
- is still in many links to the page
|If the word started with an ascender, like ehow, we would have gone with non-hyphenated, but since we can't capitalize the first letter of the word in a domain name we decided host it on the hyphenated version. |
Only from a technical perspective. When it comes to the visual e.g. in print, you can case your heart away.
I'm a little confused here. I see that eBrand is your primary focus but yet you fragment that e-Brand with a hyphenated domain. Your eBrand does not have a naturally occurring hyphen so why use one in the domain? It may look better when displayed as a URI in the SERPs but that's where it ends.
Hyphenated domains are always a little more involved from a branding perspective. That hyphen should only occur if it happens naturally. And of course you MUST have the non-hyphenated version or else you're DIW (dead in the water). Yes, I know, you have both. :)
Every other reference in that document does not use a hyphen, its only in the TLD. You're using camelCasing e.g. eBrand which is just fine. But since this whole eBrand thing is the primary focus, that hyphen in the domain sort of fragments the e-Brand name for me.
Its more of a personal preference. When you have both, it doesn't matter which one you use as long as you pick one or the other and stick with it. But, I wouldn't want to be the one that has to remember to always use a hyphen when displaying the TLD, especially when the eBrand name does not have a naturally occurring hyphen in it...
If I were to follow your eBrand use in the document, that domain when displayed visually e.g. in print, would be...
Hmmm, see the potential fragmentation and separation there? Wouldn't that just be better if it read...
TLDs are case insensitive. While they are forced lower case when being displayed as a URI in the SERPs, you can use case everywhere else for the visual.
|We actually had it on the non-hyphenated version for about 24 hours and looked at it for a bit, then registered the hyphenated version to host it on. |
What's it gonna be?
You've already chosen the TLD. Are you sure you don't want to go through and update all of the eBrand references to e-Brand so that you are consistent with the use of the e-Brand.com TLD?
And tell me, what is wrong with...
eBrandô | Three Word Tagline
Note: The insertion of the hyphen in e-Brand was just for demonstration purposes to show the potential for eBrand fragmentation.
|And tell me, what is wrong with... |
eBrandô | Three Word Tagline
What's wrong is that in the context of that particular search, when Google added the uninvited three word tagline, CTR went down.
If CTR had improved or at least stayed the same, TheMadScientist would have had less reason for frustration.
I sometimes encounter a similar issue when creating AdWords ads. It can be very effective to use dynamic keyword insertion so the ad headline echoes the user's search ... but not if too many advertisers start doing the same thing and all the ads look the same.
CTR is stronger when one's ad ... or one's SERP title ... stands out from the surroundings.
A lower ranking that gets better CTR can put just as much money in your pocket as the top position with less effective wording.
The ideal would be to achieve both, of course ... high position with effective wording.
|If I were to follow your eBrand use in the document, that domain when displayed visually e.g. in print, would be... |
No, that's the beauty of having both...
eBrand.com is just fine to use in print, because it gets people to the right place and most people I know of don't even notice the little switch we make when they type it in, so we went with looks better in the SERPs and the browser address bar to host the site.
In fact, we have it as eBrand.com in print. The site contact emails work with either too, so we can display the domain however we decide on or offline ... Basically the only place it's displayed as e-brand is in the search results and browser address bar.
When you look at it with ebrand it looks fine.
I wouldn't hyphenate it, but look where the ascender is...
Look at these though:
http://eshover.com/ could be es hover or e shover, and our name has a bit of this issue since if you start with the h it is a last name for people (meaning it's a word with or without the the s at the beginning) and the full word starting with the h stands out more unless you draw a distinction to show the s should be part of it.
http://e-shover.com/ makes it clear what the pronunciation is and where the separation of the words should be, so we show that when we can't use camelCasing to do the same thing.
|eBrandô | Three Word Tagline |
It might turn out to be that (in the Google results anyway) but I would rather just have brand name on the site, and that's probably the way it's going to stay.
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 2:58 pm (utc) on Feb 20, 2011]
|What's wrong is that in the context of that particular search, when Google added the uninvited three word tagline, CTR went down. |
If CTR had improved or at least stayed the same, TheMadScientist would have had less reason for frustration.
Yep, absolutely ... I know the SEPRs and I can make my own adjustments for click improvement if they leave it alone. I can't do that when they change it.
|CTR is stronger when one's ad ... or one's SERP title ... stands out from the surroundings. |
The title I have on the site jumps straight off the page on Bing.
The title Google put on the site blends right in.
Why do you think I put the TM in it? It wasn't because it's absolutely necessary; look at the Bing results and you'll know ... It JUMPS off the page in Bing's SERPs.
Did you people notice at how the lifehacker article was a total misfit for the search that we discuss here.
I don't even know from where google picked up that first word of the two word search.I am not seeing it anywhere on their page, but google shows it in the meta description!
Even if that word were to appear on the page, this result was not at all relevant.There are other domains below lifehacker and they are equally bad results! (Except for the first two all the remaining four above this site are not relevant at all!)
This is a good example for us and google folks to understand why people get so frustrated with google results these days.
Google in this case has picked up that first word from somewhere on those documents and being authority sites, they rank ahead of the relevant one with just one of those keywords (the second one) in the title!
These days I often see high authority sites being given this kind of preferential treatment by google for a number of two+ keyword searches like this, even if they are totally irrelevant!
G stopped displaying our title as Brand Logo after I replaced the logo image alt text with a more descriptive sentence.
Rather than displaying the correct title Brand - description of services it is now using the brand name only. Not a problem...
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