Google Replacing Page Titles in Search Results With On-Page Headings
When Bing launched on the scene, one of the more interesting points they to make the organic results appear more relevant was to use link anchor text to augment page titles (where relevant). This would mean if people search for a phrase that is most likely in your title (but maybe your page title is missing a word or two from the search) then Bing might put that text into the page title area listings of they were in some of the link anchor text pointing to your page.
Before being switched over to Bing Yahoo! would sometimes show H1 headings as the clickable link to your website. Bing also uses on page heading to augment page titles.
Based on past evidence if Google has thought it would appear more relevant to searchers sometimes they have shown more relevant machine generated pieces of your pages.
Recently Google has grown more experimental on this front, being willing to use link anchor text and on-page headings as part of the listing. In addition, if the page title is short, Google may add the site’s name at the end of the title.
Here is an example in Google of the page title being replaced by part of an on-page heading & also showing the site’s name being added to the end of the link.
And here is the associated on-page heading for the above
I have also seen a few examples of the link anchor text being added to the page title in Google, however it was on a client project & the client would prefer that I didn’t share his new site on an SEO blog with 10’s of thousands of readers. 😀
Last November Matt Cutts recently did a video on the topic of Google editing the page titles for relevancy & how it was a fairly new thing for Google. Even back then Google was quite conservative in editing the clickable link … I think they have only grown more aggressive on that front in the past month or so.