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I've developed a vector graphic community page together with my friends, nevertheless we've made a big mistake in page titles.

Originally, I coded page title to be in a form of "image_name | brand". For instance: "Wasteland tileset | scalablegfx.com".

However, my friends changed brand to this long text: "scalablegfx.com - Home of scalable ideas!" and deleted image name from the detail page. So now every image has the same title: "scalablegfx.com - Home of scalable ideas!" and that is very bad for our organic traffic.

Can I repair page titles now (even if those pages have been already indexed)? Could we get penalised by Google for title manipulation?

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You should definitely go back to the original format. And no, Google won't penalise you for that - mistakes happen and based on what you said, you aren't trying to game the algorithm or spam Google.

In fact, if you check Webmaster Tools, you should start seeing duplicate title notifications and suggestions from Google to differentiate your Title tags.

Once you've reverted to using the image name within the titles, you can then consider the secondary issue that's been highlighted by @closetnoc - the title might be too long and it might be worth it to limit yourself to just using the brand name within the title without the tagline.

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There appears to be two things going on. Google may/will change the SERP link if certain conditions occur: one, the title length is too long; two, the title length is too short; three, the pipe character is used as a separator; four, branding can be detected. This is just a rough list but enough for us today.

In your case, you are using the pipe character with a title that is greater than the 512 pixel limit. It is 61 characters in length which exceeds the 45-55 character limit suggested. It is okay to have a longer title of course- it is your right to do so. Just know that Google may chose not to use your title the way you have written it- that is their right to do so. In this case, it appears Google chose to use the portion of the title after the pipe character. Please understand that the pipe character has a special meaning. It is the only separator character that is allowed to signal a logical break to Google. Often, the last portion of the title separated by a pipe character is seen as branding. In fact, you are using it for branding. When comparing the two segments separated by the pipe character, which one makes a better title? The one Google chose to fit within the 512 pixel limit.

Additional reading on title length:

Title tag different from title appearing in Google?

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

Title in Google does not match <title> of document

  • Thank you for the length explanation. however the biggest problem for me is the absence of image name in the title (same titles for all images). Can I add image name to title and shorten brand without being penalised? – Michal Jul 12 '15 at 14:39
  • @Michal First of all, please understand you are not being penalized. If you shorten the scalablegfx.com - Home of scalable ideas! or remove the pipe character you will see different results. Titles have to be crafted these days. You can use Fetch as Google in Google Webmaster Tools to implement the change, however, you may not always see the results right away. It can take up to 4 hours or so sometimes. – closetnoc Jul 12 '15 at 15:16

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