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SEO Website Audit

Title Tag Length

January 30, 2013

Hi Jill,

Image Credit: theilrI am talking to a potential client who has title tags that are over 300 characters in length. Everywhere I have read that title tags should be no longer than 65 to 70 characters, and this is clearly beyond that... I am surprised to see that the site has such high rankings for many of the keyword phrases, even at the tail end of the title tag.

I realize it gets truncated and is not visible, but clearly Google is not penalizing them for this practice. If so, why aren't more sites doing this?

I am curious how you would approach this situation... if I suggest they shorten the title tag, they will probably lose some rankings. I was going to suggest we do a few tests on other pages where the rankings are not as high.

Just curious your thoughts on this.


++Jill's Response++

Hi Suzanne,

I disagree with what you've read on the subject. Regardless of how many articles spout some magic number of characters that a title tag can have—there is none. The character number refers only to approximately how much of the information in the tag will appear in the search results pages. But your title tag does not have to be limited to that number of characters. The main thing is that it shouldn't be keyword stuffed. I typically like about 10 to 12 words and have never, ever counted the number of characters.

If the site is doing well with the titles that they have, and they're not overly keyword stuffed, I'd leave them alone. If they're not getting as many clickthroughs as you'd expect, you may then want to consider revising them a bit. If nothing else, be sure that the most important descriptive information is placed first in the title tag.

Hope this helps!



Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of Jill Whalen High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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 Mary said:
I have never had a problem with title tags of any length, short or long, and do not agree with the current trend claiming that title tag should only be 70 characters long at most.

Google will eventually respond to this SEO trend as they reacted to other SEO trends that have become popular over the years. In my 9 years working with SEO Web design, I have seen many trends shot down by Google after they have become overused and therefore meaningless.

Thanks for your point of view on this issue. I really thought I was the only one fighting this popular belief!
 Kyle K. said:
70 characters is best practice. Not only from an SEO perspective but for usability as well. Just because you can use 300 characters, doesn't mean you should. It may be helping you now, but you will get hit when Google catches up. The same goes for link building practices and other onsite SEO. Just cause it is helping atm, don't think for a second that Google is going to turn a blind eye to tactics that they are against. In other words, "Drink the Google Kool-Aid"
 Hamza said:
I agree with Mary that Google will react to this new SEO trick. As far as I am concerned I don't think that number of characters has anything to do with SEO rankings for a Web page. This is just another seo myth.
 Jill Whalen said:
@Kyle, before Google catches up with what? You're saying that as if it's somehow spammy to have more than 70 characters. I couldn't disagree more. There's nothing for Google to "catch up" with IMO. Where do you get the idea that they are against Title tags with more than 70 characters?
 John Payne said:
Obviously there are two issues here.

First, how many characters can you have in the Title tag without negative consequences?

Second, how many characters does Google show in the SERPs.

I believe the most important thing is to get a good Title that both helps you rank for your preferred keywords, but that also entices the searcher to click your link. I like to think of the Title tag as a headline- if they don't find that interesting, then they'll move on. The Description tag then plays sub-heading to the Title.

I found an excellent tool called the Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool. It simulates a Googlle Search result- you enter and play with both the Title and Description tags until you see a result that will work to maximise your clickthrough. As a matter of interest, they calculate the width of the Title tag in pixels, not characters. I just did a test on the tool, feeding it with a series of Capital X's, which take up a lot of pixel width. The tool truncated this 'Title tag' to 44 characters. I then fed the tool with a seties of lower-case i's, which are very narrow in width. This time the tool displayed 110 characters in the 'Title tag'..

I find this tool very useful, Jill, any thoughs from your experience, particularly on the pixel width vs. number of characters question?
 Jill Whalen said:
Yes SEOMofo's demonstration that it is not the number of characters that show anyway, makes there even more reason to stop counting them!

I personally don't care if the entire title tag shows.
 Lloyd Robinson said:
This very good information.I have always been told your title tag is too long yet my ranking is very good for website age.
 Marketsharer said:
Titles too long ? Here is some interesting support from John Mu and Mariya:

 Kris K said:
In my own opinion, I'm not entirely sure why would someone create a title tag that is more than 50-60 characters, I mean what's the sense of that?
 Georgie Hope said:
Many website owners do not do SEO or may not have even heard of it. Many do not have control of the length of the title tag. They have CMS that just convert the page or blog post title to the title tag. So I suspect that there would be many more sites that have long title tags compared to short. Google would know this. These title tags are unlikely to be stuffed with keywords as the site owner will not be doing keyword research.
 Roy Bowles said:
Our site is forever saying that title descriptions are too long. We change them and damage our ranking. This is such a grey area for websites that it becomes a gamble as to whether it gets changed or just leave it. After reading this article it would seem that it is a myth, over loading it with keywords i agree could have an adverse effect but as to the length of it, i think its time to maybe stop wasting time trying to change them about all the time.