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Google Displays Site Names Instead Of Title Tags

Google Displays Site Names Instead Of Title Tags

Google appears to have stopped displaying title tags for the full website in mobile search results. This is most obvious when looking at the results of a search for a website’s name, which often only returns the homepage.

Subdomains are unaffected by this functionality.

Google’s Search Central documentation regarding site names states that, at present, Google Search only supports site names from homepages at the domain-level, and not at the subdomain (for instance, https://news.example.com) or subdirectory (for instance, https://example.com/news) level.

When you do a search on your phone, all that comes up is the site’s generic name.
If you conduct a search for Semrush on your mobile device, for example, you will see a search results page with the website’s generic name.

While the title tag for the above page is:

It seems that keyword searches that don’t involve a brand name still return the title tags.

Additionally, title tags are still visible in brand name + keyword searches.

Why is Google choosing site names over title tags?

Site names are being used by Google to help visitors more easily identify individual websites inside search engine results.

According to the official Google statement from October 14, to help users more easily recognize the website related to each result, “today, Search is introducing site names on mobile search results.”

This new function is currently accessible in English, French, Japanese, and German, with further language support rolling out gradually over the next months.

Not without its issues

For example, if you search for Wordfence, you get the same site name results regardless of whether you search for “Wordfence” or “Word fence.”

But when you use the domain name HubSpot as a search term, the previous version of the search results with the title tags appear.

However, if you search for Hub Spot (with a space between the two words), you will see the site’s actual name.

Thus, it would appear that Google is occasionally producing inconsistent results when searching for specific site names.

Website structured data

WebSite structured data was previously disregarded because it was assumed Google already knew what a website was and didn’t require any further context to begin indexing it.

However, things have changed now that Google uses the WebSite structured data type’s “name” field to find a website’s name.

When using the “name” property in WebSite structured data, Google provided the following example:

<title>Example: A Site about Examples</title>
<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context" : "https://schema.org",
"@type" : "WebSite",
"name" : "Example",
"url" : "https://example.com/"
}
</script>

If you’re going to have structured data for your website, it ought to be on your homepage, Google suggests. By “homepage,” they mean the primary URL for the domain in question.

For illustration, the domain’s homepage would be https://example.com, however https://example.com/de/index.html would not.

What about sites with alternative names?

WebSite structured data is helpful since it allows you to provide Google with a different alias for the site.

According to Google, you can use the alternateName parameter to specify a different spelling of your site’s name, such as an abbreviation or a shorter moniker. But this is not required.

Here is an example of the structured data that would be used to add an optional name:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context" : "https://schema.org",
"@type" : "WebSite",
"name" : "Example Company",
"alternateName" : "EC",
"url" : "https://example.com/"
}
</script>

More than one source for website name

According to Google’s site names documentation, the search engine considers not only the structured data present on a webpage, but also the on-page, off-page, and meta data information.

Google uses the following to decipher the website name:

  • WebSite structured data
  • Headings (H1, H2, etc.)
  • Title tag 
  • The og:site_name attribute of the Open Graph Protocol metadata

Remember that the og:site_name attribute is a suggested but not required Open Graph property:

<meta property="og:site_name" content="Example Name of Site" />

Conclusion

The revamped site names function in mobile Google search is a nice touch.

For brand name searches on the homepage, it makes sense to have cleaner search engine results pages (SERPs). Nevertheless, we can see why some people would be dissatisfied with the way title tags aren’t used in these kinds of queries.

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