While searching where one website was ranked for in Google for a search term, I noticed something really strange in the SERPs. Google has changed the title of the webpage by appending the site’s name to the end of the title. To give you an idea of what’s happening, consider the following:
Webpage title : Basic SEO Skills
Website name : My Website
You would think that “Basic seo skills” would be listed as the title in google search result pages but no, the title was displayed as “Basic SEO Skills – My Website”, so the suffix “My website” was appended to the real title. I checked the said webpage and the website name was not in the title which means Google was deliberately adding this to the title. Funny thing is that for a different search term (variation of the main keywords), the right title is shown.
So I did a little research and it turns out that Google reserves the right to alter your page title tag to show a more relevant result to the searcher (this depends on what search terms are being used). I knew they showed a more relevant snippet (text from your webpage where the search terms are found) instead of the description tag but this title thing was new to me.
Where does Google pull the additional words to append to your title tag?
Well it turns out that the suffix can come from anchor text pointing to your page, your website name or from text in your content.
When does Google alter your page title?
Seems like whenever your webpage has been deemed a good result to display for a particular search term but your title does not contain an essential keyword to make the search result more appealing, Google will spice up your title by appending the search term from, say, the inbound link’s anchor text.
If your page title is short or not descriptive as well (eg Untitled or no title at all), Google will most likely change it to better reflect your content.