Control your title links in search results

A title link is the title of a search result on Google Search and other properties (for example, Google News) that links to the web page. Google uses a number of different sources to automatically determine the title link, but you can indicate your preferences by following our guidelines for writing descriptive <title> elements.

A title link in a web result in Google Search

Best practices for writing descriptive <title> elements

Title links are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it's relevant to their query. It's often the primary piece of information people use to decide which result to click on, so it's important to use high-quality title text on your web pages.

  • Make sure every page on your site has a title specified in the <title> element.
  • Write descriptive and concise text for your <title> elements. Avoid vague descriptors like "Home" for your home page, or "Profile" for a specific person's profile. Also avoid unnecessarily long or verbose text in your <title> elements, which is likely to get truncated when it shows up in search results.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing. It's sometimes helpful to have a few descriptive terms in the <title> element, but there's no reason to have the same words or phrases appear multiple times. Title text like "Foobar, foo bar, foobars, foo bars" doesn't help the user, and this kind of keyword stuffing can make your results look spammy to Google and to users.
  • Avoid repeated or boilerplate text in <title> elements. It's important to have distinct, descriptive text in the <title> element for each page on your site. Titling every page on a commerce site "Cheap products for sale", for example, makes it impossible for users to distinguish between two pages. Long text in the <title> element that varies by only a single piece of information ("boilerplate" titles) is also bad; for example, a common <title> element for all pages with text like "Band Name - See videos, lyrics, posters, albums, reviews and concerts" contains a lot of uninformative text.

    One solution is to dynamically update the <title> element to better reflect the actual content of the page. For example, include the words "video", "lyrics", etc., only if that particular page contains video or lyrics. Another option is to just use the actual name of the band as a concise text in the <title> element and use the meta description to describe your page's content.

  • Brand your titles concisely. The <title> element on your site's home page is a reasonable place to include some additional information about your site. For example:
    <title>ExampleSocialSite, a place for people to meet and mingle</title>
    But displaying that text in the <title> element of every single page on your site will look repetitive if several pages from your site are returned for the same query. In this case, consider including just your site name at the beginning or end of each <title> element, separated from the rest of the text with a delimiter such as a hyphen, colon, or pipe, like this:
    <title>ExampleSocialSite: Sign up for a new account.</title>
  • Be careful about disallowing search engines from crawling your pages. Using the robots.txt protocol on your site can stop Google from crawling your pages, but it may not always prevent them from being indexed. For example, Google may index your page if we discover it by following a link from someone else's site. If we don't have access to the content on your page, we will rely on off-page content to generate the title link, such as anchor text from other sites. To prevent a URL from being indexed, you can use the noindex directive.

Google's generation of title links on the Google Search results page is completely automated and takes into account both the content of a page and references to it that appear on the web. The goal of the title link is to best represent and describe each result.

Google Search uses the following sources to automatically determine title links:

  • Content in <title> elements
  • Main visual title or headline shown on a page
  • Heading elements, such as <h1> elements
  • Other content that's large and prominent through the use of style treatments
  • Other text contained in the page
  • Anchor text on the page
  • Text within links that point to the page

While we can't manually change title links for individual sites, we're always working to make them as relevant as possible. You can help improve the quality of the title link that's displayed for your page by following the best practices.

Avoid common issues with <title> elements

Here are the most common issues we see for <title> elements on web pages. To avoid these issues, follow the best practices for writing descriptive <title> elements.

Common issues

Half-empty <title> elements

When part of the title text is missing. For example:
<title>| Site Name</title>

Google Search looks at information in header elements or other large and prominent text on the page to produce a title link:

Product Name | Site Name

Obsolete <title> elements

When the same page is used year-after-year for recurring information, but the <title> element didn't get updated to reflect the latest date. For example:
<title>2020 admissions criteria - University of Awesome</title>

In this example, the page has a large, visible headline that says "2021 admissions criteria", and the <title> element wasn't updated to the current date. Google Search may detect this inconsistency and uses the right date from the headline in the title link:

2021 admissions criteria - University of Awesome

Inaccurate <title> elements

When the <title> elements don't accurately reflect what the page is about. For example, the page could have dynamic content with the following <title> element:
<title>Giant stuffed animals, teddy bears, polar bears - Site Name</title>

Google Search tries to determine if the <title> element isn't accurately showing what a page is about. Google Search might modify the title link to better help users if it determines that the page title doesn't reflect the page content. For example:

Stuffed animals - Site Name

Micro-boilerplate text in <title> elements

When there are repeated boilerplate text in <title> elements for a subset of pages within a site. For example, a television website has multiple pages that share the same <title> element that omits the season numbers, and it's not clear which page is for what season. That produces duplicate <title> elements like this:
<title>My so-called amazing TV show</title>
<title>My so-called amazing TV show</title>
<title>My so-called amazing TV show</title>

Google Search can detect the season number used in large, prominent headline text and insert the season number in the title link:

Season 1 - My so-called amazing TV show
Season 2 - My so-called amazing TV show
Season 3 - My so-called amazing TV show

If you're seeing your pages appear in the search results with modified title links, check whether your <title> elements have one of the issues that Google adjusts for. If not, consider whether the title link is a better fit for the query. If you still think the original text in your <title> element would be better, let us know in our Google Search Central Help Community.