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Google: Title tag still counts towards rankings

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Hot on the heels of their recent page title update, Google confirms they will still use a website’s original titles for results ranking

The search giant may be replacing page titles, as I reported in late August,  however Google’s John Mueller confirmed in a recent Search Central Office-Hours Hangout recorded on September 3rd, that a webpage’s original title will still be used for ranking purposes.

Confused..? So was a concerned SEO who posed the question:

"Will the original page title be used for rankings, even if it isn’t shown in search results?"

John confirmed this was currently the case, if the original title contains an important keyword which isn’t featured in Google’s replacement. He did however make a point of hinting at a possible change in the future.

So, are original page titles still relevant as far as ranking is concerned?

Here is what Mueller had to say:

“Yes. At least that’s the way it is at the moment. You never know how these things evolve over time, but at least at the moment it is the case that we continue to use what you have in your title tag, in your title element, as something that we can use for ranking.

It’s not like something that replaces everything for the website, but it is a factor that we use in there. Even if when we display the title for your page we swap out maybe that one keyword that you care about, we would still use that for ranking.”

Does Google know best, should sites just change their page titles to the Google-chosen ones?

Mueller recommends not, Google’s replacement page titles shouldn’t be considered superior, nor would they improve rankings if coded into the website.

Bearing in mind what we know for certain around the topic of page titles and how Google’s search algorithms use them, removing them may well have a negative impact on a site’s rankings.

John Mueller addresses this by saying:

“The other question that I always get around the titles is: “Should I change my titles to be what Google has chosen?  Because obviously Google knows better.”

“And the answer is no. These are algorithms that are looking at things and trying to figure things out but you know your site best. You know your users best. So I would not blindly follow what Google’s algorithms are doing.

Maybe there are cases where Google’s algorithms give you good ideas, and that’s fantastic. But I would not blindly follow that.”

- Valuable words from Google’s search advocate and reassuring for SEO’s concerned or confounded about the effects of using their own bespoke page titles versus Google’s replacements.

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