SEO Consultants, please note this post is not just about Google simply changing title tags (that’s old), this is about Google using title attribute of a hyperlink  in the SERPs.

Dynamically changing titles is not a new thing, in fact I have seen many instances where Google does a really good job by shortening title tags which does actually help users. However, I came across the following anomaly. Search for “estate agents in leicester” and you will see the following results:

As you can see, Harrison Murray’s title reads “Harrison Murray Estate Agents (Opens in new window”. This is a rather strange dynamic change because “opens in new window” does not really help users, in fact it is rather confusing because all links open in the same window.

What is happening?

The main horizontal menu on Harrison Murray’s site is based on images (see below), each image appears inside a list item and all links have title attributes.


The title you see in SERPs reads “Harrison Murray Estate Agents (Opens in new window” but that exact title doesn’t appear anywhere in the actual code. The hard-coded meta title tag simply reads “Harrison Murray”.

Google is doing two things here:

  1. Appending “Estate Agents” after the brand name or the hard coded title tag.
  2. Strangely Google is appending part of the title attribute from the menu item(s) which in this case is “(opens in new window)”

Here are the title attributes for the top horizontal menu:

  • title=”Exclusive Homes Service (opens in new window)”
  • title=”Buying with HM (opens in new window)”
  • title=”Selling with HM (opens in new window)”
  • title=”Lettings (opens in new window)”
  • title=”Mortgages (opens in a new window)”
  • title=”Surveys”
  • title=”Conveyancing”
  • title=”AboutHM”
  • title=”Contact”

As you can see, 5 title attributes contain “(opens in new window)”, notice the 0 in “open” is lowercase in the source code but in the SERP Google changes it to uppercase.

What does this imply? Do title attributes carry more weight than we are led to believe?

Update:

Dan Barker has looked into this a bit further and has found that the majority of alt attributes in letting pages point back to the homepage with “Harrison Murray Estate Agents (Opens in new window” alt attrib. So, perhaps it is the alt tag that is triggering this?