Over the last few days there have been reports of changes to the Search results, for multiple website across various sectors.

It now seems that Google are not displaying the Title Tag in the Search Results, but are tending to show the Heading Tag.

I noticed this on Tuesday (August 17th) – and initially thought that something had gone wrong. But then when I looked through the results, I saw a pattern on most websites, not just my clients.

When searching for ‘sofas nottingham‘ the organic results (on most results) do not show the optimised Title Tag, but rather the Header Tag.

Google Update Title Tags in Search

Whether this is an update, test, or algorithm update, it’s clear that many websites are now displaying the Header Tag, as opposed to the Title Tag.

What has changed?

These screenshots shows the Search Result for the Furniture Village Store in Nottingham.

Before August Update

SERPs before August Update

After August Update

SERPs after August Update

It’s clear that Google have changed how the Title Tags show, and in this case, have displayed the Header Tag.

Why have Google changed the Search Results?

It’s difficult to say, as Google have a history of changing how the Search Results are displayed. From only typically displaying the first 50–60 characters of the Title Tag (600 pixels), to changing the wording of the Title Tag to fit the users search intent, it’s never 100% clear why Google make changes.

From what I can see, this might have something to do with BERT – Google’s algorithm update (October 2019), that looks at the users search intent to better understand what someone is searching for.

One common thread with most of the Search Result changes, is that all are smaller. Usually only including the location you have search (or your physical location) with 1 or 2 keywords, followed by the name of the business.

It looks like Google are trying to bring results that are more concise, and show exactly what is on the page.

For detailed guidance on how to create good titles and snippets on Google Search, see this guide on Google Search Central.

How does this impact your rankings?

At the moment it is hard to tell if this affects rankings, some people are reporting a drop in rankings. But with most of the clients I manage, I have not seen a direct change, yet.

For example, Alpha Power Cleaners is a commercial cleaning equipment hire business, and one of their many categories are Hot Pressure Washers.

They are based in Loughborough, and cover across the Midlands and the South of the UK. When searching for ‘hot pressure washer hire Loughborough‘ their category page appears first organically.

SERPs for Alpha Power Cleaners - New Google Update

Strangely enough, this results does not include a location – is this because they are based in Loughborough and Google know this, so don’t show it? Or is it that the length of the Search Result would be too long to have a location and the business name?

It’s hard to tell. But have a look yourself on any websites you manage, or for things you have searched recently. Most results have changed.

The only results that have not changed, are those that are within the 50–60 characters (600 pixels).

I use the rank tracking tool, AccuRanker, and as of yet, there are no noticeable changes in the rankings. Below is a screenshot of the ‘Average Rank’ tracker. Not anything to write home about for August.

AccuRanker Tool - Alpha Power Cleaners Avg Rank

What can I do?

At the moment there is not much anyone can do – with Google updates like these, we usually have to wait it out until Google change it again, or come out with an official algorithm update.

For the time being, keep a close eye on your rankings and make sure your website’s are fully optimised the best they can.

Checkout my News for more Google updates, and my Google Search Console and Google Analytics Resources, for guides and tips.

Did you see this with your searches or website? Share it with your friends and colleagues to let them know too! ⬇

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