Empty Title Tag = Google uses WHOIS data?

Posted by Michael D Jensen on July 20th, 2007

What happens if you leave your title tag blank? It’s a bit embarrassing, but I developed a site for a friend years ago and after a modification to the homepage earlier this year the title tag has been empty (note, I wasn’t doing SEO, just the site). I noticed this not from looking into the code itself, but from checking some rankings manually through Google. I noticed the listing wasn’t the name of the site or the page, but rather of the company itself!

At first I thought, okay maybe it is pulling the name from another meta tag…nope! I did a quick site: query and found really only one page, the contact us page, that the company name could be pulled from. Then I thought, Google wouldn’t go to a contact us page for that, too much variability. Seeming that Google is a registrar, and we all know how important domain age is to the Googlerithm, why not go to the WHOIS data for the title page? Sure enough, the title listed in Google is an EXACT MATCH to the registrant data for the domain.

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.

Anyone else seen this?

8 comments Visited 8733 times July 20th, 2007 Michael D Jensen

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  • Entry Filed under: Content and SEO,SEO

    8 Comments Add your own

    • 1. Matt McGee  |  July 21st, 2007 at 10:50 pm

      That sounds crazy. Can’t say I’ve ever seen it happen. You’re sure it’s not a DMOZ (or even Yahoo) directory listing?

    • 2. Michael D Jensen  |  July 22nd, 2007 at 10:51 pm

      Man, am I a knucklehead or what? Yeah, it looks like it was pulled from DMOZ. Dang, I thought I found something cool. Thanks Matt!

    • 3. Jaan Kanellis  |  July 23rd, 2007 at 12:15 pm

      Mike as you probably know to, if you want to block that DMOZ title just use this code:

    • 4. Jaan Kanellis  |  July 23rd, 2007 at 12:17 pm

      Code didn’t show before:

    • 5. Jaan Kanellis  |  July 23rd, 2007 at 12:19 pm

      code still not showing no idea why not. I used the code tags, but it is being filtered.

    • 6. JohnRoy  |  July 23rd, 2007 at 3:58 pm

      note: code line starts with “less then” bracket (“shift ,”)
      - and ends with “greater then” bracket (“shift .”)

      To direct all engines that support the meta tag not to use DMOZ info for the page’s description, use:

      meta NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”noodp”

      To direct Google specifically, use:

      meta NAME=”GOOGLEBOT” CONTENT=”noodp”

    • 7. study guide  |  July 24th, 2007 at 4:07 am

      Very interesting observation, tip of the hat from me. Why not make a follow up post with some more data, obviously this would be breaking news, don’t you agree?

      Subscribed to this blog, I am eagerly awaiting more from you! ^^

    • 8. Michael D Jensen  |  July 24th, 2007 at 10:41 am

      Thanks Jaan, I am aware of that tag, but I solved the problem by just putting a nice title in the title tag! :)

      study guide, see these comments for the follow up, it does look like the DMOZ entry was giving the page its title and that was resolved by actually giving the page some words in the empty title tag. Glad you’re subscribed!!

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