I blogged about this nearly 3 years ago, but some people didn’t believe me back then, and I imagine there are still plenty of skeptics now.
The title tag is one of the most heavily weighted on-page factors in Google’s algorithm. It is the one place where a few slight changes can result in huge ranking increases. So it makes perfect sense to me that Google would apply a temporary “penalty” to a website that changes them to frequently (or at least having that be one of the many triggers) – making it tougher to “game” the system.
If no such penalty were in place, we’d have a bunch of people always changing their title tags in an effort to out-optimize their competitors. And if everyone was doing it, it would be a lot like a dog trying to catch it’s tail. Which would just be a lot of wasted efforts, IMO.
You can almost always expect a slight drop in rankings after you initially change your title tags, but normally, depending on how active your site is, they will likely come back within a few days to a few weeks.
From my experience it takes about 4 to 8 months to work you way out of the penalty box for this particular type of penalty. Other penalties may be longer or shorter.
I just had another one of my nearly abandoned web projects recently work its way back from this type of penalty.
I strongly suspect this also applys to Google maps as well, however, I believe the triggers and penalties are applied much differently. Either way, pick an appropriate title and stick with it.
For the organic search results I don’t recommend changing your home page title tag more than a few times in a six month period, however, I don’t know what the exact number is. If you need to change them more often than that then you may risk triggering a red flag.
If your site has been penalized, then I recommend just doing what you normally do to properly increase your rankings (content, links, patience, etc.), just stop playing with the title and meta tags for awhile. A long while.
You could also try requesting re-inclusion or changing domain names entirely, but that really depends on your particular situation. I wouldn’t expect to get much help for Google if you’re not a major brand name.
I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this.