In Q4 of last year, Google introduced site names for mobile search results. They also said this would roll out to desktop, which it did at beginning of the month.
As you can see in the image above, site names clarify the website associated with a search result.
So how does this affect SEO?
Since most sites are responsive, it now makes sense definitively to remove branding at the end of your title tags!
Instead of being redundant, use these characters for targeting a more specific keyword phrase, making your title more compelling by provoking curiosity, or adding a call-to-action.
However, these sorts of changes are only taken as suggestions by Google.
For example, the same page shown in the image above has valid structured data for breadcrumbs yet this was not included.
So know there’s no guarantee that Google will use your site name, title or anything else you define.
This is very frustrating with something important like hreflang tags, with Google often ignoring them to favor more popular pages with similar content. Therefore, I often recommend a non-intrusive pop-up with the option to redirect the user as a failsafe.
Despite today’s excitement for AI & machine learning, don’t overlook the less sexy yet vital aspects of SEO… like new best practices as search evolves!