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Old 05-18-2005   #1
gdgrimm
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Where's Google get Title for results?

A simple question, to which I thought I knew the answer.

Evidently, I'm wrong.

Where does Google get the text that it displays as the 'title' (i.e bold, colored, underlined, and hyperlinked) in it's search results?

Search for Hewlett-Packard

The title of the top link is "Hewlett-Packard Industrial Ethernet". But 'Industrial Ethernet' doesn't appear anywhere on HP.com's home page. Nor does it appear anywhere on the Google cached version of the HP.com home page.

In fact, we have no record of that phrase ever appearing anywhere on the hp.com home page.

So why is it appearing that way in Google's results?

And to confuse the issue even more....

Search for HP

The result has a different title displayed. This time the title in the results is identical to the Title tag on the web page (which is what I'd expect). But it has the same target URL as the previous one. It also has the same date/time stamp on the Google cached version as the previous one.

So why does Google display a different title in the results?

TIA
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Old 05-18-2005   #2
martinuboo
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I remember a previous thread that stated sometimes G gets the description from the Google directory. I can't remember if the title was said to come from there too. Google Directory gets it's data from the ODP and the HP Ethernet title is the one at ODP (# 8 on this search). I couldn't find the previous thread where this was discussed here. I think I remember discussion that G SE doesn't always use the listing info from the directory though.

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Old 05-18-2005   #3
Mel
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Looking at the search for Hewlett-Packard it appears that Google may be trying to find a SERP title which is the most relevant one for that search and is creating the SERP title in much the same way it has always created the snippet. Since the term Hewlett-Packard does not appear in the page title, nor the page's meta description and the only place it appears on the visible page is in the copyright at the very last line of the page the best source seems to be the directory listing.

But when you search for HP that term does appear in the page title and the meta description while there is precious little text on the page to use to create the snippet thus it chooses the meta description instead of a snippet from the page.

Seems to be quite clever actually.
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Old 05-18-2005   #4
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Thanks Martin. I bet that's it. It sure fits all the data...

The Google WS is identical to the Google Directory listing which is identical to the ODP listing.

BTW, I'm guessing the 'prior thread' you mentioned is this one:
http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/...ead.php?t=5083
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Old 05-18-2005   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel
Seems to be quite clever actually.
That would depend a little on whom you talk to.

Companies tend to be a bit touchy about what and how their web sites and pages are depicted. Not knowing where that information comes from, nor whom can modify it, is a bit spooky.
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Old 05-18-2005   #6
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Yes but those companies have full control over whats in their website and if they understand the process can make their pages so that the search engines respond in the way they desire.

Its not the search engines fault that Hewlett-Packard do not have the term Hewlett-Packard anywhere on thier page but in the copyright. The search engines job is to find the most relevant page for the search and to produce a SERP title and description which shows the searcher what the page is about.
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Old 05-18-2005   #7
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Actually, I'd say that it's the page owner's responsibility to make a Title and META description tag that accurately describes what the page is about.

If the page owner has went to all the trouble of doing that, it would seem reasonable for the search engine to use it in the results. Or at least use something on the published page in the results.

Pulling data from somewhere else - data which may not be controlled by the page owner - and then attributing it to that page in the search results, is a bit eerie.

And it's that last point that will worry some companies.
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Old 05-18-2005   #8
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Yes but remember that the page title and meta description are not normally visible to viewers only to the search engines, so if they did that someone could take a porn page and put a page title that said free candy click herein the page title and something like A free years supply of chocolate from a majotr chocolate company in return for filling out our questionaiire for the meta description and the SERP would look like a nice place for children to visit, but clicking the link would take you to a porn site or worse.
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Old 05-19-2005   #9
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So to recap, in both places, the description is coming from the page's meta description tag, which says:
Making technology accessible through simple appliances, useful e-services and an Internet infrastructure that is always on. View information about HP and Compaq computers, printers, PCs, scanners, servers, workstations, storage devices, drivers, downloads."
The title in your first example is coming from the Open Directory listing for that site, which you will find here.

The title in your second example comes from the page itself.

The reason, as hinted, is that Google uses both the Open Directory and the page titles now and decides which it thinks its most applicable. In this case, when you searched for Hewlitt-Packard, those words don't actually appear in the title tag of the HP page. So Google then looks to see if there's an ODP title that might seem more relevant for containing the terms, finds one and picks it up.

(FYI, bad move on HP's part -- it would have been easy to have a title tag saying something like Hewlett Packard USA: HP's Offfical Web Site For Printer & Other Computer Products).

My own opinion is this is an example of why I dislike having the title overwritten. Google is making a guess, and a bad guess, that this title is more relevant. I more and more prefer that the choice be left to web site owners. Grab a title and description from our pages in some way, but don't go using some third party source for that.

For more background, see:


By the way, I've started a new thread so people can vote on and discuss if how Google and other search engines make descriptions should change: Proposed Search Engine Standards For Titles & Descriptions

Last edited by dannysullivan : 05-19-2005 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 05-19-2005   #10
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Very nice recap, Danny.

A couple small corrections...

The description from ODP is being used whenever the title from the ODP is used -- at least, that's the case in the examples I cited.

Adding 'Hewlett-Packard' to the Title tag may resolve that specific example (i.e. by causing Google to use the web page info, rather than the directory info). But the same effect occurs for the term 'industrial' (hp's home page shows up around #7). The work around is useless here. If the page owner's goal is to NOT have their search result title include that word, using it in the web page Title (to prevent use of the directory Title) isn't going to accomplish the goal.

I'll hop over to the other thread you've started to discuss this in more general terms.
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Old 05-20-2005   #11
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Actually, from what I can see, it was only the ODP title being used, not the description. At least that's what I see. If I run hewlett-packard vs. hp, I get the same description (from the page itself) but the title changes.
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