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Source: Search Engine Roundtable

Source: Search Engine Roundtable

Chances are you are just beginning to get adjusted to Google’s widely-talked about search engine result pages (SERPs), but you may not have noticed the smaller details that have been tweaked to make the page look clean and coherent. For example, several eagle-eyed members of the SEO community have noticed that the redesign appears to have affected the visible title tag length for results.

The title tag, or the blue clickable link in the Google search results, doesn’t really have a defined number of characters allowed. It isn’t like Twitter, where you have a hard character limit. Instead, Google uses an algorithm to determine exactly how many characters are shown.

Obviously, Google hasn’t disclosed the details of their algorithm, but Pete Meyers from Moz says the title lengths range from 42 to 68 characters allowed, with most showing 57 to 58 characters.

Most importantly, this change has no direct impact on rankings. Google still reads your entire title and uses everything to helped determine rankings. However, this could make some titles less click friendly or attractive as they used to be.

You won’t be punished directly by Google for using the same strategy you previously have for titles tags, but you might refine your technique slightly to keep future titles as appealing to readers as possible.

When you write about SEO regularly, it is easy to get caught up on the things that are changing and shifting, but we often forget about the old standards of SEO and how they might fit into the new climate.

If you take a look, you will see there aren’t many articles about the importance of quality title tags in the past months or even year, even though it is one of the most powerful elements on a page. Just the title tag alone can tell a search engine your relevance to a topic of search term, distinguish yourself to searchers, and even draw in visitors, all in a single line.

Crafting a great title is deceptively difficult. It would seem creating a single line statement of the purpose of your page should be quick and simple, but crafting one that will make your page alluring to both search engines and customers alike is a complicated trick.

First, you need to match the recommended guidelines, and good luck finding a consistent set. I have seen anywhere from 50 to 70 characters suggested as the maximum you should include in a title, but so long as you are around 60 characters there shouldn’t be much of a concern. Going over risks having the terrible ellipsis trailing your truncated title.

Of course, there is no evidence Google doesn’t see all the text in your title, even when it is obscured by the “…”, but why waste the text? Searchers won’t get the entire topic you are addressing, and the extra 15 characters a search engine sees likely won’t help you. Doing something like trying to stuff keywords in after the ellipsis would actually hurt you.

Once you’ve met the common guidelines, there becomes a problem. Everyone wants a simply formula that will work every time, and one simply doesn’t exist. Every website is different, and making a title tag that is correct for your brand depends on your message and what you want to emphasize.

An amazing amount of information can be coded into 60 characters. You can tell searchers the product of brand name, descriptors, price, and many other aspects of your page simply in one sentence with very careful word choice. For products, you want to fit in as many hard facts about the products as you can in that small space. Search Engine Journal suggests product name, number, size, color, and unique features could all be included in the title, while with blog posts you want to tell searchers what question or topic you will be addressing clearly.

Just because there isn’t a magic formula for titles, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned with them. A weak title tag will get your pages ignored by everyone that sees your listing, while a quality one will stop casual browsers and show them exactly what they were looking for. Stand out and make your titles fantastic.