My SEO title isn’t showing as I have entered it

If you’ve crafted SEO titles for your blog posts, pages, or shop pages, you may be surprised if they aren’t showing properly in Google. There are also times when you set up a template for your titles, only to see them altered in search results. You may notice things like double titles or your branding showing up twice. The title just doesn’t match what you’ve entered into the settings. Let’s go through all the problems you can run into on this front and tackle them one by one.

NOTE: If you need help with meta descriptions, use this guide: Google shows wrong meta description for my site.

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Possible reasons why the SEO title does not appear as you intended

When Google doesn’t show your SEO title, there are four possible problems:

The source code is wrong

The source code for your site should contain exactly one title meta tag. If the tag is missing or more than one appears, you may not see the preferred title in search engines. Please view the source code for your site to determine if either of these situations apply.

<title>Preferred title goes here</title>

If you do not see a title meta tag, please follow the steps in this article.

Alternatively, if you have more than one title meta tag, please run a conflict check to determine what other feature on your site outputs the duplicate title(s).

Search term manipulation

When you search for a specific search term, Google scans all indexed pages for the exact term or phrase. Google uses the search term to highlight information in search results which is why the meta title may be different from what you entered into the plugin.

To see the title without search term manipulation, use the site: search operator followed immediately by the URL of your site. For instance, a search for all pages on example.com without search term manipulation would be site:example.com

site:example.com

Google cache is outdated

It can take up to a week for Google to index the changes you made, depending on how often it crawls your website. So, if you’ve recently updated your title, Google probably hasn’t indexed the new title yet.

You can go to Google and type in cache: followed immediately by the URL of your site or page to see what Google has cached for your site. If the appeared date is before you made the changes, you’ll have to wait for Google to crawl your site again. Sometimes you can speed up this process with the Inspect any URL tool in Google Search Console.

Google ignored your preferred title

Sometimes, Google just doesn’t like your titles. This could be true for all sorts of reasons and the ways of Google are fickle. We have seen that sometimes it can replace your title with parts of your URL. It’s also known to add the brand to the end of your title, or just completely rewrite it when it feels like it. Ultimately, Google will make the final decision on what comes up in search results. You can learn more in Google’s help doc about titles and descriptions.

However, there is still something you can do. You can try writing better titles. For your posts and pages, try writing one sentence titles that contain your brand name and your focus keyword. And for your homepage, your title should probably start with your brand name. Start improving your titles right now, with the help of this article that provides advice on crafting good titles for SEO.

If you do change your title, be sure to use the Inspect any URL tool in Google Search Console to update Google’s index with the new change.

Sometimes this same issue can happen with meta descriptions. Learn more about it here: Google shows wrong meta description for my site.

Title templates

Now that we’ve looked at the possible reasons that Google doesn’t display your title correctly, let’s look at some possible issues with title templates. First, let’s tackle the title templates that are available within Yoast SEO and how they work.

Wrong title shows for:

Wrong title for a custom post types page

Make sure you have entered the right titles and metas into the right post type for the right field. For example, if you have a Custom Post Type you will have two parts to it: A Custom Post Type section and a Custom Post Type Archives section. Each has there own separate and titles and metas template.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wpseo_search-appearance_content-types_cpt.png

Wrong title for other pages?

Each post or page’s title is automatically created by using template variables but can be overwritten at the post or page level. As the title is available to all plugins and themes, there are times when the Yoast SEO title is overwritten by another plugin or theme feature. If the template and the page level titles are correct, please check for conflicts.

Theme support

Themes with title-tag support

If your theme is compatible with WordPress 4.1 and newer versions, it should declare theme support for the title-tag and remove all <title> calls from theme files to support dynamic titles.

Warning: Any manual edits made to theme files may be overwritten by future theme updates. You may wish to explore how to make a Child Theme to prevent this from happening.

Does your theme declare title-tag support?

You can manually check your theme by looking for add_theme_support() in the functions.php file:

add_theme_support( 'title-tag' );

You may need to contact your theme developer for further assistance if you are not sure if your theme declares title-tag support.

Does your theme still include <title> tags?

It is also possible to check your theme manually by viewing the appropriate header or template files for the <title> meta tag.

Not sure which template files impact a specific page? We recommend using the plugin What The File.

If the theme developer declares support for the title-tag, you should find zero <title> meta tags in theme files.

When the theme developer declares support for the title-tagbut included <title> meta tags, these must be removed for the title-tag support to work correctly.

If your theme has not properly implemented the new dynamic title method, please contact the theme’s developer to request compatibility.

Themes without title-tag support

If your theme does not declare support for the title-tag feature, you have two options: edit your theme files or use the force a rewrite option.

Edit your theme files

Warning: Any manual edits made to theme files may be overwritten by future theme updates. You may wish to explore how to make a Child Theme to prevent this from happening. 

Search your theme’s files for the title element. You can typically find this in the header.php file. Change the title element to just this:

<title><?php wp_title(''); ?></title>

If you are not sure how to do this you may need to contact your theme developer for further assistance.

Force a rewrite

Note: This can considerably slow down your site and is the least desirable option of the two. This is not available when your theme already supports dynamic titles as discussed here.

The first option is to enable “Force rewrite titles” on the SEO -> Search Appearance page.

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.

    When you’re logged in, you will be in your ‘Dashboard’.

  2. Click on ‘SEO’.

    On the left-hand side, you will see a menu. In that menu, click on ‘SEO’.

  3. Click on ‘Search Appearance’.

    The ‘SEO’ settings will expand providing you additional options. Click on ‘Search Appearance’.

  4. Click on the ‘General’ tab.

  5. Toggle the ‘Force rewrite titles’ switch to ‘Enabled’.

    This is discussed in detail here.

  6. Click ‘Save changes’.