Should You Change Page Title In WordPress After It Is Published

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A scetch of a page with a title.We are frequently tempted to modify and change page title in WordPress after the text is published. So is this advisable or not?

My answer is the following: if the page (or post) is well ranked I would not risk, otherwise do it freely. But the story is not so simple so let me explain this in more details.


Types of titles

When you write a post or page you in fact deal with two types of titles:

  • The post/page title which you type into the title box in the Editor, the same in Text and Visual mode.
  • Meta title.

The meta title is what you have in the SEO part in the editor. You have two separate boxes there, for the meta title and for meta description.

I use All-in-One (AIO) SEO plugin, so my meta parameters are added automatically in these boxes. You can see this in the screenshot which shows my preliminary meta parameters:

My preliminary meta parameters (meta title and meta description) added by AIO plugin.
My preliminary meta parameters (meta title and meta description) added by AIO plugin.

As you see, both are cut off by the plugin, this is not the best option, so I can edit them manually. But see more about this below.

Below I discuss the two types of titles separately.


Changing the title of a post/page

Here is a list of rules/best practices which you might bear in mind when you deal with the title.

1. If you change the title after the text is published, do not touch URL, otherwise this will cause 404 errors.

2. Normally, your title will contain your targeted keyword, so it is not in your interest to modify the keyword. This will not cause formal errors, but this is what I would call a really bad practice. Keep your targeted keyword as it is.

3. There may be exceptions from the rules 1 and 2. For example, if your post is lost in Google, no ranking at all, you may decide to start from the beginning. You will change the targeted keyword and URL and start from zero. Of course, you will lose all your comments if you have had them.

You can still use the same text but modified accordingly, following the rules and practices about keywords and ranking. Do not forget to delete the previous version (with the old URL) before you publish the new one.

4. I have seen people publishing posts/pages without the formal title. This means that they do not type the title in the title box in the editor. Instead, they type it directly in the text part in the editor.

One reason for doing this could be that they want bigger letters. Normally the size of the letters which you get when you type the title in the title box, is defined and you cannot change it directly when you type, but there are ways of course.

This is a very bad practice. If you miss to type the title in the title box, your targeted keyword does not appear automatically in the URL. Of course you can edit the URL separately, but it seems people forget to do this. This is one of the worst mistakes you can do.

In such cases some numbers are added automatically in the URL, see one example which I have just found on the Internet:

This is URL of a post published without a formal post title.
This is an URL of an actual post published without a formal post title, where the URL is created automatically.

5. After the post is published (following the proper procedure, the title in the title box, etc.), you can go back to the editor and delete the title in the title box, and you can retype it in the text area below. The URL will not change, but keep an eye on it.


One extra note:

When you write a post or page, you can use different keywords in the url and in the title. I have seen a video by Matt Cutts where he describes what he did long ago in one of his posts and he was top ranked. My guess is (because he did not elaborate on this) that your targeted keyword in this case should be the one which you use in the URL, so you will use it in the rest of the text. So this is something that may work, just bear in mind all the items mentioned above.



How about changing meta title

As I mentioned above, the meta title (as well as the meta description) is created automatically by the plugin. But you may want to design it yourself.

Meta title and meta description, together with the permalink (URL) are the three elements of your snippet. This is what people see first from your text when they search the Internet. It is essential to have them designed properly, to stand out from the rest what people see in the screen.

But there is problem with this. Google changes your meta data (your snippet), and shows different snippets to different people! What they see depends on their previous search history.

Does this sound familiar to you? Yes, Google Adsense works on the same principle.

The bottom line is: you do not have control over it. Regardless what you do, and how you design your meta parameters, it is very possible that only you will see it as you have designed it. The worst thing is that many people are not aware of it. They do not know that their snippets are frequently disregarded by Google.

How frequently? I cannot answer. You may try to test this and search for your keyword from different computers, to see what you get as the snippet.

Now, what I am saying here is no secret. There are numerous examples where people form Google describe what they do. Below, I give three videos which show what I am writing here.


Conclusion

So back to the starting question, should you change page title in WordPress after the text is published. Yes you should if it does not work. Adding a catchy word may change everything. So do not hesitate if you realize it is necessary to do so. I change titles a lot, in particular in my another site about mountains.

Thank you for reading. I shall be happy to have some comment from you, there is a comment box below.

Have a nice day.


There are several YouTube videos by Matt Cutts from Google, about all the reasons why they change meta parameters. Here is one from 2009:


I found yet another one more recent, from 2014:


Here is one video from this year (2016), yet another representative of Google who says the same, they show different things to different people. It is a bit long, so if you have no time go to 21:30:


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