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Google changing homepage title to domain name

 1:01 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

The title of the homepage is displayed by google as domain name. Example:if the domain is widget.com and the title is perfecty targeted on the content, if you search for widget.com or just by domain name, widget, google will return the homapege titled as widget no matter what your title is. A second observation is that only the homepage is returned, while for other domains it returns the homepage and the next 2-3 pages from the same domain. There are some moments of the day when it displays it correctly but then it also shows the next 2-3 pages from the domain. The domain is also at the moment penalized since the penguin update and I removed all backlinks i was in control of.
What could be the reason ?



 7:23 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

The page may not even be crawled at this point in time. It sounds like what we see when Google only knows about a page because of backlinks.

Is there some technical issue that is stopping a full crawl and index here, possibly a robots.txt error or a robots meta tag noindex on the page itself?

Robert Charlton

 8:24 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

The page may not even be crawled at this point in time.

If that's the case (and the explanation sounds plausible), then the symptom resembles what happens when robots.txt blocks a site but Google sees backlinks and returns the reference. The robots meta noindex tag, on the other hand, would be keeping the url out of the index as well.

There are some moments of the day when it displays it correctly but then it also shows the next 2-3 pages from the domain.

This suggests that the site may be indexed in one data center but not in others. Perhaps you were doing recent work on the server and messed up the robots.txt, and the site has been removed from most but not all centers. Is this a possibility?


 8:44 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

jemois your not alone.

Recently I also had the dreaded message at GWT about back links.

As of yesterday my website is showing domain only if I search for domain name or it's main keyword phrase which is the domain name.

With the same query search it is showing inner page names as the title replacing what is there, for example: /blue.html will show blue as the title, very strange.

Site is 5 years old, always ranked top for it's keywords. In the last few days it has practically gone from all its top positions.

robots.txt is valid and not the issue.


 11:02 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

1. As i first noticed this, it was after the site got penalized. It probably depends on the DC used but it sometimes shows the homepage with the domain used as title along with a second page from the domain which uses the category as title and not the original title specified in the title tag. To be more specific, the site is about widgets from all over the world and the main navigation showing on all pages consists of a list of all countries in the world. If you search for domain.com or just domain, the first result is the homepage with the title "domain" and the second page is a category page showing as title the country name, for example "Austria" even if the original title is "Widgets from Austria".

2. The main navigation has as ahref title the country name, for example "Austria", so it is possible that Google shows the category name as it is linked in the navigation. I have to mention that i use the <nav> tag for Google to better recognize the structure of the page and also use microdata breadcrumbs like Home->Austria->Blue Widgets.

3. Google might use the domain name as brand name, since it doesn't include specific keywords in it and it really sounds like a company or brand name.

4. Analyzing the main competitors, i noticed the same thing, even if their pages are not penalized, which is new to me, since i thought that Google uses the domain name as homepage title only for penalized pages.

5. Analyzing other domains is other niches is irrelevant since Google might use this way of showing the categories in the serp only for specific niches.

Conclusion for now: There are 2 possibilities: Google is showing domain as title of the homepage for penalized domains which contradicts with the main competitors showing the same in serp OR Google is improving the way they read the structure of page showing it more clearly to the users.

@tedster, Robert Charlton
The domain is about 10 months old and was crawled very often until the 24 of April. Anyway, since then, the homepage in google serp is not more than 3-4 days old so crawling is not the problem. There is no message about unnatural backlinks in WMT, robots.txt is ok blocking only bad bots, title tags, h1...etc are ok, so there is no issue at all. Everything is programmed by myself, no CMS is used. Another strange thing is that looking at the cache date it shows for example 25 May 2012, but the image preview is more recent showing the changes i made to the page on 30 May 2012. As far as i've investigated, the penalty is probably related with the sitewide links i had to this domain on all other domains i manage, about 9, since there are 412 domains pointing to this one, so spammy links from 3rd party owners doesn't seem to appear in order to be considered a problem.


 4:43 pm on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

i thought that Google uses the domain name as homepage title only for penalized pages.

Definitely not the case. The algorithm that Google uses for changing or replacing the title element is quite complex, but it relies strongly on the original query terms and what they feel will attract more clicks for that particular query.

Penalty or not isn't a key part of the decision as I see it. If title substitution does at times seem to correlate with some kind of title change, that would be Google accidentally tipping their cards. In other words, it's an unintentional artifact of the way Google is currently processing data and it's nothing you can depend on.


 4:51 pm on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

the same thing started happening on my domain in the past 24 hours. When I search example.com or example, both return "example" as the title. My site was Penguinized on April 24, but this phenomenon just started.


 7:14 pm on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your answer.

If you search for domain.com or just domain you are surely looking for that brand/company so google is changing the title of the homepage to the domain name which is in most cases the name or the brand/company. It makes sense.
I tried various searches and the way the title is altered depends on the query keyword. If you search for "domain.com some homepage title keywords" the shown title will be the original one in most cases.
The same happens with internal pages. I think that the sites were google does this have a clear navigation hierarchy and google also understands what niche the page is about.


 6:52 pm on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

as of today, when I perform the search "mydomain" the full title is now showing, whereas for the past month or so it was showing just "mydomain". I am not sure if this is a prelude to better rankings ahead, or why it was being truncated in the first place. I have noticed that my ranking is gradually being restored on certain phrases (very phrase specific).

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