While search isn’t strictly social it is certainly one of the reasons we do social, to increase search performance and productivity. Matt Cutts, Google’s chief of spam, recently addressed an issue about the title tag, aka <title>, that many people aren’t even aware happens. If you have ever searched for your own content and seen a different title appear in the search listings then you know it happens, but maybe did not know how or why. You’re about to know both!
My favorite example for this one is the good old default “Home” or “Home Page” title tag. I recently picked up a client who does BBQ (very awesome BBQ by the way, and I am a Q-snob) and I noticed the title tag on their home page said “HOME”. Ouch, and they paid good money for that “professionally developed” website. But, I digress. When I find them in Google, however, the title in the listing is not “HOME”, but rather the name of the company which has BBQ in it. A few years ago this would not have been the case and Google would simply have published the word “HOME” in the search listings.
Today there is a different method and it is because Google takes a little liberty and re-writes the page title to better reflect the content of the page. Since they are in the business of selling search results as their product this is simply a matter of packaging. According to Matt the title needs to be a concise description of the page which is also relevant to the query. The criteria for which is:
- Short in length
- Good description of page AND site
- Relevant to the search
How do you feel about Google re-writing titles to meet their own packaging needs? Here’s Matt, please comment below.