aristotle - 2:18 pm on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)
For some time I've been annoyed by Google's policy of sometimes showing an altered page title in their listing of the search results. I'm annoyed because their new title is nearly always illogical and inappropriate, and therefore less likely to be clicked.
But now the situation has gotten even worse, because they've started showing altered titles even when my chosen title exactly matches the search term!
For example, suppose my chosen page title is "Antique Widgets" and my home page title is "All Abut Widgets". When someone searches for "antique widgets" [without quotes], then the title that Google displays in the SERPs is:
Antique Widgets -- All About Widgets
In other words, Google appends a dash mark followed by the title of the home page. So even though my original title exactly natches the search terms, Google still changes it.
Google has recently started doing this for most of the pages on both of my two biggest sites. There is no doubt in my mind that this results in fewer clicks and less traffic.
When I created my websites, I carefully chose each page title to accurately reflect what the page is about. Google's policy of changing them is irresponsible and unjustly harmful to my sites.