Corrupt Titles in Google SERP
I’ve been keeping track of a WMW thread about Google displaying corrupt titles in their new SERP. Basically, Google is tagging on on-page text snippets to the end of the TITLE tag (or element, whatever). Since similar TITLE/description snippets throw a duplicate content flag, this little bug may end up causing major problems for some sites. In fact, at least one WMW posters claimed thousands of his pages with corrupt titles are now marked supplemental in Google’s index.
First question - is this intentional or is it a bug? Well, menu link text tagged on to the end of my titles don’t look all that pretty, and I really can’t think of any reason why Google would do this intentionally.
Second question - what’s causing it and how do I prevent Google from screwing up my listing? Well, on one of the pages, the cache date says May 30, 2006 03:24:19 GMT. But interestingly, another page listed correctly is showing the same cache date: May 30, 2006 03:24:18 GMT.. What’s the difference between the two pages?
First off, in both cases, Google is completely ignoring my META description - assuming the cached page I see corresponds to the SERP snippet (which isn’t always the case). Both pages have HTML validation errors. Meta description I used: <meta name=”description” content=”dfdfsd” /> on a HTML transitional. I dunno - both pages look pretty much the same to me.
All I can say at this point is if you see a page listed incorrectly, validate it. My guess is Google rewrote their parser used to build description snippets, and the new parser is parsing some pages incorrectly. Validating your pages should minimize the chance of that happening. ‘Course if Google is choking on a perfectly HTML valid page, then we’ll just have to sit it out.