Google’s John Mueller confirms a webpage’s original title will still be used for ranking purposes even when it’s replaced in SERPs.
This is stated during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on September 3, 2021.
A question is asked regarding the recent page title update, which replaces titles for select pages with text Google considers more relevant.
A concerned SEO wants to know if the initial title will be used for rankings if it’s not shown in search results.
Here is Mueller’s response.
Google’s John Mueller on the Page Title Update
In response to being asked if original titles are relevant for rankings, Mueller confirms that’s currently the case though it could change in the future.
If your original title targets an important keyword, and that keyword isn’t featured in Google’s replacement, rest assured it’s still being used by Google’s search ranking algorithms.
“Yes. At least that’s the way it is at the moment. You never know how these things evolve over time, but at least at the moment it is the case that we continue to use what you have in your title tag, in your title element, as something that we can use for ranking.
It’s not like something that replaces everything for the website, but it is a factor that we use in there. Even if when we display the title for your page we swap out maybe that one keyword that you care about, we would still use that for ranking.”
A question that has come up a lot following the rollout of the page title update is whether websites should change their titles to the ones Google chooses.
Mueller says no, that’s not recommended. Google’s replacements aren’t superior titles by default, nor will they necessarily improve rankings if they were coded into the website.
Considering what we know now about original titles being used by Google’s search algorithms, removing them may adversely affect your rankings.
Mueller addresses this misconception:
“The other question that I always get around the titles is: “Should I change my titles to be what Google has chosen? Because obviously Google knows better.”
And the answer is no. These are algorithms that are looking at things and trying to figure things out but you know your site best. You know your users best. So I would not blindly follow what Google’s algorithms are doing.
Maybe there are cases where google’s algorithms give you good ideas, and that’s fantastic. But I would not blindly follow that.”
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.