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Changing title tags and meta description... effects on ranking

     
4:09 am on Sep 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Would you change/improve title tag and meta descriptiom of old articles to increase CTR?
Can it eventually improve Google ranking?
How doing these changes affect ranking at the short and long terms?

Any experience ?
Please advise
7:36 pm on Oct 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google is moving away from using the title tag & meta description and moving towards dynamically generating that information. This is why I care less about it than I did years ago. I've had some bad experiences with too many adjustments. I suspect Google might assume its an SEO making changes & intentionally give bad rankings. They filed a patent for something like that a while ago.
6:00 am on Oct 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your answer.
Do you have in case a link to this Google patent?
6:21 am on Oct 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The importance of keywords has dropped significantly. The AI algo gleans the intent of the user from many metrics, not just what terms they searched for.

This is customized for each user. Some, but not all, factors playing a role are: search history, click-through history, bounce rate, browser, OS, device, geo region, language, login status.

This is why doing keyword searches for terms in page titles or meta description tags to see where your site ranks is virtually useless now. All you see is your own customized results, not what others see.
7:30 am on Oct 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think it can be worthwhile to tweak titles to improve clickthroughs, especially if you've made the mistake of loading them up with keywords in the past. A user is more likely to click on "Red Widgets - Mysitename" than "Red widgets thingamabobs items whatsits buy purchase dealer."

Think of it as editorial or user optimization, not search-engine optimization. It's certainly in tune with Google's Webmaster Guidelines, which suggest asking yourself ""Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
7:41 am on Oct 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Would you change/improve title tag and meta descriptiom of old articles to increase CTR?

Increase, not necessarily, but of course a title can have an impact on CTR. After all, this is what a user is seeing, and part of the decision to click or not.

Can it eventually improve Google ranking?

Improve or downgrade. Same remark, yes it can have an impact on the ranking. A higher CTR, without a higher bounce rate can contribute (more or less) to the ranking factors.
9:18 am on Oct 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Mod's note: Changing title of this thread from...

Changing title tags and meta description affection on ranking

to...
Changing title tags and meta description... effects on ranking


PS: This change is for grammatical reasons, and has nothing to do with SEO.

11:28 am on Oct 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Can't remember if its this patent or an earlier one - [patft.uspto.gov...]
2:25 pm on Oct 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I've had some bad experiences with too many adjustments. I suspect Google might assume its an SEO making changes & intentionally give bad rankings. They filed a patent for something like that a while ago.

goodroi, the patent you mention, #8,244,722, is largely the one I'm familiar with... It was researched by Bill Slawski and discussed at length in this forum. There is another patent I believe that Bill also mentions in the discussion....

Google's Rank Modifying Patent for Spam Detection
Aug-Sept, 2012
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4486158.htm [webmasterworld.com]

As you described, too many adjustments will trigger it off. If site changes or new links look suspicious to Google, Google would throttle the expected ranking boosts, which became drops instead, to see what site owners did. Too many adjustments, too much fiddling, was assumed as intent to spam, and would result in a longish penalty. It's an insidious penalty.

With less emphasis on titles, I'm not sure how sensitive they are to fiddling penalties. They are surprisingly unnaffected by certain kinds of change. More about titles later. (We just had a power outage, so I'll have to rewrite that material later.)

11:27 pm on Oct 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Currently 30% of search queries are answered via AI, which is matching the words in a search query to topics and also matching web pages with topics, just with the text (meaning that anchor text and links don't come into play at this stage of the ranking process), but without focusing on keywords, but rather, dealing with the larger concepts inherent in the content.

It minimizes the importance of keywords in titles and headings somewhat, while making the meaning of the entire content, whether sections of a page or the entire web page, more important.

Good luck,
;)

Roger Montti
1:25 am on Oct 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Your old stuff will still be old stuff even if you fiddle with it.

Concentrate on the NEW STUFF and leave the rest alone. These days old stuff does not easily improve UNLESS THE CONTENT ITSELF is improved.

Find other things in which to invest your time and effort.

Or ... more realistically: "let sleeping dogs lie ..."
8:40 am on Oct 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Concentrate on the NEW STUFF and leave the rest alone. These days old stuff does not easily improve UNLESS THE CONTENT ITSELF is improved.
There's nothing wrong with improving "old stuff" (or merely updating it, depending on the material and the topic, as needed). Some of our most popular pages--and the biggest recipients of Google traffic--date back to the late 1990s. I fact-check and, if necessary, update them several times a year to keep them current. The process typically takes only a few minutes.

Remember, too, that the OP was asking about clickthroughs, not just rankings. If you've got a decently-ranked page with a lousy title and people are skipping over it for more clickworthy search results, you're leaving traffic and money on the table.
3:27 pm on Oct 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Change titles for an EDITING reason, not chasing SEO. Meta does not have the power it once did, put efforts elsewhere. Updating is not the same as fiddling to improve clickthrus.

If the url does NOT change then g will still the page as the same, even if significant updates have occurred.

But correcting an Editor Mistake in a title is quite logical to do, and should be done.
4:06 pm on Oct 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It is written in the Google patent:
" META tags stuffing involves the use of a large set of keywords in the META tags on a page, where the keywords typically do not relate to the content of the page. META tags stuffing attempts to make the page appear relevant for a wide range of search queries even though the content of the page is not very relevant, or irrelevant, to the search queries. "

That's not what I meant to do. I wanted to trigger the reader/searcher intention to the content by writing more focused Meta Description.
As for the title tags, after thinking and reading here above, I don't see a reason to change the titles.

By the way, the articles are ever-green and receive traffic for many years.

I am still not sure if it worth the effort.
5:01 pm on Oct 3, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Changing the content of <title> tags is only meaningful if Google has stopped making up new page titles, as was discussed a few years back. (Quick site search turns up threads ranging from 2012--longer ago than I thought--to 2017.) If they’re still doing it, why bother to change? Your title may not even be what searchers see.
6:47 am on Oct 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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"Changing the content of <title> tags is only meaningful if Google has stopped making up new page titles"
What about the Meta Description ?
6:52 am on Oct 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What about the Meta Description
Pretty much useless for Google SERP. If your page Titles are being created by Google, the snippet will be from your relevant content, not your Meta tag.

However, other services use your Meta Descriptions, example: Facebook, Google Plus, other SEs, etc.
7:29 am on Oct 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Changing the content of <title> tags is only meaningful if Google has stopped making up new page titles, as was discussed a few years back....If they’re still doing it, why bother to change? Your title may not even be what searchers see.

Or it may be exactly what searchers see. Given how easy it is to tweak a title, why throw away an opportunity?

Side note: The titles that I see for our pages in Google are the titles that I've written, sometimes with the name of the site appended if I've neglected to include it. (Maybe Google is more inclined to rewrite titles that are a jumble of stuffed keywords?)
7:36 am on Oct 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The titles that I see for our pages in Google are the titles that I've written, sometimes with the name of the site appended...
As are mine, but I've seen Google rewrite page Titles many times as described above. Bing does it also.
6:49 pm on Oct 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As are mine, but I've seen Google rewrite page Titles many times as described above. Bing does it also.

Sure, but there are also many, many cases where the search engines *don't* rewrite titles. That's why it makes sense to write titles that will appeal to searchers, instead of shrugging and surrendering to people who understand that clicks (not just rankings) are what take searchers to a page.
3:57 pm on Oct 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It seems the replies have focused on the priority Google places on the tags vs. the reason the change is being made. The original question referenced making changes on "old articles to increase CTR".
I would want to know more about the old articles. First, are they weeks, months, or years old? Was the content posted without SEO consideration and is now being re-evaluated, were the tags misaligned or accidentally duplicated form another page, or is the page's traffic eroding recently and the hope is to bring it back? Maybe the traffic loss is due to a loss of ranking.
If we are sure it is a CTR issue, is it possible new or expanded rich snippets have recently been added to the SERP? I'd ask if this content is still relevant. First, investigate the issue to see if it is traffic loss or a CTR drop. There have been a number of algo changes recently that may be impacting page performance that no changes to META tags will fix.
 

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