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One of my colleagues today noticed something weird with a client’s website. Basically, because of a problem with their CMS, some of this french site’s pages do not have title tags. While my colleague was working on the website, she realized that in its index, Google displayed some text in the SERPS for what’s usually the title tag..

Let’s take this page as an example. As you can see, there’s no title tag. Now let’s look at the cached version of this page in Google :

The text displayed instead of the title tag is actually a header. Google is showing the first header that it found on the page. In our example, the first header in the source code is a h2 (note: there’s no h1 tag on the page) :

<div id=“lang”>
div>

<div id=“last_news”>

<h2>Dernière minute

I’ve checked other titleless pages from this site, and in the SERPS, Google always shows this h2 tag instead of the missing title tag. The first header tag is always this h2 tag containing the text “Dernière Minute”, or “Fresh News” in english. Unfortunately, the site didn’t make a clever use of Hx tags to structure their document, if they did, Google would have showed something relevant to users, but that’s not the case…

This is yet another example that respecting basic accessibility principles will be appreciated by Google and improve both your rankings and the user experience.
I tried to see if someone else came across the same case, and found this guy.

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9 Responses to “No Title Tag On Your Page? Don’t Worry, Google Will Use Your Headers Instead”

    Hmm this was new to me too, thx :)

    me dit quelquechose ce site…. ;-)

    Muppet
    Look round the site to see if there is any navigation with anchor text pointing to that page.
    Or look up any backlinks to those pages and you will find that the anchor text will be same at the title google has put in place of the blank space.

    You are close but not quite there with the header theory.

    Earl, there’s no link pointing to that page with the text used instead of the title tag. This could have been the case, but not in our example. As I said, the text means “Fresh news” and corresponds to a header present on every page so it’s not like if it was a link using a keyword in relation with the page. Plus, Google did the same thing for other pages that did not have title tags.

    Hey, I’m “this guy” from the post. I wondered if anyone had found out anymore info on this?

    Hi Chris! Nope, it seems like only a few people have noticed this. I will let you know if I hear more about that, cheers.

    [...] Obviously one instance isn’t enough to prove it, but I’m convinced that is what happened in this case. The only other example I could find is where Google used a header tag instead. [...]

    I know that header tags are very important for Google, but this was new for me.

    [...] … Ramenos Blog. Reel SEO. Search 1.x. Software Abstractions. StayonSearch. The Next Web …No Title Tag On Your Page? Don’t Worry, Google Will Use Your …Don’t Worry, Google Will Use Your Headers Instead. One of my colleagues today noticed something [...]