Google Overwriting Title Tags in Local SERPS - Problems


Linda Buquet

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Prior to starting the forum, I blogged back in May about Google overwriting title tags in the SERPS by 'trying' to scrape the name of the business from the web site but sometimes she gets it VERY wrong.

I've seen her replace title tag in SERPs with initials that made no sense, a single keyword, or something bogus like "subscribe here".

Here's my post from May: Weird Google Local Update – Title Tags Being Overwritten? 2 New Updates
That post includes some of the bogus replacements and problems I've seen.

Well the issue is still raising it's ugly head and Colan, one of our Local Pro members just contacted me to alert me to a thread he just started at the Google forum.

Colan PMed me to ask: Hi Linda, I know there is a thread somewhere where you explain how Google has been making up their own title tags for Google+ Local listings based on what they feel delivers the best user experience. Do you know the thread I'm referring to? I couldn't find it.. Anyway I posted an interesting example of this on the Google forum Have you seen this situation happen before?

Here Colan's thread at the Google forum: Why is Google displaying a website URL as the title of a listing in search??

My replies follow in case it helps anyone here:

Linda said:

With the top 3 listings in the SERPS, Google is scraping the site and trying it's best to guess at the name. The bottom 3 or 4 listings she usually pulls the name directly from title on Place page. Here is what I typically see

- The top listing usually gets to keep their title tag
- The next 2 or 3 shes scrapes from the web site and sometimes gets it very wrong.
- Then the last 3 or 4 she pulls directly from G+ L title.
Here is the link to Colan's client's site. Anchorage, AK State Farm Insurance Agent - (907) 345-0214 After investigating, here is what I told him I think COULD be going on.

As I explained to Colan over there: "from what I've seen investigating other cases like this she's scraping on-page elements and replacing title tag in SERPS with something she thinks must be important due to on-page elements.

So I searched source code and suspect it's this. Domain is in an H1 tag at top which Google thinks of as the title or most important part of the page."

HTML:
<h1 class="icon1">Todd Jackson, <span class="designation">CASL,ChFC,CLU</span><span><a href="http://www.toddsfarm.net">www.toddsfarm.net</a></span></h1>
I also suggest he look at other State Farm pages that are formatted with the domain on top in the H1 like that to see if that might be what's triggering it.

I've also helped others with this problem here and at the Google forum. I'll see if I can round up some other posts in case they help anyone else dealing with this issue.

FYI guys, I have a MAJOR post coming out tomorrow regarding a related problem and it includes the issue of Google removing title tags. Stay tuned, it's a post about a pretty big deal that's affecting local search.
 

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