There seems to be confusion surrounding Barry Schwartz’s post, “Google: Duplicate Titles Is Not A Panda Search Quality Issue” which was written February 13, 2015 and based on a Hangout interview with John Mueller that morning. Are duplicate title tags now obsolete to Google’s algorithm?
In the Hangout at the 46 minute mark, John says,
“Panda is a quality algorithm…which looks at the quality overall on a website to try to recognize higher quality content and show that a little bit higher in search.
Titles and meta tags are essentially not really a sign of quality. That’s something that’s more visible to the search engines. Um, titles are something in which we show in search, but not really something that the user actually sees when they access a page within their browser. It’s kind of hidden away in a tab up top, so from that point of view just because you have duplicate titles and meta tags doesn’t mean that that’s a quality problem, from our point of view, because we look at the general overall quality of the website, not at the individual meta tags and seen <sic>, like ‘Oh this meta tag is different here or must be a high quality website’ because that’s something that’s really easy to accidentally get right or wrong– one way or the other.
That doesn’t actually affect how users see or use your content. So, from that point of view, if you have a lot of duplicate title or meta tags, that might be something worth fixing, but it wouldn’t be affecting the overall quality of your website.”
Here in lies the confusion. Was this answer just a technical discussion between SEOs that classifies duplicate meta titles and tags as separate from Panda (something techies might enjoy discussing on a Friday morning) or are the dupes listed as suggested “html improvements” in Google Webmaster Tools now obsolete or valued less today than they once were in Google’s overall algorithm? Many people are confused by what John meant:
Please clarify, Google. For big brands with ongoing duplication issues (usually caused by multiple urls), SEOs would like to know if dupe titles are problematic (or not) before man hours are spent cleaning up what might not be high on the priority list anymore.
I’ve reached out to John Mueller for clarification, but haven’t heard any, yet.
Update: 2-17-15 6:15 pm
“The titles & descriptions report has been in Webmaster Tools for a really long time now. These things – like other potential issues on a site – are always worth looking at, but that doesn’t mean they’re critical (a site won’t get dropped from the index or generally demoted), nor that they’re all used by Panda or Penguin.
Is it worth fixing problems that you run across? Sure. Is every problem you find supposed to be the highest priority? No.
You folks know that – you see issues on lots of websites all the time, pretty much all of them can be resolved, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the first thing that needs to be done.”