We know that Google will pull a snippet for a Meta description if your supplied description doesn’t have enough relevance to the searcher’s query. But, in this case they are pulling a direct snippet from your own content…. Not necessarily so for titles according to JohnMu who says this:
In general, when we run across titles that appear to be sub-optimal, we may choose to rewrite them in the search results. This could happen when the titles are particularly short, shared across large parts of your site or appear to be mostly a collection of keywords. One thing you can do to help prevent this is to make sure that your titles and descriptions are relevant, unique and compelling, without being “stuffed” with too much boilerplate text across your site.
So in a nutshell, when Google finds page titles vaguely described as “sub-optimal”, they “may choose to rewrite them in the search results”. Some examples such as short titles, titles shared across large parts of your site or appear to be mostly a collection of keywords (spam), may at their discretion be rewritten by Google.
So what’s the problem with this? Unlike a snippet for a description, we have A no given means to stop it and B no control over what is eventually displayed. So obviously avoiding short, duplicate or spammy titles, we really do not have any means to control this. Worse yet, a computer, not a human will rewrite your title using no human understanding, nor intuitiveness.
I am a firm believer in writing great titles. We tell clients that this is one of the most important on page ranking factors and that this area has certain characteristics necessary to be effective. Here is a brief run down of “good title” attributes.
- Title is not more than 65 characters. (Less is more here).
- Title is 100% relevant to the page’s content.
- Title does not contain a bunch of junk words such as and, or, etc.
- Title is a proper representation of the page.
- Title tag’s word phrase is in the page in it’s entirety, most effectively a heading tag.
Keep these things in mind that while “Google’s creation of sites’ titles and descriptions (or “snippets”) is completely automated and takes into account both the content of a page as well as references to it that appear on the web”, it is still executed by a computer. Best to write good ones for yourselves.