Matt Cutts reveals the Google title tag policy

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Title tag policy explained

In a video posted online, Google's Matt Cutts has revealed the search engine's policy toward title tags, and how it decides on using them within search results.

When creating title tags Cutts suggested it is best for site owners to try to pre-empt what the user is searching for. When a title tags matches the query entered into the search engine by the user, Google is more likely to use that title tag in its search results. "We're looking for a concise definition of the page that's also relevant to the query," Mr Cutts said.

What is Google looking for?

Matt Cutts explained that Google looks at three particular things when trying to tell if the title tag is appropriate for a search query. These three things are:

  • Brevity - the title should be short
  • Clarity - a good description of the landing page
  • Relevance - it should be about what the user has searched for

The search engine results should display a title when all three of these criteria have been matched. Mr Cutts said users are less likely to click on links with titles which do not match these criteria, so Google has to adopt a different strategy for them. For titles which have not met the criteria, Google may use content from your page, anchor text links which point to the page, or the Open Directory Project to create a title.

Google has consistently altered and renewed its products to match the user experience; earlier this month it announced new AdWords innovations, which it says will be "the next generation" of the service.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, said: "It's always exciting to hear what Matt Cutts has to say, and his regular appearances on YouTube which explain how Google works are really useful to everyone in SEO. It's great to know Google rewards the hard work put in to optimise title tags."