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What to do about Google changing the titles of YOUR site webpages
A long time ago there was a good search engine called Google. They had a big advantage over other search engines because they were clever computer people who actually gave a damn and cared about the technology and the finer points of what other clever people wanted. The people at Google wrote clever computer programs so stuff on the Internet could be searched and the results could be generated that actually had some good sense about it. For years people relied on Google for decent search results.
But sadly we could now be seeing signs that those days could be coming to an end. I'll explain what I mean by way of a typical problem and how a bad solution by Google has resulted in a backlash from the Internet community.
The problem is 2012/03/04 that Google has now got an unfortunate habit of changing your website page titles in the displayed search results. You may or may not think this matters a lot, but a great many people think it DOES matter. I have worked on my website for almost twelve years and I create it to be the best it can be considering the resources I have.
At my site there are no (zero) duplicate titles. Every page, (there are over eight thousand of them), has a different title, each of which has been carefully chosen. Every page has a proper descriptive description, no naff keywords, and the site is indexed using the site's own site index which is created using a computer program here. This has all been done long before anyone thought websites needed to be propped-up by having a sitemap.xml or any such lame stuff.
So, why is it now, that Google sees fit to meddle with page titles? It is not for the reasons they claim. It's nothing to do with being "relevant" or "making it easy for customers". It could be to defy cheating, which is fair enough. But it currently seems to be for the purpose of dumbing-down the Internet by assuming that webmasters are clueless. In effect, because some people have called their homepage "home" <title>home</title> , Google has started appending bogus material on the end of the page titles. In a small minority of cases, for sites that are very badly designed, yes this would be an improvement. So, instead of the result being "home" it would be "home - Joe's Caff", or something like that.
Wikipedia survives the change because it has "boiler plate" titles.
The problem, and it is a problem, is for everyone else. All of the people who take great care building their websites. They are now lumbered with having unnecessary appendages stuck on the end of their page titles, making the results look really stupid in some cases.
Just to clarify this: What Google does is, where it doesn't like your page title (for example if it's something descriptive like "how to unbung a drain"), Google will append your homepage title on the end.
If there were a way of opting out of this embarrassment, for example in the way Microsoft allowed their annoying piratical exploitation to be avoided by adding <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE"> to every one of your pages, then Google could still have some credibility.
The problem is, they haven't.
(The fact that Even Microsoft, one of the most disliked companies on earth, got this right and Google didn't, is a sobering though).
Google are getting like Apple, who, if they made cars, would presumably weld the lid down on the engine so you couldn't repair it, and would only let you drive on rails on roads which they had approved.
I have spent years building my website, and it used to make quite a lot of money. I have emigrated to a tax haven because the site was very likely to continue to make money. However, it might be that it's suddenly no good. A bit like if the government decided that the banknotes were suddenly not worth anything.
I can't change all of the pages at my site to fit with some new fad. It's too late for me. So here is my martyrdom video.
Well, not quite. But you can see what I'm getting at, can't you?
It's not too late for you, though. If you have not already invested in your foundations, you can create things which are more suited to Google's new short-termist attitudes and you may still make money before the end finally comes.
Let me show you an example. Admittedly I promote William Hill, but my page is doomed like all my other decent review pages because of the accursed evil appendation of bogus text by Google. However, if you look at someone else's clever page... www.thebookiesoffers.co.uk/willhill , the character who runs that site has done something really clever, as the page title is William Hill Free Bet - Join William Hill Today For A £25 Free Bet. That is cunningly 66 characters long, leaving poor Google no opportunity to append any bogus sitename on the end.
If carried to its logical conclusion, the stupid move by Google to change page names on people's sites will result in all the cunning people who can change their sites being able to create bizarre page-names which will defeat Google. It's sad for me, because my pages have concise titles, and there's nothing I can do to mend them. For example, Why the Earth is Round. It's a page explaining why the Earth is round. Therefore that's what the title is. I'm not going to pander to some naff search engine by creating a title which is designed to fudge it. If people want to know why the Earth is round, they should be able to go to a decent search engine, put in "why the earth is round" or something like that, and my page should come up. It's never going to teach people the truth if it is displayed as something like why the Earth is round Zyra's website, or why the Earth is round a minus sign Zyra a website about almost everything, etc.
So, sorry Google, I'm not going to change for you. As far as I'm concerned you have cooked your own goose. I feel sorry for the folks though, the people doing the searches, as they'll no longer get decent explanations of things. It will all slide into a disastrous war of search engine obfuscation versus deleterious algorithms.
So anyway, what's to be done about The Big Problem, of Google having gone bad? Well, if it was an apple, it would be chucked away and you'd get a new one that was fresh.
But how do you get a new Search Engine? The problem there is that it would take an immense amount of work, just to be as good as Google was when it was still a decent search engine. However, there are a great many people who would be willing to work on it, as they want a good search engine, one that produces relevant results. The desire is for a high-tech search engine, something that is techie-friendly and lets people put in their own advanced search criteria. These days, when a company falls for the "let's do things the naff way" ruse, along come the Linux people and write them out of business. Look at what happened to Microsoft Internet Explorer! It got replaced by a better, free, Linux-based replacement, Mozilla Firefox, tending towards Iceweasel if they become a problem themselves. Even great companies such as Kodak are suffering because of being replaced by new technology (in the case of Kodak, digital cameras versus film). Poor old Google could fall, in a similar way. It would just take someone to create a better search engine. Then, Google pandering to the low intelligence market will be shown to have been a bad move.
Actually, I hope Google see the error of their ways and resumes being intelligent-person-friendly. If not, though, there'll be a move to Replace Google
Update on this: Blekko is a new search engine which does not do this ludicrous page-name mangling. Meanwhile, on Google, Zyra's primary site is having " - ZYRA / Zyra's website www.zyra.org.uk" appended to various page names. They've appended the front page title onto other page names. Ridiculous!
Yandex.com and Yandex.ru is another alternative to Google, and there is none of that deplorable page-title mangling there! Maybe Yandex could replace Google?
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