17

I'm just wondering how it is possible that IGN.com has this in its title tag:

Video Games, Cheats, Walkthroughs, Game Trailers, Reviews, News, Previews & Videos at IGN

while on Google its title is simply "IGN".

How can one achieve such a thing? Does it use some special meta tag I can't see?

10

Google modifies the title according to what you're looking for. I presume you searched for "ign" and saw the title IGN. If I search for

IGN is your site for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, 3DS, PSP & iPhone games with expert reviews, news, previews, trailers, cheat codes

then I get this as the title in the search listing:

Video Games, Cheats, Walkthroughs, Game Trailers, Reviews, News ...

In addition, sometimes the title (and the summary) comes from dmoz. Sometimes Google may think the title is too long.

Google's help page on titles and snippets has more information. This is probably the key sentence from that page:

The goal of the snippet and title is to best represent and describe each result and explain how it relates to the user's query.

0
14

Actually, the answer above is incorrect. You would need to read the question carefully. In this case, the title tag is too long and Google decided to use what it determines as a brand which is simply the domain name without the TLD.

I detailed the process in this answer:

My title tag doesn't appear to be getting crawled by Google properly

But I will paraphrase it for you.

For a few years now, Google has been experimenting with the SERPs most notably since March 2014. As a part of this, the title tag under certain circumstances may be changed. One factor is the title length. As of this writing, if the title tag length is greater than 512 pixels in length Google may chose to use:

  • What appears to be a brand name which can be the domain name with or without the TLD. (most likely)
  • What it knows to be a brand name. (fairly likely)
  • The first header h1 tag. (very likely)
  • A portion of the content that closely matches the search query. (fairly likely)
  • Information from a publicly available source such as ODP DMOZ (not likely).
  • Information from rich snippets mark-up. (less likely)
  • Text from anchors text. (less likely)

In the case of the OP's scenario, Google has chosen to use the domain name (IGN) as a brand name and return it as the SERP link. Managing the title tag length will solve this issue.

Also, this answer may help too: Title in Google does not match <title> of document

4

Yes, it happens sometimes, Google picks up the best title from your site and shows it in Google Search results.

I've already asked this question on another forum.

For example when I search for "Four Percent Group" in Google...it shows results as in the snapshot below...

google search results snapshot for "four percent group"

But the title tag is

"Four Percent Group | Four Percent Group Review | Vick Strizheus"

That's why I believe that Google always shows the best possible results from the site, not always what's in the meta title tag.

2

Google recently announced an update to how they will generate page titles. Prior to this update page titles were generated using page content in an attempt to generate a better title. These titles could change based on the query used in search.

If we've detected that a particular result has one of the above issues with its title, we may try to generate an improved title from anchors, on-page text, or other sources. However, sometimes even pages with well-formulated, concise, descriptive titles will end up with different titles in our search results to better indicate their relevance to the query. There's a simple reason for this: the title tag as specified by a website owner is limited to being static, fixed regardless of the query.

When we know the user's query, we can often find alternative text from a page that better explains why that result is relevant. Using this alternative text as a title helps the user, and it also can help your site. Users are scanning for their query terms or other signs of relevance in the results, and a title that is tailored for the query can increase the chances that they will click through.

With the latest update, the titles will be less likely to change for different search queries.

As far as how they will generate the titles:

Also, while we've gone beyond HTML text to create titles for over a decade, our new system is making even more use of such text. In particular, we are making use of text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page. We consider the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within tags or other header tags, and content that's large and prominent through the use of style treatments.

Other text contained in the page might be considered, as might be text within links that point at pages.

1
  • In all of the cases I've seen the title tags that are getting modified are those that are over-playing their hand with keywords or mischaracterizing what the content is about. Unchanged: About Us - Example.com Changed: About Us | SEO Agency NYC, CHI, LA | Example.com (but they really only have a location in NYC) Sep 11 at 0:46

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