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Title Tags are a Tiny Ranking Factor



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Google’s John Mueller, in a YouTube Office-hours hangout, answered a question regarding title tags and search rankings. He addressed whether title tag rewriting impacts rankings and also what effect adding the company name to the beginning, end or at all has on rankings.

Mueller also described the title tag as a tiny search ranking factor.

Search Ranking Impact of Page and Titles Don’t Match

The person asking the question wanted to know if there was a ranking impact when titles are rewritten.

This is the question about title tags and ranking:

“How does it affect the search rankings when page and search titles don’t match?

Often we experience that the page title has been shortened and our company name added to the search results title.

We do add our company name to the end sometimes but the concern is that this is to all our page title and will limit how much we can write in the title.

So the question is really is it better to have shortened titles that can be displayed in the search results or is it better to keep the page titles we have already and let Google choose a different title?”

Google’s John Mueller Discussing Title Element and Rankings

Google title element and rankings

How to Write Title Tags

The focus of the question is how to write title tags and a concern about whether or not to have the company name, which could take up most of the space.


Mueller answered:

“I don’t think there is any explicit, “what is better” from our side.”

Mueller next noted that the title tag is a “tiny” ranking factor and that the focus of writing a title tag should be on making it relevant to what the page is about.

Mueller continued his answer:

“One of the things I think is worthwhile to keep in mind is we do use titles as a tiny factor in our rankings as well.

So it’s something where I wouldn’t necessarily make titles on your pages that are totally irrelevant.”

Mueller then made a reference to an answer from the same hangout about how to fix title tags that are rewritten by Google (read How to Fix Google Title Tag Rewrites).

He said:

“But you can try different things out, kind of like I mentioned before.”

Page is What is Used for Ranking

John Mueller next said that the web page is what is used for ranking purposes. He also said that whether or not the company name is used in the beginning or end of the title tag is a personal choice and he minimized any potential impact on rankings based on that choice.

Mueller explained:


“It’s not a critical issue if the title that we show in the search results (we call these title links nowadays), if that doesn’t match what is on your page, from our point of view that’s perfectly fine.

And we use what you have on your page when it comes to search.

So from that point of view it’s like you can put the things
in your title tag on your pages and maybe we’ll show that, maybe we’ll tweak that a little bit.

But essentially your page is what we use as a basis for the rankings.

And with regards to the company name or not, I think that’s a little bit up to you and a little bit also in our algorithms as well in that we do see that users like to have an understanding of the bigger picture of where does this page fit and sometimes a company name or a brand name for the website makes sense to show there.

Some people choose to put it in the beginning or in the end, some people have different kinds of separators that they use.

From my point of view I think that’s more a matter of personal taste and decoration rather than anything related to how ranking would work.”

Title Tag as a Ranking Factor

The search industry is largely in agreement that content is the most important factor, with title tags making it in there as part of the group known as on-page (as opposed to meta content which is not seen by users).

It doesn’t diminish the title tag status as a ranking factor to say it is a tiny ranking factor.


The fact that we 100% know for certain that the title element is a ranking factor makes it important because when it comes to Google search ranking factors there are very few things that are known as a certainty.

Search Engine Journal published a list of top ranking factors and the title tag made it as part of the on-page factors group.

Most surveys on top ranking factors include title tags as a top ranking factor and with good reason, because it is a ranking factor.

John Mueller characterizes it as a tiny ranking factor, which is an observation that some in the SEO industry might not agree with.

At one time, fifteen to twenty years ago, the title tag was a huge ranking factor. Failure to dump your keywords in the title tag would essentially doom the site to not be eligible to rank.

But like many things from fifteen to twenty years ago, that advice is outdated. Nowadays Google ranks websites that don’t have the exact keywords in the title tags.

Many in the search industry realize this and have adjusted their estimation of title tag impact accordingly.

Nevertheless, there are certain SEO beliefs that are tightly held on to and the belief that the title tag is a critical ranking factor is one of those beliefs.


But it’s important to learn where those beliefs came from and how long ago and to be be ready to adapt ones beliefs to conform to the reality expressed in the search results.


Title Tags are a Tiny Ranking Factor

Watch Mueller talk about title tags at the 15:35 Minute Mark

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”



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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.



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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.


But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.


One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.


Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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