Optimization of title tags? Google will do it for you!

Wow. Who needs SEO when Google does if for you? I hear ya think, what is that guy moaning about. I was looking for a pair of new shoes and just typed in the (Dutch) keywords ‘heren instappers’. I’m a SEO addict, so instantly I check which pages are optimized and how well they are optimized. It’s my job, so it’s always nice to see what others are doing. But what is that result doing there with “Heren Instappers (7)” in the title of the result? Those keywords are not in the title of the page, nor are they in the title of the cached page. What the ?!?

The result page for ‘heren instappers’ looked pretty normal to me. Every result optimized in a decent way. My eye was caught by the 7th or 8th result, which looks like this:

Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong. It should not  be there. Because that title you are looking at, is not the title that is set in the <title> element on the webpage. And no, its not present  in the Google Cache page either.

Title element in current webpage

Title element in the Google Cache

So now Google is doing the title optimization itself?

Strange ay? I must say I haven’t truly checked any blogs or forums to see if other people have seen this. The fact is that this is HUGE for our SEO branche. If Google is going to rank websites on competitive keywords (‘heren instappers’ is quite competitive in Holland) that are not optimized at all on those words, we might be facing the end of SEO as we know it.

Sure, putting the right keywords in the title element is no secret SEO trick anymore. But it was a neccessary step to be able to rank high on top keywords. And now Google seems to be doing it themselves, based on internal linkstructure and linktext.

Is Google closing the gap between optimized and non-optimized websites?

Now thats the question. Why is Google doing this? I must admit, the result is relevant to my search query, so the only complaint I can make right now is that Google is taking over my precious job. On the other hand, should we just let these things be handled by Google, and lose control on how we appear in the search results? I surely hope not.

Of course, it might be a bug, a glitch in the system. I haven’t seen it like this before. Do you?


  1. Hi Sander, thanks. I have seen a few things like this before, but the title is not based on the URL, or on a heading element, but on internal linktext. Quite fancy when you think of it, but shouldn’t Google let users choose their own titles and descriptions?

  2. Yea i have seen it a few times now. Rarely though. Whether this still a test case or not i dont know. End of seo? Nah.

    What i find interesting is that the moral of optimizing your content becomes irrelevant this way. Google says whats relevant to her users instead of what you think is useful for your new visitor.

    The metadescription is already a point of discussion sometimes. Now the title aswell?

  3. Hi Michel, thanks. With ‘the end of SEO’ I meant that if you lose the influence on Google rankings / snippets, you lose the need to SEO the page. Sure, technical issues still matter, but the ‘commercial’ side of SEO will fade away.

    Anyway, these things happen, but as I said, i’ve never seen Google use internal linktext as a title.

  4. Well, at the time of caching, 14 products were available, at this time even 9. Therefore, is this smart? I do NOW think they don’t have a lot of availability for these products? But actually, they DO!

    PS. I consider that the 7 stands for the amount of available products in that specific category?

    If google wants to extract this data, i cannot think of any other reason than that Schuurman Schoenen is using Google Base to import their database to google? What do you think?

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