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For larger database-driven sites, like product aggregators, hand-written descriptions can be impossible. In the latter case, however, programmatic generation of the descriptions can be appropriate and are encouraged. Good descriptions are human-readable and diverse, as we talked about in the first point above. The page-specific data we mentioned in the second point is a good candidate for programmatic generation. Keep in mind that meta descriptions comprised of long strings of keywords don't give users a clear idea of the page's content, and are less likely to be displayed in place of a regular snippet.
Specifically, if I have an article with a title of three words or less, Google will often append the title of the site's home page to get its SERPs title.
Brand your titles, but concisely. The title of your site's home page is a reasonable place to include some additional information about your siteófor instance, "ExampleSocialSite, a place for people to meet and mingle." But displaying that text in the title of every single page on your site hurts readability and will look particularly repetitive if several pages from your site are returned for the same query. In this case, consider including just your site name at the beginning or end of each page title, separated from the rest of the title with a delimiter such as a hyphen, colon, or pipe...
aristotle, can you see any patterns to those title changes? In other words, what kinds of titles seem to trigger the changes which are not productive for the keywords where Google uses them?
Anybody got any thoughts on whether to include business name/ domain in title?
Once we know the userís query, we can often find alternative text from a page that better explains why that result is relevant. Using this alternative text as a title helps the user, and it also can help your site.
When I modified some page titles and shortened them Google responded by using my new title AND they also added my domain name to the end of the title that showed in the serps.
...[brand name in title]..any real positive benefit rankings-wise?
I think it's unethical for Google to impose its own titles on an author's articles.
Were your shortened page titles an exact match for the search term
and were there any other pages in the SERPs with the same title ?
It is tempting to do, of course, but if implemented one shouldn't complain for having made that serp rename possible
... for instance, "ExampleSocialSite, a place for people to meet and mingle." But displaying that text in the title of every single page on your site hurts readability ... In this case, consider including just your site name at the beginning or end of each page title, separated from the rest of the title with a delimiter such as a hyphen, colon, or pipe, like this: <title>ExampleSocialSite: Sign up for a new account.</title>