Yahoo Not Showing Site Titles as Search Result Titles

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”

Yahoo Search Results for Custom Search

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)
brownies 1
cold play 2
computers 1
custom search 3
diabetes 0
ford cars 0
french fries 4
heart attack 1
ipod 2
lipitor 2
lung cancer 0
nirvana 0
oldsmobile 1
stereos 2

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
brownies 1
cold play YouTube – COLD PLAY
cold play www.myspace.com/coldplay
computers
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?

Comments

  1. Fozzy says:

    Oddly enough, I have just started discovering this myself.

    I did a search for some of my companies websites and I was a little surprised to see how Yahoo! is displaying the title and I’m trying to find how they’re doing it, and it was just odd.

  2. Thanks Eric, more work for me when I go back to work on Monday. I’m gonna let you keep an eye on it for me so keep me informed, hehe.
    I’m sure someone has read this at work anyway so we’ll get on it. thanks!

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