Should You & How to Change Page Title In WordPress After It Is Published

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We are sometimes tempted to modify and change page title in WordPress after the text is published. So should you and how to change page title in WordPress after it is published?

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 post titles in WordPress

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.
  • The meta title.

The meta title is what you have in the SEO part in the editor. I use the All-in-One (AIO) SEO plugin, so my meta parameters are added automatically in these boxes. But I usually modify the meta title so that it fits the prescribed limit of characters. For example, my meta title for this post is How to Change Page Title In WordPress After It Is Published. As you see it is not the same as the post title above.

Changing the title of a post/page

Here is a list of rules or 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. So if possible 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. But there are plugins for this purpose so that you can move comments from one post to anther.

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). It is best to do this 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.

In any case, 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.

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. This is something that may work, just bear in mind all the items mentioned above.

How about changing the 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 may change 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 the meta title. Regardless of 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.

So, 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 from Google describe what they do. Below, I give three videos which show some details of what I am writing about here.

Conclusion

So back to the starting question, should you and how to change page title in WordPress after it 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 my sites.

If you discover a better keyword, you might also want to change the URL. But this is not the best practice. If you do this, then you will have to do a proper 301 redirect.

There are several YouTube videos by Matt Cutts from Google, about all the reasons why they change meta parameters. Here is one from 2009, yes I know it is old, but Google still works the same way.

I found yet another one, this time from 2014. My guess is that Matt Cutts is not in the same T-shirt:

Here is one video from 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. As mentioned above related to the meta title, do your best and leave it there, there is nothing more you can do if Google decides to change it in SERPs.

You might want to check also my text about long tail keywords. If you are in search of an Internet business teaching and site hosting platform, come to the place where I am with my sites. In this way you can have help from me and from many other people that use the same platform.

Read also my thoughts about removing posts dates in SERPs. Thank you for reading. I shall be happy to have some comment from you, there is a comment box below. Have a nice day.

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