Webmaster and trends analyst John Mueller caused a bit of a stir last week, when web marketing headlines reported he’d said that title tags weren’t considered to be an important ranking factor by Google. In actual fact, he was misrepresented, as what he really said was that title tags weren’t the most critical part of the page. This is a contentious issue, because although page content is king in terms of search engine rankings, title tags still play a role too. The misrepresentation of the meaning behind John Mueller’s words caused a lot of confusion amongst those who paid attention only to the headline that flashed up before them, without reading the substance behind it. So, Mr Mueller took the opportunity to explain his stance in a Webmaster Office Hours hangout, clarifying his comments about title tags and the nature of the role they play in a page’s ranking.
The comments were actually meant as a little snippet of information with added value about page rankings in general, to say that titles weren’t the most critical ranking factor anymore. He was surprised at the reactions that came back, as marketers from across the globe rebelled, stating that in their minds titles are important for SEO and are very much used as a page ranking factor. Ever the diplomat, John Mueller acknowledged this, adding that what he really meant was spending time making minor adjustments to titles wasn’t the best modus operandi when trying to get a page or site to the top of Google. Those who still think that SEO is mainly about titles and spend their time editing and rewriting titles in the vain hope this will boost their position, are living in a world of partial delusion.
Using an analogy that popped up on Facebook in a comment made by Simon Heseltine, Mr Mueller said that the importance of title tags was like the importance of petrol in a car. You could say petrol’s not a critical requirement for running a car, because Ford say the engine’s the most important part! If you apply this to the roles of title tags and page content, you can see how the analogy can be applied. An engine and petrol go together like hand in glove and so do title tags and page content.
Summing up, it’s safe to say that title tags do play an important role in the ranking stakes on Google. However, other elements, e.g the right page content, hold equal if not more importance. Working on these, in preference to title tags, is a better path to success in the race to get to the top of Google.