Google has released some really needed updates to its site names feature in Google Search. Site names are now supported on subdomains on all devices in English, French, German, and Japanese languages. Google also made other improvements and added workarounds when Google gets your site name wrong, Google announced.
Site names. Site names is the title and name of the site Google shows in the search results listings. “When Google lists a page in search results, it shows the name of the site the page comes from,” Google explained.
Subdomain support expanded. Google added support for site names with subdomains on mobile devices only, for English, French, German, and Japanese. Now it also works for all devices, not just subdomains.
Here is an example from Google’s own site.
Updated guidance. Google also updated its guidance on how to communicate your preferred site name to Google Search. Google wrote, “As a reminder, the best way to indicate a preferred site name to Google is to make use of
WebSite structured data, as explained on our site name documentation.”
Also, Google now encourages more use of the
alternateName property when sometimes a preferred site name isn’t available for your site.
Workarounds for site names. Google also listed a few workarounds for when the preferred or alternative names are not selected by Google Search. Google posted new workarounds in its help documentation that lists these workarounds:
- First, try providing an alternative name using the
alternateNameproperty. If our site name system isn’t confident enough to use your preferred name, it strongly considers this option.
- Provide your domain or subdomain name as a backup option. To provide 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 (for example,
Example.com) for our system to detect this as a site name preference. Our system will strongly consider using it if your preferred name isn’t selected. In this example, Burnt Toast is the most preferred option, followed by BT, and ending with the domain example.com 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 example.com.
Need support. Having issues with your site name? Google posted a support thread in the Google support forums over here, including more FAQs.
We saw some issues with site names, some of which Google resolved. This should resolve more of those issues. In fact, I did capture some before and after examples and posted them this morning on the Search Engine Roundtable.
What it looks like. Here is where the site name shows in the search result snippet:
Site names timeline. Here is the timeline Google posted of the evolution of site names since it launched 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. Google back in October explained that Google Search uses a number of ways to identify the site name for the search result. But if you want, you can use structured data on your home page to communicate to Google what the site name should be for your site. Google has specific documentation on this new Site name structured data available over here.
Upgrading the favicon. 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 is also rolled out to the Google search ads on desktop, so the size of the site name, favicons, and also the ad label will be more prominent in mobile search. In fact, Google rolled out the “Sponsored” label in mobile search last October and today on desktop, officially replacing the “Ads” label from January 2020.
Why we care. Google has made several improvements to how it selects and shows your site name in the Google Search results. If Google is still getting it wrong and you are following the documentation, then maybe try some of those new workarounds to get your site name showing exactly how you want it in Google Search.