Is Google Overriding Title Tags with Business Name?

Is Google replacing Title Tags on the main Google results page with Business names?

I have a local client, Napoleon Engineering Services, that markets their custom bearing services nationally and into Canada. In the industry they often go by their “nickname” NES and are known as a high quality testing, inspection and manufacturing facility for custom bearings.

I am not sure if Google is experimenting or not but on a recent trade name search for Napoleon Engineering, to retrieve my client’s phone number I noticed that Google had completely replaced the web page title tag with their business name from the Maps index.

Here is what Google showed in the result:
substituted title tags in results

Google’s cache shows the currernt tag: NES – Custom Bearing Testing & Bearing Inspection- home – ball bearing testing

How wide spread is this? Is it just an experiment?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Is Google Overriding Title Tags with Business Name? by

22 thoughts on “Is Google Overriding Title Tags with Business Name?”

  1. Mike –
    It looks like Google may be using the DMOZ title. You can check pretty easily by putting meta name=”robots” content=”NOODP” in the head of the page, wait for a recrawl/reindex, and see if that fixes it.

    It’s pretty common for G to use DMOZ descriptions, but to use the title is something I’ve not seen first hand. Thanks for pointing this one out. (Please let us know if it is in fact the DMOZ title).

  2. aha, does look like it’s being pulled from DMOZ. I too was assuming it was coming from the Maps LBC titles.

    When I checked on this yesterday for a few clients, some had the modified titles, others did not. Now that I think of it those that had modified titles were the ones that were listed in the ODP.

  3. I’m seeing some clients where the title is replaced in the SERPs with the navigation text. For example, if the top nav uses the text “ABOUT US” refering to a page with the title “All You Need To Know About Acme Corp.” it will appear in the serps as “ABOUT US – Acme Corp”

    Wonder if this is a way to combat title tag spam? If so, it’s a little weak.

  4. I’ve seen the titles being replaced with DMOZ titles before – and as Jim said, we’ve always used the NOODP meta. I’ve never, however, seen titles replaced with navigation like that – is it possible that it’s pulling from something besides the nav?

    1. @Barry, Jim, Stever. RKF & Melissa

      Thanks for the feedback. I will try the content=”NOODP” and see what happens.


  5. Check SeoPros on Google the NOODP tag has been in for some time and you will also find that the NOODP tag is just for meta description… not titles. I have been trying to figure out for some time where that comes from… my best guess is does come off ODP and there is nothing we can do about it. Apparently the editors at ODP can’t read and just change Organization names to fit what they think they should be. I guess they just don’t get that it’s not an acronym it’s an organization’s name!

  6. I also think this may come from another authority site other than ODP but the one person I asked to help in that regard decided they’d just be as lame as ODP and ignore my request… dame dumb error which apparently is AOK with them. anyone here rememebr gettin’ a note like that?…. didn’t think so ;-(

  7. Terry

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experience with this phenomena. Its interesting that NOODP tag doesn’t work.

    In my case the Title Tag is changed ONLY on a branded search. When one searches on a keyword it sticks with the original tags. So in my case, the client is actually well served by the change.

    That being said, it is clear that it is not always a good thing and not being able to control it is disconcerting.


  8. Mike I agree it can go both ways. If I used WebmasterCentral then I could likely edit that Sitelink… I don’t unfortunately I won’t use WC out of prinicipal. What I don’t get is if I can override the description why not the title?

    Mike your analysis and coverage of local is outstanding other than yourself Bill Slawski’s patent work are my only sources for local info. The rest I kinda think someone needed a topic and… they write about local. You are literally turning over the stones and having a look see at how it works… that’s refreshing and commendable. Keep up the good work.

  9. Update: Google’s John Mueller comments:

    “We may choose to replace titles which are repeated on a number of pages or which otherwise appear to be suboptimal – that’s probably what’s happening here. To resolve that, it would be a good idea to make sure that the titles are unique, compelling and relevant to every page and that the important parts are visible in the first part of the title text. You can get some help with finding duplicated titles in Webmaster Tools under Diagnostics / HTML suggestions.”

  10. No probs Mike –

    If only Google would do this more often and tell us straight from the horses mouth when a popular, but incorrect seo meme starts – we wouldn’t have so many conspiracy theories floating around SEO circles – which can lead to popular misconceptions like the nofollow debacle.

    What I really appreciate is Google responding from someone other than Matt Cutts. I love the guy whatever anyone may say about google or him – you just know hes a genuine guy – a bit geeky but a genuine one

  11. Mike… all due respect to the engineer but he basically said that it is the site owners fault… My titles are as unique as you will find anywhere. do site search… and I can guarantee you that the title in the sitelink not only is not on the site… it’s a hatchet job and it just goes to show that putting trust in ODP… a box and dull tools comes to mind. If you will block the Description then block the title too… this aint rocket science.

  12. No discounting that he is making an effort. I know your concern is the local but IMO, anytime a SE replaces the most important part of the listing with something out of everyones control there is going to be problems. Th business listing is even more of a problem since some might not even be online or, AIUI, from cre8 aware the listing exists.

  13. Hi,

    We have seen this happening across a number of our clients.

    I completely aggree with what you said re Google response. If we could all recieve some level of interaction and explanation it would certainly save my business many ineffective hours sharing conspiracy theories!


    1. @Katie
      At least the community was able to ferret out the reality. Between here and >a href=””>blogoscoped’s coverage of the issue it was solved in 2 days.

      I think “shining the light” on these sorts of issues will often “encourage” Google to engage on these sorts of things.

      Although I am still left wondering where the business title tag is actually taken from. Juhn Mu implied the website not DMOZ. And I agree that the Google rules should be explicit & transparent. They demand that of us and it is the least standard that they should hold themselves to.

      It is interesting to me that in my case the replacement is context and search specific.

  14. Could be coincidence, but when we had this happen to our site, the NOODP tag fixed it fairly quickly. I have read conflicting reports that this tag either does or does not affect the title tag. At the moment, based on our own real world situation, I’d say that it does affect the title. Our ODP title was different from our LBC title and the one that went into the SERPs was the ODP tag.

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