Google Rewrites Page Titles To Push Brand Over Keywords

The Google+ expert, Mark Traphagen tweeted a link to an article that talked about how Google seemed to be testing yet another method of rewriting the page title, or that somehow, colons in the title could be a new ranking factor. Other Twitter people reported seeing it as early as Friday.

Now, we’ve known for a long time that they’ll craft a new page title if they think what’s there isn’t relevant enough. That’s nothing new. But, to explicitly pull out a brand name and put that in front of everything else is certainly new, and much bigger than just a test. Take, for example, our own site.

Page title in HTML.

Here’s the title in the current HTML.

Page title in SERP

Here’s the page title as it appears in the SERPs.

I’ve had discussions as early as two years ago about how brand would be extremely important in the SERPs; even back then it was pretty clear when they started automatically segmenting B2C-centric results by brands. At the time, those happened to be major brands. Now, that’s not a direct connection to this particular issue, but it was certainly indicative of where their mindset was, and where they’d be headed in the future.

So, should you start re-crafting all of your page titles? As of now, I say no. I don’t believe that changing from “Keyword Text – Brand” will be better than “Brand – Keyword Text”. At least, not yet. What they display and what they see as valuable has often been two very different things, and there’s no concrete evidence to start switching. However, it would certainly behoove you to test this.

It’s becoming clear (as if it hasn’t been already) that Google is pushing business to build their brand. That means we have to move beyond the anchor-text heavy link building and start going after things that actually matter. Beyond the obvious Moz metrics, imagine the weight that a branded link from a major news source would carry. I’d be interested in seeing how valuable that link would be versus an anchor text link from the same source.

┬áThe verdict? It’s not a test. Get on board and start building your business’s brand, or you’re going to get left out to dry.

About Christopher Smith

Chris founded DesignBigger in 2009. He helps build client SEM strategy, handles WordPress programming, and loves a good IPA. Follow him on Google or Twitter.

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