We all know classic titles in the search results like “New Page 1”, “Untitled Document” or simply just “Home”, these are titles for which Google could decide to replace with a more descriptive title. In a blog post Webmaster Trends Analyst Pierre Far explains the reasons why Google might replace the original title of a page in the search results with an own generated title.
Normally titles have to be unique and need to describe what the content of a page is about in 70 characters max. But even if a single title is written the right way it’s not always the best one for all search queries. That’s why in some cases Google uses algorithms to decide if a title is good enough or if it’s better to replace it with a alternative title that’s more relevant to the query.
Google says their own tests have proven adjusting titles can substantially improve the click through rate, which is better for users and for webmasters (read: traffic).
Another reason why Google could replace the title is because there is no title, or at least not a descriptive one like “Untitled Document” mentioned above. Also there are webmasters who copy the title for every page so it’s the same all the time or they just use minor variations. Unnecessarily long or hard-to-read titles are also replaced by Google.
Even today many webmasters don’t pay attention to titles. When performing a search for “Untitled Document” there are 60,100,000 results! “New Page 1” gives me more than 7 million results. But when you look at the results you can also see that Google replaced some titles (some better than other).
If you use Google Webmaster Tools you can check if your titles are in good shape by going to Diagnostics, HTML Suggestions. Here you see pages that don’t have titles, duplicate titles, long, short and Non-informative titles.