aristotle - 7:26 pm on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)
But I think what you're actually trying to say is that Google is changing the title of the returned page to match the user's query even if you have a different page whose title exactly matches that query already. Is that correct?
No, that isn't correct. What I said is what I meant.
Is your title tag punctuation HTML encoded, or plain?
Could they be barfing on the question mark in some way?
Are there any HTML validation errors at any point whatsoever before the opening <body> tag?
1. The title tags on all my pages are in standard form: <title>Page title in plain text</title>
2. As best I remember, none of my page titles contain question marks.
3. All of my pages pass W3C html and css validation with no errors.
-- When Google first started altering page titles in the SERPs, Matt Cutts (or someone at Google) said that it was being done to make the title more relevant to the search term and thereby increase CTR. But actually it usually does the opposite.
P.S. I just noticed that Bing does exactly the same thing (appending the dash mark and home page title) for most pages on my two biggest sites. That's really a strange coincidence. Hmm ...