“What criteria does Google use to change the title it shows in the SERPs depending on the query?”
“Why Google search results doesn’t show the current META title of a webpage”
Matt Cutts’ new video looks into where Google takes the titles and descriptions that are found on SERPs from. He received questions from people claiming that different titles are shown for different queries and that an H1 title is sometimes showing. The simple answer is, Google chooses the best title and description for your site appropriate to the query being searched.
Google looks for three main factors in choosing a title and description to display on a SERP:
- A short title that is to the point
- An accurate description of the landing page and of the site in general
- Relevance to specific query
If a user sees a title pop up that does not seem to relate to their specific query, they are less likely to click even if your site is relevant for them. However, your META title and description is a general comment on your site and cannot be relevant to every keyword that it may appear for. That’s why Google tries to help out by finding more options to display.
If Google has changed your page title in search in a way that doesn’t make sense, check out our guide to Title Tag Optimization – How to deal with Google changing your titles.
Google will look at the content on your page and links that are pointing to your page to get the information to display. They will also sometimes use the Open Directory Project to get accurate and relevant details.
Take a look at Matt’s answer:
Overall, if you want to be in control of your title and description, make sure that it is concise and relevant to queries that you are aiming to rank for. But remember, sometime Google can find a better way to get users to click on your site, so don’t be too worried.