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Google Says There’s No Limit on Title Tag Length

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Google Says There’s No Limit on Title Tag Length

Gary Illyes shared if there are any hard limits to how long title tags can be during a Google Off the Record podcast. He then explained what the best title tag is.

How Long Should a Title Tag Be?

Title tags are technically measured in pixels. It’s typically recommended that title tags be from fifty to about seventy characters long.

Those character limits are based on how the titles display on desktop and mobile devices.

Title tags that are longer than what Google displays in the search engine results pages (SERPs) will be shown cut off, which means that nobody will be able to read the full title tag in the SERPs if it’s longer than approximately 70 characters.

Many SEOs and SEO websites recommend a title tag length of approximately 50 to 70 characters because that’s what Google shows in the SERPs.

But that is not anything Google recommends to the SEO community. That 50 to 70 character length for a title is something the SEO community invented as a standard based on what Google is able to display.

But those display limits are based on what a mobile and desktop browsers are able to show.

Title Tag Length Recommendations Are Not for Ranking Purposes

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Nobody at Google has ever said that the 40 to 70 character limits are what Google’s ranking algorithms are limited to indexing for ranking purposes.

So it does not make sense to accept the advise for limiting the title tag to 70 characters for ranking purposes when that recommendation is based on what is displayed.

You can search around and you will see that 70 characters is the recommended limit for title tags.

SEO Industry Recommended Title Tag Length

Moz Title Tag Recommendation

Moz’s title tag length recommendation is 50 – 60 characters but Moz correctly notes that there is no actual limit to how many characters can be used.

Optimal title length
Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag. If you keep your titles under 60 characters, our research suggests that you can expect about 90% of your titles to display properly.

There’s no exact character limit, because characters can vary in width and Google’s display titles max out (currently) at 600 pixels.”

Ahrefs Title Tag Recommendation

Ahrefs recommends that title tags stay within the 50 to 60 characters, with no caveat about there being no actual character limits as Moz documented.

“Google starts cutting off title tags in the SERPs after around 50–60 characters. (Well, it’s actually based on pixels, but 50–60 characters is a good rule of thumb.)

So keep your title tags around this length.”

SEMRush Recommends Limiting Title Tag Length

SEMRush goes one step further and recommends limiting the title tag length for “effectiveness.”

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Limit The Size Of Your Title Tag
The most effective title tags are around 10-70 characters long. These include spaces so keep this in mind when coming up with your Title Tags.

If it is too long, the title tag will be cut off from the display not revealing the full message.”

Google’s Gary Illyes on Optimal Title Tag Length

Google’s John Mueller asked Gary Illyes about title tag length.

John Mueller:

“I have a question that is, maybe, just a yes or no thing, Gary. “Is there a value in having <i>title</i> tags that are longer than the displayable space and the sections of it?”

Gary Illyes gives a direct answer without any hedging or ambiguity about if there’s any value in having a longer title tag.

Gary Illyes answered:

“Yes.”

After some lighthearted jocularity between Martin Splitt, Gary and Mueller the question was revisited.

Martin Splitt asked:

“Christina’s asking if we can get a reason for the <i>title</i> tag length answer, Gary.”

Gary expanded on his original answer by noting that the title tag length that is typically recommended is something that comes from outside of Google.

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Gary Illyes:

“The <i>title</i> length, that’s an externally made-up metrics.”

After some attempts at humor and general merriment between Gary and Martin they soon returned to  answering the question.

Gary Illyes Explains Why He Does Not Recommend Title Tag Length

In his answer Gary Illyes mentions “tokenizing” but without explaining what that means. Understanding tokenization will help understand his answer.

Tokenization is something that is done in natural language processing and information retrieval. It’s a way to edit a document into chunks that make it easier to understand what sentences and words mean. Some chunks are sentences and some chunks are single words.

Stanford University defines tokenization like this:

“Given a character sequence and a defined document unit, tokenization is the task of chopping it up into pieces, called tokens , perhaps at the same time throwing away certain characters, such as punctuation.

These tokens are often loosely referred to as terms or words, but it is sometimes important to make a type/token distinction.

A token is an instance of a sequence of characters in some particular document that are grouped together as a useful semantic unit for processing. A type is the class of all tokens containing the same character sequence.”

Now that we have a light understanding of tokenization we can make more sense of Gary’s answer.

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One last thing though, Gary mentions a “manual action.” A manual action is a penalty given by Google that can stop a page from ranking.

Gary Illyes:

“The reason why I try to steer people away from thinking about concrete numbers is it’s not even about how we display titles, but rather, how we construct our serving index and how we tokenize the page itself.

Technically, there’s a limit, like how long can it be anything in the page, but it’s not a small number. It’s not 160 characters or whatever– 100, 200, 20, or whatever.”

Gary follows up with advice on title tags:

“Try to keep it precise to the page, but I would not think too much about how long it is and whether it’s long enough or way too long.

If it fills up your screen, then probably it’s too long, but if it just one sentence that fits on one line or two lines, you’re not going to get a manual action for it.”

Google Does Not Recommend a Title Tag Size

Nowhere in Google’s webmaster and developer title tag support pages does Google recommend an optimal title tag size.

The recommendations to keep title tags under seventy characters long originated outside of Google, they are not Google’s recommendation.

The official statement from Google is that there is no limit (per Gary Illyes). The official Google recommendation is to be descriptive and concise. Concise means to say the most with the least amount of words, to be precise in the use of words, and avoiding being wordy.

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According to Google’s official title tag developer support page:

“Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query.

Page titles should be descriptive and concise. Avoid vague descriptors like “Home” for your home page, or “Profile” for a specific person’s profile.

Also avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get truncated when they show up in the search results.”

Best Title Tag Length

According Google’s Gary Illyes and Google’s official documentation, it is recommended to use as many words as is necessary to communicate what a page is about. When writing the title tag it’s also important to be direct while also being mindful of how that title tag may look when displayed in the SERPs.

Taking everything together it’s probably safe to craft title tags in a concise and accurate manner and to be mindful of how it will appear in the SERPs and influence clicks, as Google’s developer support pages recommend.

However if your company name or branding at the end of the title tag pushes it over 70 characters then that’s not something to worry about in terms of that artificial 70 character title tag limit.

Regardless of how the title tag is displayed, Google will still take into account the entire title tag.

Citations

Transcript of Google Search Off the Record 15th Podcast Episode (PDF)

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Listen to the 15th Episode of the Search Off the Record Podcast

Searchenginejournal.com

See also  New Google Blog Series About Search Console & Data Studio

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How to Write For Google

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How to Write For Google


Are you writing your SEO content based on the latest best practice tips?

I originally wrote this SEO copywriting checklist in 2012—my, how things have changed. Today, Google stresses quality content even more than before, conversational copy is critical, and there are revised SEO writing “rules.” 

I’ve updated the list to reflect these changes and to provide additional information.

As a side note, I would argue that there’s no such thing as “writing for Google.” Yes, there are certain things you should do to make the Google gods happy. However, your most important goal should be writing clear, compelling, standout copy that tells a story. 

I’m keeping the old headline in the hopes that I can convert some of the “write for Google” people to do things the right way.

Whether you’re an in-house SEO content writer, a DIY business owner, or a freelance SEO copywriter, this 27-point checklist will help you write engaging, Google-happy content—every time.

Items to review before you start your SEO writing project

 

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– Do you have enough information about your target reader?

Your copy will pack a powerful one-two punch if your content is laser-focused on your target reader. Ask your client or supervisor for a customer/reader persona document outlining your target readers’ specific characteristics. If the client doesn’t have a customer persona document, be prepared to spend an hour or more asking detailed questions. 

Here’s more information on customer personas.

 

– Writing a sales page? Did you interview the client?

It’s essential to interview new clients and to learn more about their company, USP, and competition. Don’t forget to ask about industry buzzwords that should appear in the content.

Not sure what questions to ask to get the copywriting ball rolling? Here’s a list of 56 questions you can start with today. 

 

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– Writing a blog post? Get topic ideas from smart sources

When you’re blogging, it’s tempting to write about whatever strikes your fancy. The challenge is, what interests you may not interest your readers. If you want to make sure you’re writing must-read content, sites like Quora, LinkedIn, Google Trends, and BuzzSumo can help spark some ideas.

 

– Did you use Google for competitive intelligence ideas?

Check out the sites positioning in the top-10 and look for common characteristics. How long are competing articles? Do the articles link out to authoritative sources? Are there videos or infographics? Do the articles include quotes from industry experts? Your job is to write an essay that’s better than what’s already appearing in the top-10 — so let the competition be your guide.

 

– Did you conduct keyphrase research?

Yes, keyphrase research (and content optimization) is still a crucial SEO step. If you don’t give Google some keyphrase “cues,” your page probably won’t position the way you want.

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Use a keyphrase research tool and find possible keyphrases for your page or post. As a hint: if you are tightly focusing on a topic, long-tail keyphrases are your best bet. Here’s more information about why long-tail keyphrases are so important.

If you are researching B2B keyphrases, know that the “traditional” keyphrase research steps may not apply. Here’s more information about what to do if B2B keyphrase research doesn’t work.

See also  Google: Customer Reviews Not A Signal For Web Search

 

– What is your per-page keyphrase focus?

Writers are no longer forced to include the exact-match keyphrase over and over again. (Hurray!) Today, we can focus on a keyphrase theme that matches the search intent and weave in multiple related keyphrases.

 

– Did you expand your keyphrase research to include synonyms and close variants?

Don’t be afraid to include keyphrase synonyms and close variants on your page. Doing so opens up your positioning opportunities, makes your copy better, and is much easier to write!

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Are you wondering if you should include your keyphrases as you write the copy — or edit them in later? It’s up to you! Here are the pros and cons of both processes.

 

 — Do your keyphrases match the search intent?

Remember that Google is “the decider” when it comes to search intent. If you’re writing a sales page — and your desired keyphrase pulls up informational blog posts in Google – your sales page probably won’t position. 

 

— Writing a blog post? Does your Title/headline work for SEO, social, and your readers?

Yes, you want your headline to be compelling, but you also want it to be keyphrase rich. Always include your main page keyphrase (or a close variant) in your Title and work in other keyphrases if they “fit.”

Here’s some excellent information on how to write headlines that get noticed (and that are good for Google.) You can also use headline-analyzing tools to double-check your work.

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– Did you include keyphrase-rich subheadlines?

Subheadlines are an excellent way to visually break up your text, making it easy for readers to quick-scan your benefits and information. Additionally, just like with the H1 headline, adding a keyphrase to your subheadlines can (slightly) help reinforce keyphrase relevancy.

As a hint, sometimes, you can write a question-oriented subheadline and slip the keyphrase in more easily. Here’s more information about why answering questions is a powerful SEO content play.

 

Is your Title “clickable” and compelling?

Remember, the search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion. Focusing too much on what you think Google “wants” may take away your Title’s conversion power. 

Consider how you can create an enticing Title that “gets the click” over the other search result listings. You have about 59 characters (with spaces) to work with, so writing tight is essential. 

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– Does the meta description fit the intent of the page?

Yes, writers should create a meta description for every page. Why? Because they tell the reader what the landing page is about and help increase SERP conversions. Try experimenting with different calls-to-actions at the end, such as “learn more” or “apply now.” You never know what will entice your readers to click!

 

– Is your content written in a conversational style?

With voice search gaining prominence, copy that’s written in a conversational style is even more critical.

Read your copy out loud and hear how it sounds. Does it flow? Or does it sound too formal? If you’re writing for a regulated industry, such as finance, legal, or healthcare, you may not be able to push the conversational envelope too much. Otherwise, write like you talk.

See also  15 Awesome Paid SEO Tools That Are Worth the Money

Here’s how to explain why conversational content is so important.

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–Is your copy laser-focused on your audience?

A big mistake some writers make is creating copy that appeals to “everyone” rather than their specific target reader. Writing sales and blog pages that are laser-focused on your audience will boost your conversions and keep readers checking out your copy longer. Here’s how one company does it.

Plus, you don’t receive special “Google points” for writing long content. Even short copy can position if it fully answers the searcher’s query. Your readers don’t want to wade through 1,500 words to find something that can be explained in 300 words.

Items to review after you’ve written the page

 

– Did you use too many keyphrases?

Remember, there is no such thing as keyword density. If your content sounds keyphrase-heavy and stilted, reduce the keyphrase usage and focus more on your readers’ experience. Your page doesn’t receive bonus points for exact-matching your keyphrase multiple times. If your page sounds keyphrase stuffed when you read it out loud, dial back your keyphrase usage.

 

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– Did you edit your content?

Resist the urge to upload your content as soon as you write it. Put it away and come back to it after a few hours (or even the next day.) Discover why editing your Web writing is so very important. Also, don’t think that adding typos will help your page position. They won’t.

 

– Is the content interesting to read?

Yes, it’s OK if your copy has a little personality. Here’s more information about working with your page’s tone and feel and how to avoid the “yawn response.” Plus, know that even FAQ pages can help with conversions — and yes, even position.

 

– Are your sentences and paragraphs easy to read?

Vary your sentence structure so you have a combination of longer and shorter sentences. If you find your sentences creeping over 30 or so words, edit them down and make them punchier. Your writing will have more impact if you do.

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Plus, long paragraphs without much white space are hard to read off a computer monitor – and even harder to read on a smartphone. Split up your long paragraphs into shorter ones. Please.

 

– Are you forcing your reader onto a “dead end” page?

“Dead-end” pages (pages that don’t link out to related pages) can stop your readers dead in their tracks and hurt your conversion goals. 

Want to avoid this? Read more about “dead-end” Web pages.

 

– Does the content provide the reader with valuable information?

Google warns against sites with “thin,” low-quality content that’s poorly written. In fact, according to Google, spelling errors are a bigger boo-boo than broken HTML. Make sure your final draft is typo-free, written well, and thoroughly answers the searcher’s query.

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Want to know what Google considers quality content — directly from Google? Here are Google’s Quality Raters guidelines for more information.

 

– Did you use bullet points where appropriate?

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If you find yourself writing a list-like sentence, use bullet points instead. Your readers will thank you, and the items will be much easier to read.

Plus, you can write your bullet points in a way that makes your benefit statements pop, front and center. Here’s how Nike does it.

 

– Is the primary CTA (call-to-action) clear–and is it easy to take action?

What action do you want your readers to take? Do you want them to contact you? Buy something? Sign up for your newsletter? Make sure you’re telling your reader what you want them to do, and make taking action easy. If you force people to answer multiple questions just to fill out a “contact us” form, you run the risk of people bailing out.

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Here’s a list of seven CTA techniques that work.

 

– Do you have a secondary CTA (such as a newsletter signup or downloading a white paper?)

Do you want readers to sign up for your newsletter or learn about related products? Don’t bury your “sign up for our newsletter” button in the footer text. Instead, test different CTA locations (for instance, try including a newsletter signup link at the bottom of every blog post) and see where you get the most conversions.

 

– Does the page include too many choices?

It’s important to keep your reader focused on your primary and secondary CTAs. If your page lists too many choices (for example, a large, scrolling page of products), consider eliminating all “unnecessary” options that don’t support your primary call-to-action. Too many choices may force your readers into not taking any action at all.

 

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– Did you include benefit statements?

People make purchase decisions based on what’s in it for them (yes, even your B2B buyers.) Highly specific benefit statements will help your page convert like crazy. Don’t forget to include a benefit statement in your Title (whenever possible) like “free shipping” or “sale.” Seeing this on the search results page will catch your readers’ eyes, tempting them to click the link and check out your site.

 

– Do you have vertical-specific testimonials?

It’s incredible how many great sales pages are testimonial-free. Testimonials are a must for any site, as they offer third-party proof that your product or service is superior. Plus, your testimonials can help you write better, more benefit-driven sales pages and fantastic comparison-review pages.

Here’s a way to make your testimonials more powerful. 

And finally — the most important question:

 

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– Does your content stand out and genuinely deserve a top position?

SEO writing is more than shoving keyphrases into the content. If you want to be rewarded by Google (and your readers), your content must stand out — not be a carbon copy of the current top-10 results. Take a hard look at your content and compare it against what’s currently positioning. Have you fully answered the searcher’s query? Did you weave in other value-added resources, such as expert quotes, links to external and internal resources (such as FAQ pages), videos, and graphics? 

If so, congratulations! You’ve done your job. 



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