Question for Matt Cutts: Why Is Google Adding My Name to Meta Titles?

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Name in Meta TitleI have a question for Google’s Matt Cutts, and I am going to post it here on the off chance he sees this article. Even if Matt doesn’t happen to see this article, I am hopeful someone else can let me know how I can resolve the issue.

Ever since changing my blog’s domain name from ElliotsBlog.com to DomainInvesting.com, I have noticed that Google is adding my name (Elliot Silver) to the meta title of my blog posts in search results. I use the Yoast SEO plugin to help manage my meta tags, but Google doesn’t seem to be paying attention to what I would like the title to read.

Up until today, the meta title was simply “Title of Post,” which I used because my article titles are sometimes very long. As you can see from the screenshot, articles appear in Google as “Title of Post | Elliot Silver.” I have never had my full name appear in the meta title before.

This morning, I changed the meta title default to “Title of Post | DomainInvesting.com” in case Google is adding my name because it really wants some additional branding in the title. That’s just a guess though. I would really like to know why Google is adding my full name to blog posts because in the future, there may be contributors to this website and it would be strange if my name appears on their posts. To illustrate this, you can see this image to see how Paul Keating’s post on DomainInvesting.com appears.

On the off chance that Matt or another SEO expert sees this, here is a bit of background about my website:

I created ElliotsBlog.com in 2007, and there have been close to 5,000 articles posted since then. Nearly two weeks ago, I changed the url of my blog to DomainInvesting.com. When I made the url change, I followed Google’s best practice guide, and I also wrote my own guide to changing a website url with the details of how I made the change and what I did to ensure that the proper procedure was followed.

Although it is not harmful to have my name in the meta tag, one of the main reasons for changing the url was to build the DomainInvesting.com brand rather than my personal brand. Having my name in the meta tag sort of defeats that purpose, and it’s a reason why I specifically asked to have DomainInvesting.com in the meta title.

I am hopeful that someone can let me know how to ensure that my name does not appear in the meta title.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Could the reason be: “Add DomainInvesting.com to Google Authorship – Within my Google Plus account, I verified my @domaininvesting.com email address and I added my role as a current contributor. I have not deleted the Elliot’s Blog listing yet, although I will probably change it to past contributor.” From a recent post.

  2. Google has been do this for years. It is annoying, but not much can be done about it unfortunately. Even Matt Cutts has state that Google reserves the right to change the title to whatever they see best.

    I would guess over time that the “Elliot Silver” will eventually be dropped from the title as Google figures it out.

    Right now you still have over 50,000+ links indexed as site:elliotsblog.com

    It’s going to take quit a bit of time to sort out.

  3. This is why domainers shouldn’t develop and developers shouldn’t try to sell domains. Two totally different worlds. Google is focusing on “brand” which is why you’ll notice more that big brands are dominating search right now. They’re attempting to weigh social into it to factor ones brand. Ironically, your “brand” is not domain investing. it’s you. you’ve spent years developing it. You’ll know Google thinks your brand is “domain investing” when it starts showing up in your title without you putting it there. You’re a LONG way away from having those two words be your brand in Googles eyes though.

    • There are millions of small business owners with less experience developing their brands online, so saying that “domainers shouldn’t develop” doesn’t make sense to me. I am asking Google to display something to identify my site, and Google is choosing to display something else. It’s a bit frustrating.

      I do get that Google is trying to add my personal branding to the site based on its algorithms and my previous branding. My mistake was not adding | DomainInvesting.com to the title in the first place. By doing that yesterday, it seems to have fixed the issue, at least going forward. Hopefully having it there will eventually cause a change in how Google recognizes the site.

  4. I have the problem in the past but when using some code to separate the title, Google able to retrieve the title easily.
    I thought it depend on the:
    1. How popular the website is.
    2. Uncommon coding in title.
    3. Based on keyword drawing visitor to the website.
    4. Linking from another influence blog/website.
    5. Google think ‘they have better title’ for some website/blogs.

    I maybe wrong but that are my assumption so far. I have few blogs and few of them shown Google retrieve the title and description without problem and using it in their search page. I left the setting from original CMS along with native setup of WordPress SEO.

  5. It’s because you (as in you the human being, not just your blog) have been algorithmically recognized as an authority source. All that work you did as “Elliot Silver” paid off, congrats.

    You really ought to be slow and deliberate with this whole ‘rebranding’ thing. Great domain name to rebrand with but perhaps take a blended approach and don’t worry about severing ties with the past. Maybe work to keep them solid. You’ve built up a lot of credibility with your name that is not all going to flow along to the ‘rebranded’ presence (in spite of being such a dandy domain name)

    Google is weird, there’s a lot of odd SE stuff that SEO’s don’t fully understand and you certainly won’t find in web articles but could ultimately be a hole big enough to sink a ship if blindly fucked around with.

    • I can appreciate that.

      I liken it to going out to dinner, being asked to select a meal, and then being given something else. The chef may think I would like the alternative, but unfortunately, that isn’t always accurate.

    • I think you’re a touch off on your example.

      It’s more like:

      You are the chef, a customer has ordered something on the menu that you created, and the waiter changes your dish on the way out to the customer.

      The important distinction here is that in your example, the customer is being wronged, and in this one the chef is being wronged. Google has a very clear customer-first-not-chef-first policy. The internet is an environment where the waiter has all the power 😉

      Regardless, I like the rebrand and think it was a good move. Great name.

  6. Elliot, you still have “Domain Investing News & Tips from Elliot Silver” as your main title tag. If you remove “Elliot Silver” from every title in every URL it will likely fix your issue.

  7. How to Establish Authorship
    Authorship refers to how Google ranks your content. If you post content about a certain topic that gets shared by your followers or publish blog posts on a regular basis, Google will start recognizing you as an expert in that field. Once you establish authorship through your Google+ account, Google can rank your content from any website, not just G+.

    This means when someone searches for a topic you’ve written about, you have a higher chance of being one of the top results. And the more often your followers share your content on Google+, the more likely Google will rank your results.

    – Why Google Authorship is Key to Your Bikini Marketing Strategy
    http://bikinimarketing.com/why-google-authorship-is-key-to-your-bikini-marketing-strategy

  8. It has nothing to do with authorship, and everything to do with anchor text and (probably to a lesser extent) on-page relevancy indicators. Google tries to “correct” titles if it thinks the webmaster got it wrong:

    “If we’ve detected that a particular result has one of the above issues with its title, we may try to generate an improved title from anchors, on-page text, or other sources.”
    https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35624?hl=en
    More explanation here: http://yoast.com/google-page-title/

    You still have thousands of links pointing to your site with the anchor text “Elliot Silver”, and it appears on every page, so Google is pretty sure that’s your brand and thinks it’s helping by adding it to the page titles. The best way to fix this is to go through your list of most powerful links to your old domain (http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/links?site=www.elliotsblog.com) and write any of them who are friends/ acquaintances/ business partners (esp. those with site-wide blogroll links) to ask if they’ll update their links to your new domain and brand in exchange for you buying a round of drinks at the next conference.

    If enough change the links this will fix your brand issue, but it also has two additional benefits 1) you lose a little link juice through 301 redirects, so this allows you to recapture the full value of those links. 2) Since Hummingbird and Google’s move towards entity association and other semantic indicators over purely lexical indicators, you should see some ranking benefit from stronger association to the “domain investing” concept, which presumably is why you rebranded in the first place. 🙂

    Good luck Elliot! Let me know if I can help with anything.

    –Matt

    PS: Be careful about changing too many anchor texts to the exact match keyword (“domain investing” rather than DomainInvesting.com or https://www.domaininvesting.com/“). Generic keyword brands like yours have to be VERY careful about triggering Penguin penalties. Don’t exceed 10% using the exact keyword and ideally update some deep links as well.

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