Why does Google rewrite SEO title?

There are many people asking this question. Especially after they have carefully optimized by hand via SEO plugins in WordPress, fully meeting the scoring criteria of these plugins such as adding keywords, making it not too long, adding attractive words, … However, the title that users see when they search on Google is not the same as the title they spent time and effort optimizing? Why is there such a result? Let's find out in this article.

Title types

First, it is necessary to distinguish the types of titles we need to discuss and their characteristics. Usually there are 3 types of titles as follows:

Title of the article or the page

The title of an article is the most prominent and important part of the article on the website. You will easily see this title when reading a news article or a product or service introduction page:

Post title in WordPress

Technically, in WordPress, that is the post title.

For some special pages such as landing pages or homepages, sometimes this title is not as clear as a news article. Usually, people design it as a prominent title in the first section of the website (the hero section).

For example, in the landing page of Slim SEO Schema, this title is the section "A Powerful & Lightweight WordPress Schema Plugin" as shown in the image below:

Page title of Slim SEO Schema landing page

Article titles or page titles are both used to describe the main content of the page and provide brief information about the topic of the page.

SEO title

SEO title is a technical concept that refers to the content contained in the <title> meta tag of a website. To view this title, you can use SEO extensions for Chrome, or view the source code of the website if you know a little about code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en-US">
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <title>Slim SEO Schema - Add Structured Data to WordPress Visually</title> <!-- This is the meta title -->
    <meta name="robots" content="max-image-preview:large, max-snippet:-1, max-video-preview:-1" />

Normally, this SEO title will have the format "Post title - Site title" in WordPress. This is also the default configuration of most SEO plugins. However, in some cases you want to optimize this title to attract more users, SEO plugins can help you do that. Below is the customization section in Slim SEO:

Custom meta title in Slim SEO

This SEO title is the title that the website owner wants to display on the Google search results page. Therefore, they heavily optimized this title to make it more attractive and encourage others to click when viewing.

Title displayed on the search results page

Even though people have optimized and provided Google with the best SEO titles, in some cases, Google does not choose to display these SEO titles on their search results page. As a result, the title displayed on the SERP is different from the website's SEO title (and often will also be different from the article title).

So we have 3 different types of titles.

Why doesn't Google display the correct SEO title on SERP?

The simple reason is that Google does not commit to displaying SEO title tags exactly as provided. Although we have followed SEO guidelines and optimized both content and techniques to the best of our ability, that's all our job does. How the title is displayed on the SERP is analyzed by Google based on many factors such as:

The actual content of your website. Would you write SEO titles that are different from the content on the site itself (like a black hat tip)?

User search intent. Sometimes users search with purposes that are not completely similar to your content, then Google can rewrite the title for you to better match that search intent, and thereby attract more users.

We should also remember that Google holds a lot of data about users' habits, behaviors and needs, so they understand users much better than us. Sometimes the keywords users type in the search box do not completely represent what they are really interested in, and perhaps only Google knows that.

So what do I have to do to get Google to show my SEO title?

There's really nothing you can do to force Google to show your SEO title. Instead, focus on content that is helpful to users and write an SEO title that is appropriate and attract. Below are some points you should remember when writing titles:

  • Be concise and describe the exact content of the article or page
  • Honest, not exaggerated or shocking
  • Attractive and encourage readers to click to view

And don't forget to carefully research user search intent to have content that readers want to read.

These are timeless guidelines and are always useful when you create content for your website. Don't overuse clichés or pump too many keywords into SEO titles. Maybe they will create opposite effects for you!

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