You may have noticed Google’s search results design changes earlier this month. Underlined text has now gone, the search results heading title tag font size is now bigger (18pt compared to 16pt) and Google AdWords adverts look different amongst a number of other changes.
What impact does all this have on how your title tags appear in the search results?
Well, with a bigger font size the title tag length you can use on your website pages is now reduced. Each page on your site should have a carefully crafted title tag written to include the keywords the page is targeting and encourage visitors to click through to you site when your site appears in the search engine results. Your page title tags, combined with your meta descriptions form the basis of the search results. Following Google’s redesign your title tags may now cut off and not appear as you intended them to.
So what’s the optimum length of a title tag now?
According to a well-researched post on Title Tag Guidelines written by Moz, it seems that this isn’t a straight forward question to answer. The space each character takes up has always had some influence on the number of characters you can use, but following the text size increase this is now even more pronounced.
Each character takes up a different amount of space. For example if you use CAPITALS or W, Ms or other wide characters, the number of characters you can include in your title tags may reduce. If you title tag is too long it will now chop off in the middle of a word.
The information below shows how likely your title tag will remain unaltered at different character lengths:
80% – 57 characters (81.6%)
90% – 56 characters (91.6%)
95% – 55 characters (95.8%)
99% – 53 characters (98.7%)
99.9% – 49 characters (99.9%)
If you aim for 55 characters in your title tags you are likely to be ok 95.8% of the time. You should review your title tags and Moz have produced a useful title tag length checker tool to help you do this. Meta description length has not been affected by the changes and you should aim for roughly 160 characters.