Google Search Implements Updates and Fixes for Site Name Feature

Following extensive dissatisfaction with the new Site Names feature in Google search, the tech giant has introduced some much-needed enhancements. Google has announced key updates to the site names feature in Google Search. The feature, which represents the title and name of a website displayed in search result listings, is now supported on subdomains across all devices, in English, French, German, and Japanese languages. In addition, Google has implemented other enhancements and provided alternatives for instances where Google incorrectly displays your site name.

Support for subdomains. Initially, Google introduced support for site names with subdomains on mobile devices only, in English, French, German, and Japanese languages. Now, this functionality has been extended to all devices, not just those with subdomains.

Guidance revisions. Google has also revised its guidance on indicating your preferred site name to Google Search. The company noted, “Remember, the most effective method to indicate a preferred site name to Google is to employ WebSite structured data, as described in our site name documentation.”

Moreover, Google now promotes the usage of the alternateName property when a preferred site name for your site is not accessible.

Alternatives for site names. Google has also proposed a few alternatives for when the preferred or alternative names are not chosen by Google Search. Google has updated its help documentation to list these alternatives:

Initially, consider providing an alternative name using the alternateName property. If our site name system doesn’t have enough confidence to use your preferred name, this option will be strongly considered. Provide your domain or subdomain name as a secondary option. To offer your domain or subdomain as a backup option, add your domain or subdomain name as your alternative name. Your domain or subdomain needs to be in all lowercase (e.g., not for our system to detect this as a site name preference. Our system will strongly consider using it if your preferred name isn’t chosen. In this example, Burnt Toast is the most preferred option, followed by BT, and ending with the domain as the final name preference. If that’s still not working, then try providing your domain or subdomain name (in all lowercase) as your preferred name, as a last-resort workaround option. If you provide your domain or subdomain name as your preferred name, our system will generally select that (but we recommend only doing this as a last resort). In this example, the only preference is the domain Support required. Experiencing issues with your site name? Google has created a support thread in the Google support forums, including more FAQs.

We observed some issues with site names, some of which Google resolved. This should address more of those problems. In fact, I have compiled some before and after examples and posted them this morning on the Search Engine Roundtable. Site names timeline. Google published the following timeline of the development of site names since its inception in October:

October 2022: Site names for the domain level were introduced for mobile search results for English, French, German, and Japanese. April 2023 (I have this as March): Site names were added for desktop for the same set of languages. May 2023: Site names are now supported on the subdomain level for the same set of languages and on mobile search results only. Controlling site names. In October, Google clarified that Google Search uses a variety of methods to identify the site name for the search result. However, you can use structured data on your home page to tell Google what the site name should be for your site. Google has specific documentation on this new Site name structured data available here.

Favicon update. Google also recommended revisiting the documentation for favicons for the latest best practices. Google is now also suggesting you provide an icon that’s at least 48 pixels and follows the existing favicon guidelines.

Ads. This has also been rolled out to Google search ads on desktop, so the size of the site name, favicons, and also the ad label will be more noticeable in mobile search. In fact, Google launched the “Sponsored” label in mobile search last October and today on desktop, officially replacing the “Ads” label from January 2020.

Why it matters. Google has made several enhancements to how it selects and displays your site name in the Google Search results. If Google is still getting it wrong and you are adhering to the documentation, then perhaps try some of those new workarounds to ensure your site name is displayed exactly as you want it in Google Search.