One of my project's title tag doesn't appear to be getting crawled by Google properly. The title tag of the home page reads:

<title>Grande Prairie Jobs | Job Board for Grande Prairie, Alberta and Area</title>

Google, on the other hand, indexes the title as gpjobs.ca. Screenshot

Is there something I'm doing wrong here? Any insight would be really helpful.

One thing, the first of the document is gpjobs. Could this be causing the incorrect title? I guess I just don't understand why Google would index it with the <h1> rather than the <title>.

Edit: To clarify for whoever marked this question as a duplicate of this one, my site actually had a landing page where Google indexed it correctly. After launching the site and submitting a sitemap, Google has indexed the title as above. What I'm trying to establish and correct, is why the site has an indexed title of the first h1 on the page and not the title. I expected the title to be picked up.

  • 1
    Just to note, Google won't necessarily use the contents of the title tag in the SERPs, even when things are working as expected. The title in the SERPs can be customised to what the user is searching for, which makes me wonder what you are searching for to get the results you are seeing? In fact, if I search for gpjobs.ca I see the same results as you (a title of just "gpjobs"). However, if I search for site:gpjobs.ca I see the very same page in the search results with the full page title "Grande Prairie Jobs | Job Board ...etc."
    – MrWhite
    Jul 7, 2014 at 20:49
  • If you searched for either the domain name or the brand name (presumably gpjobs), then 9 times out of 10, Google will show the domain name or the brand name as the page title for those search queries.
    – zigojacko
    Jul 8, 2014 at 9:05
  • You may be correct @w3d. I believe I was searching for gpjobs.ca and seeing that result. Looks like my issue is positioning and not SEO. Thanks! Jul 9, 2014 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


This is an easy one. Your title tag is too long.

Prior to the recent Google font size change in the SERPs, the rule was to have a title tag no longer than 55 characters. With the font change, I am assuming about 45 characters, though that may not be a precise answer.

If a title tag is too long, Google will make one up. You want to avoid this as much as possible. As well, if the title tag is too short, Google may pick up the H1 tag. It is a delicate balancing act. One that irritates me. What was wrong the the ellipsis (...)? If you chose a title tag that is just right in length, Google will use it verbatim. Otherwise, Google may brand your site with - domain.com. What appears in your case is that Google used your domain name less the TLD. This happens too.

Keep in mind that all characters need to be counted including spaces and special characters.

I would recommend a title tag 40-45 characters (plus or minus).


Moz Article: http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag

Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag... If you keep your titles under 55 characters, you can expect at least 95% of your titles to display properly.

Search Engine Land Article: http://searchengineland.com/advanced-seo-learning-experiments-using-googles-title-tag-changes-example-189850

The new character count suggestion is 55 to 60 characters.

Sometimes, Google creates a completely new title for their SERPs than a page’s actual title tag.

Quoting Google: If we’ve detected that a particular result has [...] issues with its title, we may try to generate an improved title from anchors, on-page text, or other sources.

Google Article: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35624?hl=en

We use a number of different sources for this information, including descriptive information in the title and meta tags for each page. We may also use publicly available information—for instance, anchor text or listings from the Open Directory Project (DMOZ)—or create rich snippets based on markup on the page.

...we may try to generate an improved title from anchors, on-page text, or other sources.

Vertical Measures Article: http://www.verticalmeasures.com/search-optimization/time-to-rethink-title-tag-strategy-again/

After March 2014: Google rolled out new SERP layout complete with larger text and additional CSS font treatment. You can no longer hold to the time-tested guideline of 65-70 characters. Title length is now determined by 512 pixels (or roughly hewn down to 55 characters).

Moz Forum: http://moz.com/community/q/google-sets-brand-domain-name-at-the-end-of-serp-titles

I am experiencing that Google puts our domain name at the end of the titles in SERPs.

Moz Forum: http://moz.com/community/q/google-automatically-adding-company-name-to-serp-titles

Maybe I've been living under a rock, but I was surprised to see that Google had algorithmically modified my page titles in the search results by adding the company name to the end of the (short) title.

Sometimes they add your URL to the end of a title tag.

Moz Article: http://moz.com/blog/long-title-tags

In short: When your title tag is too long, instead of simply truncating it and adding an ellipsis to the end the way they used to, Google is trying to algorithmically determine a better title for the post.

Trigger alt title when HTML title is truncated. [launch codename "tomwaits", project codename "Snippets"] We have algorithms designed to present the best possible result titles. This change will show a more succinct title for results where the current title is so long that it gets truncated. We'll only do this when the new, shorter title is just as accurate as the old one.

So what have I proven?

Google no longer uses a character count to truncate titles in SERPs opting for a pixel length.

Google DOES truncate longer titles that result in ellipsis and has since 2012.

The standard advice is no longer than 55 characters- 50 if you have wide characters such as G, H, K, and so on. The title limit can be as short as 45 characters.

Google will use the H1 tag and other elements including content and DMOZ listings for the title in the SERPs.

Google will automatically brand a title in the SERPs. If you want proof of this just do a site: for my website and see for yourself.

Further Update: It appears that the ellipsis has returned in the U.S. shortly after this posted answer.

  • 2
    I don't think it's as simple as the title tag being too long. Take this very page as an example (and most other pages on Pro Webmasters for that matter)... This page has a title tag of 91 chars and it appears as-is in the SERPS (at least as much as will fit), chopped at 57 chars, followed by an ellipsis. In the results that I'm seeing, Google is showing anywhere between 54 and 64 chars (max) in the SERPs (depending on chars used and word breaks).
    – MrWhite
    Jul 7, 2014 at 19:00
  • 1
    This isn't true, Google won't make up a new page title if the title is longer than X amount of characters at all. They change the page title for branded searches or if they can find something visible on the indexed page that they feel is more semantically relevant to the user's search query.
    – zigojacko
    Jul 8, 2014 at 9:02
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    @closetnoc your citated sources are accurate yes - but that isn't what your original answer stated. The visible title in SERPs has been decided by pixel width for some time but Google will change the page title if they feel they can provide a better match or if it is a brand/URL search. Not if it is too long by X characters (which none of your sources confirm) - that was the only reason for my downvote because it was an inaccurate statement. Your proof doesn't back up your original answer.
    – zigojacko
    Jul 9, 2014 at 7:40
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    @zigojacko I added more proof. You need to slow down and check whether you have the right view of what is going on. There are people here that really do know what they are talking about! This is not the first time you jumped on an answer and immediately down-voted an accurate answer. A smarter/more respectful thing to do is post a comment first and wait for the response to make sure that a down-vote is warranted. Otherwise, you are risking damaging your own credibility and damaging a valid answer as you have here. Again, as I said, a simple search proves my point. I suggest you remember that.
    – closetnoc
    Jul 9, 2014 at 15:42
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    @closetnoc - I'm not meaning to be disrespectful or unfair and rarely do I downvote, only if the answer is factually incorrect. You stated "If a title tag is too long, Google will make one up" - that isn't why Google makes up titles and I don't see anywhere in your "proof" that backs that up. It is incorrect to advise that to others here so I don't feel I am damaging a valid answer. [offtopic] And believe it or not, contrary to belief, there is nothing to say that a search engine does not pay any attention to characters 55 - 300 - it's purely just what is visible in SERPs (greater weight 1st).
    – zigojacko
    Jul 9, 2014 at 17:10

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