Over at Webmasterworld, they are discussing a situation where Yahoo is not always using the a web page’s title tag as the title it shows in it’s search results. Barry Schwartz also provides some good data on this situation at Search Engine Land. It’s quite easy to spot. Once you do a search, if you see a result that is all in lower case, it’s likely that you have found an example. Here is the page that Yahoo shows when you search on “Custom Search Engines”
As you can see the 2nd and 3rd results are all in lower case. When you click through to the corresponding pages on those sites, you can see that thr title displayed in the search results does not match up with the title shown of the web page. Also, given that this is happening with high ranking pages at Google.com, there is no reason to believe that this is due to some sort of penalty (unless it’s really a bad mistake).
So let’s talk a look at a few search terms, and see how many of these results have had their title altered
|Search term||Altered titles (of 10)|
This shows that 18 out of the 140 (12.8%) titles I examined had the altered title.
The next question is whether or not there is a possible correlation between the search query not matching closely with the page title? So let’s take a look at a few examples:
|Search term||Page title|
|cold play||YouTube – COLD PLAY|
|custom search||Google Co-op|
|custom search||Custom Search – plone.org|
|custom search||Dogpile – Preferences|
|french fries||French fried potatoes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|french fries||CNN.com – House cafeterias change …|
|french fries||CNN.com – Fried politics: Restaurant …|
|french fries||Cookbook:French Fries – Wikibooks, …|
Looking at this sampling, we see a lot of prominent sites shown. Every single one of them shows a portion of the site URL as part of the title. In most of the cases, the displayed title in the search results is the same as the search term itself, or a close derivative thereof.
Could it be that Yahoo is auto-editing these because it does not like this form of title?