We’ve told you a number of times how important title tags are to your websites ranking in Google. But Google doesn’t seem to care about the hard work you put into the creating these tags, they’re simply going to alter them.
There have been a number of complaints pop up on the WebmasterWorld forum that Google is selecting a different title from what the webmaster placed in their title tag.
It seems Google is not picky as to which sites it targets; Apple has even had its title tag changed (see example below).
Google’s John Mueller explains why they are doing this:
In general, when we run across titles that appear to be sub-optimal, we may choose to rewrite them in the search results. This could happen when the titles are particularly short, shared across large parts of your site or appear to be mostly a collection of keywords. One thing you can do to help prevent this is to make sure that your titles and descriptions are relevant, unique and compelling, without being “stuffed” with too much boilerplate text across your site.
Though Google has provided a specific reason as to why people are seeing this sudden change in title tags, Matt Cutts has noted that the company reserves the right to suggest a different title from what the webmasters might have set. In the meantime, webmasters can take the following advice from Google:
Make sure each page on your site has a useful and descriptive page title (contained within the title tags). If a title tag is missing, or if the same title tag is used for many different pages, Google may use other text we find on the page. The HTML suggestions page in Webmaster Tools lists pages where Google has detected missing or problematic title tags. (To see this page, click Diagnostics in the left-hand menu of the site Dashboard. Then click HTML suggestions.)
So should webmaster start panicking? Is this a precursor to some big change soon to be announced by Google? Or is this a permanent change in the Google algorithm? We will have to just wait and watch.