Recently a client asked why their page titles were not being used in the search results by Google. For those of you who may not know exactly what a page title is, it is in your page’s source code and looks like this: <title>This is my page title</title> and is the most important piece of on-page SEO on your site. Usually site owners take time to craft a title to help their keywords rankings and/or to help attract searchers when this title is displayed in Google’s search results. Below is an image of Google’s search results for the search term “Create a Website Sitemap for SEO” and you can see our blog post for the top results with the title we chose.
But sometimes Google decides to change the title they display in their search results. Why does Google change your page title? Quite simple, Google thinks it knows better, and Google probably does. Here is one explanation from a Google rep, “Often a single title might not be the best one to show for all queries for a page, so our algorithms may generate alternative titles to make it easier for our users to recognize relevant pages.”
You can find more information about Google choosing a better page title here.
A snippet from this page gives some more insight, “Our testing has shown that these alternative titles are generally more relevant to the query and can substantially improve the click-through rate to the result, helping both our searchers and webmasters.”
So don’t fret when your title in the Google search results does not match the title on your page, Google is trying to help by showing a more relevant title to help you increase your traffic. You should still always try to craft the the best page title you can, regardless if Google will try to fix it for you later.