The ideal length of a Title Tag, also referred to as SEO Title, Meta Title & Page Title, has long been a point of debate between SEO professionals.
On one side of the fence, we have SEO experts stating that Title Tags need to be between 50 and 70 characters in length (including spaces) whilst others state that this length doesn’t matter.
Who is right?
Let’s dive into that subject…
What Is The Title Tag?
The Title Tag is an HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) element that allows us to give our page a name.
This HTML element is one of the strongest single on-page SEO ranking factors that we can directly influence to tell Google what our page should rank for in their search results.
That makes this tag a huge deal!
Check out our guidelines on creating the perfect Title Tag here.
What Is The Industry Advice On Title Tag Length?
Since before we can remember, it was a ‘rule’ that Title Tags should be something between 50 and 70 characters as anything more than this won’t be read. However, when the world (and Google) went mobile-first, this then decreased to something between 45 and 60 characters.
What gives? Did Google suddenly stop reading the last 10 characters of my Title Tags?
No. Not at all.
Here’s the current* advice taken from the sites of some SEO industry leaders.
Ahrefs Title Tag Advice
Looking at the Ahrefs blog, which is a fantastic resource for learning the basics of SEO, we can see that they suggest a short Title Tag between 50 to 60 characters:
Moz Title Tag Advice
Moz has been a thought leader in the SEO space since 2004 when Rand Fishkin started publishing SEO advice on his blog to help demystify the dark art that many people were selling. However, they also suggest creating a Title Tag that is under 60 characters in length:
SEMRush Title Tag Advice
When doing keyword or competitor research, SEMRush is a site that you will come across as being a tool to provide you with all of this data in one helpful place. Like many SEO tools, these guys also have an awesome blog full of useful advice. Their first point in ‘How to make your Title Tags work for SEO’ is actually to keep them around 55 to 60 characters in length:
Reading these, you would assume that it’s pretty cut and dry.
Keep your Title Tags somewhere between 50 to 60 characters long and your page will be well optimised, right?
Let’s go to the source and see what oracles say.
What Is Google’s Advice On Title Tag Length?
Since Google accounts for 92.47% of global search, they effectively make up the rules for us all to follow.
On an episode of “Search Off The Record”, a podcast by Google delving into the world of Google Search and its inner workings, Title Tag length is actually a topic that was talked about.
In this episode, John Mueller (Search Advocate at Google), asked Gary Illyes (Google Webmaster Trends Analyst) the following question:
“Is there a value in having Title Tags that are longer than the displayable space and
the sections of it?”
To which, Gary Illyes replied:
“Yes…The Title length, that’s an externally made-up metric. I think at one point, we blurted out some number to say that ‘Yeah, it should be this length, just shut up.’ That might not be true, actually. 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…”
He then went on to add:
“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.”
As a follow up to this, Martin Split (Developer Relations at Google) asked Gary:
“Are you saying it’s not the size that matters about the technique?”
Whilst this was received with a lot of laughter, the simple answer from Gary Illyes was “Yes”.
You can read the full transcript of this podcast here:
Or better yet, you can listen to it here:
Why Do SEO Experts Recommend Something Different To Google?
You may be looking at these two wildly different views on the same topic and thinking, “Well, who’s right then?”
The answer is, both of them. Ish.
What the industry expert advice is based on is the visible search results. Those magical links on the first (and every other) page of Google.
If you follow their advice and stick to a Title Tag of 50-60 characters in length, odds are, the full text will be visible in the search results.
However, that doesn’t mean that everything else that has been truncated (cut off) isn’t beneficial.
Google looks at everything in the Title Tag as they don’t have a limit. Therefore, by going outside this 50 to 60 character range, we have the opportunity to add a bit more optimisation for our page. Sure, the user may not see it in the search results, but it will help drive performance for those phrases.
What Do We Recommend For Title Tag Length?
Going back to the initial question of what the ideal Title Tag length is, we can answer that with the age-old SEO answer of “It depends”.
Our job as an SEO is to provide recommendations based on our knowledge and experience to help your site perform as well as possible within the search results.
If we’re looking to gain visibility for your site in Google, we would recommend that you create concise and targeted Title Tags that cover the main phrases that we want the pages to rank for. If that Title Tag then goes over the industry recommended 50 to 60 characters, then so be it!
Working in the travel industry, we come across a number of locations that have weird and wonderful names. A real favourite of ours is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Wales.
It’s a real place, honest. Look it up.
However, if we were looking to help a client promote holidays to this location, how would we possibly do that when the name of this town is already 58 characters long?
Therefore, you should create a Title Tag that makes the most sense and covers the main target phrases.
The Great Title Tag Scandal Of 2021
In August-21, site owners and SEO’s started noticing that Google were rewriting their carefully crafted Title Tags to be something completely different.
You can read more about how they do this here, in the news update from the Google Search Central Blog.
So what does this mean for the Title Tags you’ve spent months perfecting?
Google changed the way Title Tags are shown in the search results to help improve click-through rates to relevant pages. This doesn’t always happen but their tests have shown it to have a positive impact.
However, the Title Tags we create for our pages are still used by Google when they decide what pages should rank for which search queries.
So this means, you can spend the time creating well-optimised Title Tags for your pages that will generate the ranking visibility we’re after without worrying about them being too long because odds are, Google are going to show something completely different in the search results anyway.
If you spot Google updating your Title Tag to something different to what it currently is, please do not take that as a hint from Google that this is what your Title Tag should actually be. They are changing these based on the search query, the content on the page and what they think people are looking for.
If you’re looking to push your site forward in the search results, then please check out our free video course or request one of our free proposals. Alternatively, get in touch and find out about the range of SEO marketing services we offer to small and medium businesses in the travel industry.
*current as of October-21
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