NEWS: In some cases, Google is re-writing your meta titles when it presents search results.
Google has a ton of intelligence on users of their search engine. This puts them in a position to help your company get more traffic to your website, and more-satisfied visitors. How? They know a ton about their search users:
- They have the cookie data from their users’ past searches.
- Google accumulates and learns from other searchers looking for the same things.
- They know how long users are staying on the page after the search.
- Then they can look at which websites answer that specific question.
- Google crawls all those pointing links at your website, especially the phrases around and embedded in that link.
In other words, Google is highly qualified to rewrite your meta titles.
They don’t always get it right.
OK, maybe they’re not yet fully qualified, but I think they will be very soon. This article from SearchEngineLand.com exposes how Google can get it wrong when guessing at a “better” title.
Should you direct Google to use your meta tags?
You may have a reason for to direct Google to use your title. If so, I recommend following Danny Sullivan’s advice on “robot meta tags” at SearchEngineLand.com
However, if you want to get ranked in the search engines, my advice is to operate the way Google wants you to operate. If you’re using key phrases judiciously in your meta titles, etc., and writing great content focused on that topic, and writing it so well that it gets links pointed at it, then Google won’t have any reason to re-write the titles.
Are these further signs that SEO will go extinct?
A November, 2013 Forbes.com article provocatively asked, “Is SEO Dead?” Of course, the answer is no. But it’s certainly changing. As the interview with Sam McRoberts points out, SEO can no longer mean manipulating search engines to get ranking for undeserving websites. But the necessity for change is more urgent than that.
I remember hearing my first pitch from a web developer back in 1995. When they began to explain HTML, they practically whispered the acronym, like a dark art which they alone could manipulate to create that wonderful new thing – a Website. Once most companies had their magical website launched, and once the importance of search was understood, these same practitioners of the mysteries of HTML code switched over to the even more secret voodoo of SEO. And now, the game is truly changing – not over, but clearly winding down.
Jenny Halasz posted an interesting piece on the identity crisis SEOs are wringing their hands about. In my opinion, the phrase “SEO” has become commoditized – so many different disciplines have laid claim to it that it no longer has a clear meaning.
The reason the definition of SEO has changed is because the needs of marketers has changed. Now websites aren’t just a small part of the marketing mix; in many cases they are the primary focus of the marketing spend. As such, several C-level executives in each company are focused on how well the website is serving corporate needs. Thus, SEO practitioners within companies must step out of the technician role and widen their awareness to include marketing, PR, HR, etc. The successful ones already have.
SEO won’t go extinct. It will simply continue to evolve. As Google continues to evolve how they understand content, they will rely less on what SEO says our content means, and more on other signals:
- The content on your website
- Links pointing at your content and the key phrases near those links
- Social media signals, (especially Google+)
- Author Rank of your content writers