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Title in SERPS replaced by link anchor

   
10:21 pm on Aug 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



How common is this?

I have a page (blog post) that gets plenty of links to it. Naturally, most of the links are simply the URL of the page. When I search for the subject matter of the page, it comes up somewhere in the middle of page one but the title of the SERP link is the anchor of the link, which, in turn is just a part of the URL of the page. As it is a URL, it does not look very pretty and I'm sure gets a dismal CTR.

Does anyone know if there's a way to prevent this behavior?

And a more widely targeted question: do you guys think that the era of "prettifying" one's URLs is over? What I mean by that, I'm almost sure Google would not make "?page=1234" a title of their SERP but it happily makes "widget-type-color" (a prettified URL) a title, even if there's an actual title "Using Type Widgets Of a Certain Color".

Additionally, perhaps more importantly, I am finding that a page almost never (I'd say "never" but there might always be exception which I haven't found yet) ranks for the exact anchor text in its links. I think it's by design to discourage KW-rich anchors. Again, since vast majority of the (naturally acquired) anchors are simply URL, then by converting the title of the page into the URL you're eliminating the possibility of this page ranking for what this page is about! Sounds very counter-productive.

So, what's the current thinking about prettifying URLs, specifically converting titles into URLs?
10:14 pm on Aug 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Google has been rewriting titles for quite some time which can be very frustrating. If you google for:

google rewriting titles site:webmasterworld.com

you will find many posts on this subject in this forum, discussing many different ways on how titles are rewritten.

but the title of the SERP link is the anchor of the link, which, in turn is just a part of the URL of the page

Is the title in SERPs written as it is in URL (including connecting hyphens) or it just takes words from the URL?

And a more widely targeted question: do you guys think that the era of "prettifying" one's URLs is over? What I mean by that, I'm almost sure Google would not make "?page=1234" a title of their SERP but it happily makes "widget-type-color" (a prettified URL) a title, even if there's an actual title "Using Type Widgets Of a Certain Color".


It seems that you wish to revert to dynamic URLs in order to stop Google rewriting your titles. I personally would not do this - there are many other benefits of having pretty URLs rather than dynamic, and I am not talking here about having keyword rich URLs in link anchor.

They make more sense to the user, and they also help with issue of potentially having infinite URL space because of how parameters are handled within URLs.
12:21 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



but the title of the SERP link is the anchor of the link, which, in turn is just a part of the URL of the page

Is that what the visible text in the linking page says? Or is the search engine replacing the linking text with the content of the <a href> hiding behind it?

If the page itself just has your raw URL, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. Unless you want to contact the linker and asking them to please replace "see <a href = "http://www.example.com/abc/def/1234.html">www.example.com/abc/def/1234.html</a>" with "see <a href = "http://www.example.com/abc/def/1234.html">the world's leading authority on widgets</a>".
3:27 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Hi guys, thanks for your input. I will not revert to dynamic on existing pages for sure but was wondering if prettifying might be a little counterproductive for SEO purposes for future pages because it (appears to) inhibit the ability of the page to rank for the exact title phrase (i.e. the phrase that sums up what the pages is about - would have been a perfect phrase to rank for)

As far as the mechanics of what's happening, I have to explain better:

The page has a <title> tag of Using Type Widgets Of a Certain Color
its URL is http://www.example.com/widgets/widget-type-color-345.html
Google shows widget-type-color (with hyphens!) as the title of the SERP listing. It's a verbatim [part of] the URL but nowhere in the actual <title> tags. The only HTML it could have come from, in my opinion, is the anchor text of most links which is almost always just the URL. The phrase as-is (not to mention hyphens) does not appear anywhere on the page.
11:53 am on Aug 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Hmmm.. I have not seen this yet. Is there a particular set of queries you can isolate for which this rewriting is done? If so, does the page <title> displays once you change the query?

Basically, I am wondering if you can figure out the pattern where this title rewriting happens and then tweak the title to perhaps include the missing word or something, and in that way to try to avoid Google replacing your title.