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Google changed titles are helping category pages
Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4327145
 2:02 am on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I noticed, on a competitors site, that Google is changing the title of some of his category pages depending on my search query. It looks like Google is choosing the title to match articles within. My search was a "site:example.com/category keyword" search.

In looking more closely the site uses movable type as a CMS and the default category title is simply the index page title repeated. He has no unique category titles. Talk about turning a negative into a positive, now his category pages have unlimited titles based on keyword searched for.

I backed out and searched for the google-given titles and sure enough the categories are top 10 for almost every search. Don't give a unique title = get a lot of titles as a gift ?

 

tedster




msg:4327147
 2:07 am on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Don't give a unique title = get a lot of titles as a gift ?

I've been tempted to do this with some clients whose back-end makes it very challenging to dynamically generate good titles. I have done it for description snippets, but they don't impact rankings so I'm more comfortable letting go of the controls to Google in that case.

deadsea




msg:4327292
 12:05 pm on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm also trying to figure out how to take advantage of this. This appears that Google is trying to let pages rank well for a variety of closely related phrases. Up until this year, best practice has been to create one page per phrase. Now it looks like you can somehow make a single page rank for multiple phrases. I'm still trying to get my wheels under me as to what you specifically need to do to make this happen.

I think that Google is probably implementing this based on the medical field. If you search for the full name of a condition then you get a very good result set from reputable sites. If you search for variations, the reputable sites aren't launching pages at each of the variations and you get more shallow content in the SERPs.

My theories:
1) Use multiple keywords in the title ala "phrase one - another wording - third way" A couple years ago this really didn't work. Only the first phrase in the title seemed to matter, but I want to test it again.
2) Have a variety of internal anchor text pointing into the page.
3) Have a variety of external anchor text pointing into the page.
4) Launch the same content (or similar content) on multiple pages with different title optimizations, use the canonical tag back to the page you want to have rank for all the phrases.

tedster




msg:4327639
 2:48 am on Jun 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

This appears that Google is trying to let pages rank well for a variety of closely related phrases.

Yed, indeed. The art of semantic indexing is trumping text match, more and more. I wonder if the recently improved targeting of some Google search traffic is somehow related (at least correlated) to the increased complexity of the title/description rewriting that Google is doing.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4327657
 4:43 am on Jun 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, indeed. The art of semantic indexing is trumping text match, more and more.


Absolutely, I'm seeing it right now. As for descriptions I've left old content alone but I'm saving some writing time by allowing my site to repeat the title as description. I used to provide keywords too but I've removed those completely on my personal blog and nothing negative happened. It saves me some time honestly, and makes it more fun to write again.

You know what I'd like to see? 100% of my time spent writing and 0% spent on doing things to please a search engine. Now that would be something!

I think we're very near the title tag being as useful as the keyword tag, at least with Google. It's being treated as a suggestion only, especially if it's product based and not opinion based.

- Big Red Widgets = out.
- I just ate the most amazing big red widget at such and such = in.

From Google's point of view the title is probably something like "big red widgets, great, what do YOU say about them that 100 other sites don't? Nothing? Going with just big red widgets as a title? Ok, no rank for you, next!". I'm sure it's not that simple but hey.

If titles are less meaningful anchor text can't be too far behind, nor can anything else we write besides the content and the site subject.

tedster




msg:4327661
 5:31 am on Jun 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I just saw an outrageous example of the art of semantics in Search Suggestions.

I typed in [kw1 kw2 with kw3] and one of the suggestions was [synonym1 kw2 without synonym3] - 3 out of 4 words were transformed, and yet the Suggestion was a really good query for what I was looking for.

I don't want to take this thread away from its main topic, so I started another thread
about the semantic changes at Google: Google's Semantic Processing Is Getting Very Savvy [webmasterworld.com]


Google is trying to let pages rank well for a variety of closely related phrases. Up until this year, best practice has been to create one page per phrase. Now it looks like you can somehow make a single page rank for multiple phrases.

I think its time to revisit ideas such as co-occurrence and phrase-based indexing. And also to walk away from the "one page per phrase" approach. I even wonder if "one page per phrase" might soon (or even already?) be the subject of some ranking demotions. It smells kind of like eHow, you know?

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4327700
 8:44 am on Jun 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was just thinking the same thing. Sites full of pages with exact match keyword terms but little variance might be receiving extra scrutiny. You can't penalize them all because some really good sites had an SEO that took that rout but good content gets other signals, social signals etc. Go exact match? Better have gumption to back it up with!

I can confirm that DESCRIPTION restructuring by Google is not guaranteed, at least not right away. I found several examples of keyword based titles showing up top 10 in serps where one of the two had it's description re-written but the other did not. Both had their titles repeated as descriptions on site. I don't know if it takes age or pagerank or something else entirely to receive special title/description treatment, time for more testing.

edit: in the end just make the best site you can, good content will always float, right?

tedster




msg:4327802
 4:46 pm on Jun 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

in the end just make the best site you can, good content will always float, right?

LOL! - in a utopia, maybe. But even with some occasional "sinking", this is still the most viable strategy I see, even if it sometimes does bang into problems. After all, Google is just a means, a channel - they're not the whole game by a long shot.

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