What’s the recommended title tag length? This is a common question I get doing SEO consulting. Don’t think character count, think pixels. Google’s new site design makes a major impact in search results.
In the past, the recommended character count for title tags was no more than 70 characters. With Google’s site re-design that’s all changed. To build the perfect title tag, start thinking in pixels vs. character counts. The new magic number is 512… pixels.
Say goodbye to character counts…
Unfortunately, there is no character count limit for title tags. The main reason being, Google uses Arial for its title font which is proportionally spaced. That means different characters have different widths. Take a look at the example below, each are both exactly 51 characters long:
As you can see, the title on the top fits, but the title that’s all caps doesn’t. This can make it tricky when trying to write the perfect title tag since it’s going to vary with each page. Here’s some things to take into consideration:
Title Tag Length Considerations
- Narrow letters are… narrow
Uh, duh! Yes, it’s obvious, but many times overlooked. Using l’s and i’s are going to take up very little space compared to the m’s and w’s. Believe it or not, but three lowercase l’s are actually narrower than one lowercase w.
- Capitalized letters take up more space
The example above perfectly illustrates this, though not sure why you would ever want to do this. Some instances, it makes sense like with the LEGO brand. CLICK ON ME FOR THE PERFECT ARTICLE is harder to read and just plain spammy.
- The query effects width
This is another commonly overlooked aspect of title tag. Remember that Google highlights (makes the font bold) the keywords a user searches for. Bolded characters take up a little more space, so make sure you leave a little extra room.
- If your title gets cut off, you’ll have fewer characters
When a title tag is too long, Google will cut it off and append a “…”. If that happens, you’ll lose a little more space due to the additional space required by the “…”.
If you absolutely need a character count to tell your writers or editors since the word “pixel” may be foreign to them, I’d recommend 55 characters is a reasonable safe title length limit.
No stress needed, cut-off characters count!
Even if your titles do get cut-off, don’t worry. Google still processes keywords beyond the cut-off (including for ranking purposes), and other formats, like vertical results and Google+, may display your full titles. Which brings me to the next question I get, “Do I need to go back and edit all of my titles?”
In most cases, no. Spending the time to go back and revise all of your title tags based on Google’s new design isn’t really worth it. I’d suggest looking at only your core/landing pages and make sure the search snippets look the way you want them to. Like with most “Google rules”, they could change at anytime, so don’t bust your butt trying to edit every page on your site.
Tips for the Perfect Title Tag
Whenever your creating a title tag for your page, here’s some things I always consider regardless the type of page it is.
- Should be highly relevant to the page. Consider the page content. What would a person search for to find this specific page? A good page title is made up of keyword phrases of value and/or high search volumes.
- Engage the searcher with a call to action. Create a title that makes people want to click on it. Boring titles like, “Title Tag Length” aren’t going to get as many clicks as “Title Tag Length: Think Pixels, Not Character Count“.
- Follow Google’s descriptive page title guidelines. Whether Bing wants to admit it or not, Google currently sets the guidelines for sites. Follow them! Read up on how they suggest to create descriptive page titles.
- Don’t stuff your title full of keywords. This is a huge no-no. Don’t try to outsmart Google. They spend billions of dollars hiring smarter people than you with advanced technologies you couldn’t dream of.
- Avoid using stop words. Words like “the“, “an” and “a” carry little to no keyword value. Try sticking to nouns, verbs and adjectives. This will also help with the limited length you have for title tags.
- Keep it unique. A well-optimized website won’t have multiple pages devoted to the same topic over and over again. This could cause duplicate content, another huge no-no. Ensure each page has a unique title reflecting the targeted keywords used in that page.