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Google’s new system for generating titles – “Titlepocalypse”, which was supposed to generate titles for   about 20% of the web pages in the search results, was not very well received. Many were of the opinion that the search engine giant rushed to roll out a system that they had not yet thoroughly tested.

Taking into consideration all the user feedback they received, Google revised the update to rewrite and generate HTML titles for just around 13% of the time. Furthermore, they provided an explanation on what triggers the system to rewrite a title tag.

So what leads to a title tag rewrite?

In a document titled,More information on how Google generates titles for web page results‘, Google helps creators understand what exactly they look for in a title.

They explained that title elements are used most of the time. Google’s new system is said to use the HTML title element as the title shown in the search results for around 87% of the time. Since 2012, Google has had to use text other than title elements when their system determined that the present title failed to describe a page very well. Mostly, the web pages that fell into this category were those with empty title tags, duplicate titles regardless of the content on page and pages with no title elements whatsoever.

The document also listed examples of when the system went beyond the title elements. The new system is designed to address certain situations where going beyond the title element may be more helpful for the web pages. Some of the situations listed are as follows:

  • Pages with Half-Empty Titles

Half-empty titles are titles wherein the site name may be present, but it may be missing the summary of the page. This situation generally occurs when templates are used to create titles.

These tiles usually look somewhat like this:

                 | Site Name

The system detects such titles and tries to make adjustments based on the header elements or any other prominent text it can find on the page, such as:

                 Product Name | Site Name

  • Pages with Obsolete Titles

Obsolete titles occur when the same page is used every year but the title element fails to reflect the latest date. For instance:

2020 admissions criteria – University of Awesome

If the headline on this page reads “2021 admissions criteria”, the system will go ahead and change its title to:

2021 admissions criteria  – University of Awesome

  • Pages with Inaccurate Titles

If Google detects that a web page’s title is not properly describing the content on the page, it will consider the title to be inaccurate. An example would be a page with dynamic content and a title that reads:

Giant stuffed animals, teddy bears, polar bears – Site Name

Google may then take it upon itself to change the title to something along the lines of:

Stuffed animals – Site Name

  • Pages with Micro-boilerplate Titles

A micro-boilerplate title is that one title which is used for a number of pages within a site, such as those used for television shows that may have several seasons but the season numbers are omitted from the titles. An example of such titles would be:

My so-called amazing TV show

My so-called amazing TV show My so-called amazing TV show

The system may modify these titles to display the season numbers mentioned in the headline text so that it becomes a little easy to identify which page is for which season.

Season 1 – My so-called amazing TV show

Season 2 – My so-called amazing TV show Season 3 – My so-called amazing TV show

Final Takeaway

We have to give it to Google for acknowledging that the system they have in place for creating titles is not perfect. Moreover, they welcome the creators to provide their feedback. 

Also, it may help to review and follow the guidelines provided by Google on their help page on creating good titles and snippets in search results. After all, Google uses the HTML title elements to determine the ranking 100% of the time!


  1. Title tags are considered for rankings even now.
  2. Continue to focus on creating great title tags with focus on target keywords.
  3. Include H1 and H2 in your page content including your target keywords.

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