Title tags are one of the most vital aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) – the first point of contact between your website and a user. It makes sense, then, that you’d want this element to be as effective as possible. Google how to optimize title tags, and you’re sure to find hundreds of thousands of answers that range from keeping keywords to a minimum to making them unique. Something you’re sure to see a whole bunch of times is a reminder to keep them short.
SEO heavy-hitters have all shared their advice over the years. “Google favors title tags that are 50-60 characters,” they say. “Keep your titles under 60 characters, and 90 percent of them will display correctly,” some argue. Others suggest, somewhat vaguely, limiting the title tag length is “effective.” As for Google’s opinion, the search engine has never even remotely hinted at any hard and fast rules for title tag optimization, leaving experts to try and crack the code themselves.
Now, on the latest episode of Google’s Search Off The Record podcast, Google’s Gary Illyes has spoken, saying that the industry standard of title length has been externally created and not at all a reflection of Google’s standards. In fact, as far as Google’s concerned, there is no limit on the length of title tags at all. Illyes referred to length as an “externally made-up metric,” saying that the winning formula would be a title tag that is “descriptive and concise.” But this doesn’t necessarily have a number, and a lengthy title will never result in a penalty.
Of course, it makes sense why SEOs would universally have settled on the 60-character rule: Search engine results pages (SERPs) truncate titles, and if you want your full title to show up, you need to keep it relatively short. But this information from Illyes is a nice reminder that if your title needs to be a little longer – and sometimes, inevitably, it will – it doesn’t matter to the people whose opinions matter most. Rather than focusing on title tag length, publishers should instead focus on the words that are necessary to accurately explain what a page is about.
So, what can you do to satisfy Google and compel users to click on your page? Aside from keeping them descriptive and concise, official Google documentation has this to say about creating good titles:
- Avoid keyword stuffing: It’s an SEO no-no that makes your titles look spammy and is practically guaranteed to turn users away. Avoid duplicate titles: Repeated titles make it impossible for users to distinguish between pages on your site. Brand your titles, but do it concisely: Apply branding where necessary, and where not, simply include your site name separated by a hyphen, colon or pipe.
There’s nothing here that we don’t already know, and title tags are something we don’t need to overthink. Consider how it will look on SERPs and the information you need to include, and don’t feel constrained by a character limit that doesn’t exist. Title tag optimization is really that simple!
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