Why is my website page title different on Google?

Category : Design tips and tricks, SEO February 6, 2014

An issue that I bumped into recently was that google was displaying my website’s page title (title tag) differently to how it should be. My website page title was perfectly fine on my actual website (on all web browsers) and on all other search engines, the problem was literally only showing in a google search.

page title on browser

This is my website’s homepage title as seen from a browser.

website page title displaying differently on google

And this is the same page title as displayed by google.

Although this doesn’t matter too much, my main concern was that I actually want my keyphrase ‘graphic designer brighton’ to be the first piece of text to be read in the title. The reason that I want this to be the case is because it is good SEO practice to have your keywords or phrase first as it can make a big difference to your position in a search result.

As I initially couldn’t find the answer to this little ‘problem’ I decided to post a question on the Stack Overflow forum and was finally pointed in the right direction. It turns out that google has algorithms that sometimes generate alternative titles on your webpage in order to help users find the pages that are relevant and hopefully drive more traffic to your site. Google may also automatically generate titles for web pages that: don’t have a title, have poor titles, repeated titles and any that are too long or hard to read. Read more about google changing website titles.

Google may even change titles and meta descriptions with the information found on directories such as the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), if indeed your website is listed.

So why did it happen to me? This is a new issue for me and I feel that it is almost certainly because I have just moved to the town of ‘Lewes’ (obviously very similar to my name, Lewis). Because I have Lewes and Lewis in my page title (next to each other), google has realised that it may appear slightly confusing and has consequently restructured the order of the page title.

Whether or not the restructure has affected my SEO, I’m still unsure, but I’m guessing that it probably hasn’t.