Discover how to harness the potential of ChatGPT for advanced keyword research in SEO with our comprehensive guide.
Improving your website’s Google SERP visibility is something that couldn’t be more important, and optimising your title tags is one key aspect of this. However, while many people think that character limits are a vital element of title tag optimisation, that isn’t actually the case.
Title tags are an essential SEO element that can have a significant impact on rankings, so it isn’t surprising that website owners are seeking to optimise their title tags to give their ranking a boost. There are lots of ways to go about optimising title tags, and one of those ways is ensuring that title tag length fits into the character limit of 55-60 characters.
There are also concerns about titles being truncated in the search results as well as worries about having titles rewritten by Google, and whether these things can have a negative effect on organic performance. So, here, we take a closer look at these concerns to find out whether they’re founded or no.
Google measures the number of title tag characters that it can display in the search engine results in pixels. If a title tag isn’t short enough to fit, Google may cut off some characters. To this end, back in 2021, an update was released by Google to allow a different title to be shown by Google to users to the HTML title tag in the SERPs.
Google may rewrite HTML title tags in the SERPS if they are overly keyword stuffed, containing or missing repetitive “boilerplate” language, or are too long. This update caused significant concerns within the SEO world after it was rolled out, since in some cases the rewriting of the title went wrong, with Google replacing the title tags with a range of page elements such as H1 tags, image file names, and image alt texts.
It’s no wonder that panic became widespread across the community, with many SEOs working hard to ensure their titles were within the specified character limit to avoid the potential issues of title rewrites.
There has certainly been a lot of confusion about Google’s stance regarding shorter title tags. While it seems clear that Google wants SERPs to have shorter titles, it isn’t so obvious whether potentially rewritten or cut off titles displayed within the SERPs will be used for rankings rather than the HTML title.
It isn’t surprising that SEOs are assuming that long titles will inevitably be rewritten or cut off and, thus, they won’t be considered by Google for rankings, with the new SERPs displayed title being considered for ranking instead. But what does Google officially have to say about title tag lengths?
An official from Google has stated clearly that there is value in having title tags which are longer than the available displayable space, pointing out that, while there is technically a limit, that number isn’t a small one. Google’s only recommendation with regard to title tag length is to “try keeping it precise.”
In fact, Google’s representative even stated that there is no point in thinking excessively about length. So long as the title tag doesn’t fill the entire screen, it’s not going to result in a manual action. Google’s SERPs titles documentation has no official recommendation regarding title tag lengths either.
It’s quite natural to assume that a long title tag that is rewritten or cut off in SERPs would have an impact on rankings, but Google have stated that this isn’t the case. Whether or not titles are rewritten or cut off in SERPs, the HTML title tag is used by Google for ranking – not the title displayed in SERPs.
As a result, there’s no need to shorten title tags in order to comply with the made-up figure of 55-60 characters. It seems clear that the metric that has been circulating for some time regarding title lengths has no evidence or facts supporting its use.
Although it appears that the 55-60 character limit has been made up at some point and isn’t actually relevant, it’s important to note that Google typically displays shorter titles, with the vast majority of displayed titles being under 60 characters, and 68 characters appearing to be the longest length to be displayed.
In terms of title tags, though, it’s possible to use far more than just 60 characters. The maximum length appears to be around 139, meaning that going over the accepted 60 character limit is perfectly fine, even if the title is rewritten or cut off, since it’s still possible to achieve a first page ranking.
Interestingly, it also appears that Google may even increase the length of title tags, meaning that short titles may be rewritten, not only ones that are too long. This can commonly be seen in page titles for LinkedIn profiles.
Overall then, this information can be put together to determine the best course of action when it comes to determining the optimal title tag lengths for 2023. Evidence shows that there is no need to adhere to a character limit of just 55-60 characters when creating title tags. In fact, you can make your title tag as long as necessary (within reason).
As your title tag is among one of just a few assets that can have a major impact on your rankings that you have control over, it’s worth maximising its full potential. If you have concerns about your title being rewritten or cut off, it’s time to put those fears to rest. These concerns should be secondary to any other elements since ranking well will always get highest priority.
With all of this in mind, the takeaway from this is that you should optimise your titles for ranking first, even if that means going over the “accepted” character limit. You can then check how the title looks in SERPS and adjust as necessary. Bear in mind that if your site doesn’t rank, it won’t matter at all about the length of your title!