John Mueller clears up a misunderstanding regarding keyword-heavy meta titles and webmaster guidelines.
This issue was addressed during the Google Search Central SEO live stream on December 11 2020. In the live stream, a search engine optimist tells Mueller that small businesses fill up their titles and descriptions with commercial keywords all the time, despite a series of warnings against these keywords.
They give an example of a Brighton florist with a description that reads: “wedding flowers Brighton, funeral flowers Brighton, anniversary flowers Brighton, birthday flowers Brighton,” and so on.
Generally, this doesn’t seem right. However, a lot of web pages rank high on Google using such descriptions.
Mueller trashes out Keyword-Heavy Titles and Descriptions.
Keyword-heavy titles don’t give Google much of a problem, but Google doesn’t recommend the practice either. This is because the relevance of most pages with keyword-heavy titles is usually lost in the process.
This is what he says:
“It’s not against our webmaster guidelines. It’s not something that we would say is problematic. I think, at most, it’s something where you could improve things if you had a better fitting title because we understand the relevance a little bit better.
And I suspect the most significant improvement with a title in that regard there is if you can create a title that matches what the user is actually looking for, then it’s a little bit easier for them to actually click on a search result because they think “oh this really matches what I was looking for.”
Whereas if you were looking for “flower delivery Brighton” as a title in the search results you see “flowers, green flowers, yellow flowers, Brighton…” and all of the cities nearby. You might look at that and say: well, is this some SEO result? Or is this actually a business that will do a good job and create some nice flowers for me?”
So that’s something where I almost think it’s a matter of improving the click-through rate rather than improving the ranking. And if, with the same ranking, you get a higher click-through rate because people recognize your site as being more relevant, then that’s kind of a good thing.”
Mueller Advocates for a More Direct Approach to Writing Titles and Descriptions
Keywords are ranking factors for Google’s search results, and this is why keyword-heavy titles are so prevalent in search rankings. Mueller recognizes this but suggests a more focused approach:
“It’s a really common tactic. We say that we use the keywords in titles as part of our ranking system, and people say, oh well, I need to add all keywords to my titles, and then you end up with something like that. So just because they are used for ranking doesn’t mean you need to put everything in there.
And sometimes, I suspect the bigger aspect is really the click-through rate from search rather than the ranking effect. Especially for small businesses, you don’t have a lot of chance to be visible in search results in lots of places because you’re probably more focused on your regional area, and having an excellent title that matches your business, that’s a lot more important than having all of the keywords in it.”