Recently, Google has changed they way title tags are being displayed in the SERPs, causing most tags to be truncated. Prior to this change, the rule of thumb for title tags was 65-70 characters which included any spaces and special characters. The new update has title tags showing up at a pixel width rather than length.
Google has recently shortened the average title tag length to now be just over 50 characters. To be on the safe side, try to keep your title tags as condensed as possible, while maintaining your core message.
What Does This Mean For Me?
Should I go through my website and change all of my title tags? No. Your website may be ranking well in its current format so don’t go getting nervous just yet. If however, you titles are obscenely long and not preforming as well as expected, then I would advise switching some things up a bit. Web Shop Optimizer has created a great tool to measure the width of your title tags and will compare it to other versions you have entered as pictured below:
Moz also offer a great tool (accessible from the first link in this post) that will provide a mock preview of the SERP result when you enter a title tag and target keyword.
How Can I Test This on a Large Scale?
The tools listed above are great but limit us from one to a few example of title tags. If you have a website that have more than a dozen or so URL’s, those options may not be the best use of time.
A quicker way to test your title tags
The other day I found myself working on a website w/ a few thousand URLs and couldn’t fathom checking the page title width for each page, one at a time. So what I did was find ONE title tag that was 512 pixels and pasted it into Excel. The Column width was 60.75.
Here is a screenshot of what it looks like:
The easiest way to test the current width of all page titles on our site is to run the website through screaming frog. This will provide us with a list of page titles, H1 tags, Meta Description and so on that we can then export. Once in Excel, right-click on the column that contains the title tags and choose Column Width.
We can also set up conditional formatting in Excel to show title tags over a certain length. In Excel, create a new column to the right of your title tags and call it Length or Title Tag Length. The formula we’ll use here is =len(D2) or wherever your tags start.
Next, set up conditional formatting to Highlight Cells Rules that are Greater Than 70. This will highlight any title tag lengths that are larger than they should be and will make it easier for you to spot when assessing your title tags. If you do not have a Screaming Frog licence, this will be a much quicker way of auditing your metadata.
The newly formatted column allows us to see if our title tags are too long and which ones can be adjusted accordingly.
My Two Cents
This is a great way to present a technical audit to our clients when they ask about best practices regarding title tags. I’d love to hear any success stories from anyone who has tried this method and presented it to their clients.