Page Title Tag Best Practice for Google


<title>What Is The Best Title Tag For Google?</title>

SEO Page Title Tag Best Practices for Google in 2015

Ranking in Google in 2015 is about SO MUCH more than just optimising one element of a page, but the Page Title Tag (or more accurately the HTML Title Element) is still – arguably – the most important on page seo element to address on any web page. Keywords in page titles can HELP your pages rank higher in Google results pages (SERPS) and the page title is also often used by Google as the title of a search snippet link in search engine results pages.

The text link Google DISPLAYS as your page snippet title can be different for person to person.

A search snippet title is very much QUERY DEPENDENT in 2015. If you want to virtually guarantee a page title will display in full in google.co.uk on a desktop machine – stick to about 55 characters in length – although if you do that – you are missing out on some longer tail ranking benefit. I go into all this in detail below.

The same page might have at least a few variations displayed in Google, all dependent on words typed by the user, and this process starts as soon as a page is published:

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 00.36.26

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 00.36.03

 

….and over time links and other data soon give Google even more options to change that search snippet title. I go into these options below, but you can in most instances prevent Google from changing your title tag if you are succinct and a little more careful when creating it so Google is not compelled to modify it:

Screenshot 2015-03-20 14.49.02

Note that desktop and mobile versions of Google are different too.

It was a surprise the first time I saw that Google displays longer title tags in MOBILE view than than it does in DESKTOP view (in Google.co.uk, at least):

google-mobile-serps-iphone-screenshot

What Is The Perfect Page Title Tag?

There is no one-size -fits -all formula to creating the perfect title tag as the perfect title tag is perfectly relevant to the words that are on a specific page. An effective page title is created with how people search for things on the page in mind.

It’s difficult for me to describe an abstract but basically it does all come down to keywords and keyword phrases taken from text on the page (naturally) and expected popular/valuable search phrases (based on data available):

Screenshot 2015-03-18 03.38.42

Different kinds of pages require different kinds of title tags. For certain pages, the perfect page title might change over time to guarantee diversity in anchor text to the page, as the title ends up often used as anchor text in backlinks from other sites. For some pages – a more permanent page title might suffice.

The perfect page title for the page is usually going to be very page dependant and eventually user query dependent.

I will point out I optimise for raw search engine traffic performance before I optimise for display performance.

There’s a big difference.

I will use a long title if it suits the page content. Vice versa, I will use a short title if that instead suits the page.

I rarely try and be sensational with my titles. My titles are functional. And longer than some best practices. I very rarely trim my titles to meet a recommendation laid down by any third party.

I’ll often post a functional title and then revisit it after I publish it once I observe how it is performing against competing pages, or have made an error or have new inspiration to modify it.

I expect my page titles to change over time for I too am always testing and optimising.

For me, a perfect title tag in Google is going to be dependant on a number of factors;

  1. A page title that is highly relevant to the page it refers to will maximise it’s usability, search engine ranking performance and click through satisfaction rate. It will probably be displayed in a web browsers window title bar, and in clickable search snippet links used by Google, Bing & other search engines. The title element is the “crown” of a web page with important keyword phrase featuring AT LEAST ONCE within it.
  2. Most modern search engines have traditionally placed a lot of importance in the words contained within this html element. A good page title is made up of keyword phrases of value and/or high search volumes.
  3. The last time I looked Google displayed as many characters as it can fit into  “a block element that’s 512px wide and doesn’t exceed 1 line of text”. So – THERE BECAME NO AMOUNT OF CHARACTERS any seo could lay down as exact best practice to GUARANTEE a title will display, in full in Google, at least, as the search snippet title. Ultimately – only the characters and words you use will determine if your entire page title will be seen in a Google search snippet. Recently Google displayed 70 characters in a title – but that changed in 2011/2012.
  4. If you want to *ENSURE* your FULL title tag shows in the desktop UK version of Google SERPS, stick to a shorter title of about 55 characters but that does not mean your title tag MUST end at 55 characters and remember your mobile visitors see a longer title (in the UK, in March 2015 at least). What you see displayed in SERPS depends on the characters you use. In 2015 – I just expect what Google displays to change – so I don’t obsess about what Google is doing in terms of display. See the tests later on in this article.
  5. Google is all about ‘user experience’ and ‘visitor satisfaction’ in 2015 so it’s worth remembering that usability studies have shown that a good page title length is about seven or eight words long and fewer than 64 total characters. Longer titles are less scannable in bookmark lists, and might not display correctly in many browsers (and of course probably will be truncated in serps).
  6. Google will INDEX perhaps 1000s of characters in a title… but I don’t think no-one knows exactly how many characters or words Google will actually count AS a TITLE when determining relevance for ranking purposes. It is a very hard thing to try to isolate accurately with all the testing and obfuscation Google uses to hide it’s ‘secret sauce’. I have had ranking success with longer titles – much longer titles. Google certainly reads ALL the words in your page title (unless you are spamming it silly, of course).
  7. You can probably include up to 12 words that will be counted as part of a page title, and consider using your important keywords in the first 8 words. The rest of your page title will be counted as normal text on the page.
  8. NOTE, in 2015, the html title element you choose for your page, may not be what Google chooses to include in your SERP snippet. The search snippet title and description is very much QUERY dependant these days. Google often chooses what it thinks is the most relevant title for your search snippet, and it can use information from your page, or in links to that page, to create a very different SERP snippet title.
  9. When optimising a title, you are looking to rank for as many terms as possible, without keyword stuffing your title. Often, the best bet is to optimise for a particular phrase (or phrases) – and take a more long-tail approach. Note that too many page titles and not enough actual page text per page could lead to Google Panda or other ‘user experience‘ performance issues. A highly relevant unique page title is no longer enough to float a page with thin content. Google cares WAY too much about the page text content these days to let a good title hold up a thin page on most sites.
  10. Some page titles do better with a call to action – a call to action which reflects exactly a searcher’s intent (e.g. to learn something, or buy something, or hire something. Remember this is your hook in search engines, if Google chooses to use your page title in its search snippet, and there is a lot of competing pages out there in 2015.
  11. The perfect title tag on a page is unique to other pages on the site. In light of Google Panda, an algorithm that looks for a ‘quality’ in sites, you REALLY need to make your page titles UNIQUE, and minimise any duplication, especially on larger sites.
  12. I like to make sure my keywords feature as early as possible in a title tag but the important thing is to have important keywords and key phrases in your page title tag SOMEWHERE.
  13. For me, when SEO is more important than branding, the company name goes at the end of the tag, and I use a variety of dividers to separate as no one way performs best. If you have a recognisable brand – then there is an argument for putting this at the front of titles – although Google often will change your title dynamically – sometimes putting your brand at the front of your snippet link title itself.
  14. Note that Google is pretty good these days at removing any special characters you have in your page title – and I would be wary of trying to make your title or Meta Description STAND OUT using special characters. That is not what Google wants, evidently, and they do give you a further chance to make your search snippet stand out with RICH SNIPPETS and SCHEMA markup.
  15. I like to think I write titles for search engines AND humans.
  16. Know that Google tweaks everything regularly – why not what the perfect title keys off? So MIX it up…
  17. Don’t obsess. Natural is probably better, and will only get better as engines evolve. I optimise for key-phrases, rather than just keywords.
  18. I prefer mixed case page titles as I find them more scannable than titles with ALL CAPS or all lowercase.
  19. Generally speaking, the more domain trust/authority your SITE has in Google, the easier it is for a new page to rank for something. So bear that in mind. There is only so much you can do with your page titles – your websites rankings in Google are a LOT more to do with OFFSITE factors than ONSITE ones – negative and positive.
  20. Click through rate is something that is likely measured by Google when ranking pages (Bing say they use it too, and they now power Yahoo), so it is really worth considering whether you are best optimising your page titles for click-through rate or optimising for more search engine rankings.
  21. I would imagine keyword stuffing your page titles could be one area Google look at (although I see little evidence of it).
  22. Remember….think ‘keyword phrase‘ rather than ‘keyword‘, ‘keyword‘ ,’keyword‘… think Long Tail.
  23. Google will select the best title it wants for your search snippet – and it will take that information from multiple sources, NOT just your page title element. A small title is often appended with more information about the domain. Sometimes, if Google is confident in the BRAND name, it will replace it with that (often adding it to the beginning of your title with a colon, or sometimes appending the end of your snippet title with the actual domain address the page belongs to).

Don’t Spam Title Tags

When you write a page title, you have a chance right at the beginning of the page to tell Google (and other search engines) if this is a spam site or a quality site – such as – have you repeated the keyword 4 times or only once?

I think title tags, like everything else, should probably be as simple as possible, with the keyword once and perhaps a related term if possible.

I always aim to keep my html page title elements relatively simple, and looking as human-generated and unique, as possible, although it is easy to end up stuffing keywords in there.

Spammy title tags can also look real ugly. Your audience might not like ugly title tags, whereas another audience might not care.

Dynamic Titles In Google SERP Snippet

Google works VERY differently since the days I started publishing results on such seo tests. I kept some of the information below on this page to show how SEO learned what Google seemed to like, and how you tested such a thing, in case anyone is interested in the future.

With DYNAMIC page titles – Google is free to ignore the page title you use – and will choose the best title for your search snippet, based on what it thinks, is the most relevant text, to a search query.

It is now VERY COMMON for Google to create it’s own search snippet title, all but effectively ignoring the title you specified for the page.

I witnessed this tested for months if not for over a year (usually to help repair malformed titles or pages with the same title ‘tag’ as some call it, for instance), but it became very widespread, even for well formed pages too.

Example (from 2012):

Title 1

and

Picture 2

Dynamic snippet titles seem to key off various signals – from anchor text pointing to the page in question, or from the page title itself, or from Headers (h1-h6) – all based on what the searcher actually typed in.

I see a lot of folk asking in forums why their snippet title is different from their page title, and it’s probably that you just now can’t ever guarantee what title Google will pick to match to a phrase (unless you control the linking of course – more of that below).

SEO are used to very dynamic DESCRIPTIONS in the snippet. Google is MUCH more confident at stretching that dynamism to the snippet title these days, and not just using this to ‘repair’ malformed or very unhelpful titles.

Perhaps EVEN more of a reason to mix up the anchor text pointing to a page, and creating unique page titles that are different from H1 headers etc….Note – There are other reasons your page title is wrong in Google (see below).

How Google, Yahoo & Bing Handle Title Snippet If Title Is ‘Malformed’

Google in 2015

I demonstrated a long time ago Google will use the next available Header, be it a H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 or H6.

Today, in 2015, Google is happy to label a page like this ‘untitled’ rather than put that much work into making sense of this specific page:

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 01.19.33

 

Google in 2012:

This SERP screenshot from 2012 is an example of Google using a H6 to form the snippet title.

Screen Shot 2012-04-02 at 01.56.59

I intend to change this back to a H2 to see if it picks it up again….

It’s worth pointing out that Google will even handle this particular word VERY DIFFERENTLY on a different site with more domain authority and/or better kind of page than my test page.

Screenshot 2015-03-18 01.41.40

 

… so the point is to expect Google to modify your page titles in your SERP snippet – at some point.

Bing in 2015:

Yahoo and Bing now much work the same (as Bing actually powers Yahoo search now) as they have done for years. Bing and Yahoo will display as many characters as possible in the title tag. I would expect these to change to a more similar approach to Google’s in the coming year(s).

This is a screenshot of Bing in 2015…

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 01.48.05

 

Bing in 2012:

Screen Shot 2012-04-02 at 02.04.15

Yahoo in 2015

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 01.48.51

Yahoo in 2012

Screen Shot 2012-04-02 at 02.02.37

NOTE – It’s worth pointing out that you CAN search Bing and Yahoo for the longest word coined in the english language – and that is the word in the ‘malformed’ Page Title Element I am using to test this. It’s far to big to display – and far too big to even search for at Google.

Does Google penalise keyword stuffing of Title Tags?

Some time ago I showed if you had a long spammy page title Google would ‘forgive you’.

At one time the recent past Google seemed to count the first 8-12 words (while displaying 70 characters in a search snippet) and then just seem to count the rest of the words as part of page text but it would not obviously penalise you for a massive title.

I’ve only ever seen one obvious case of Google ‘maybe’ responding negatively to a very spammy title.

A company contacted me to ask:

I was looking to see why my site has not been getting any hits

I Looked at the home page title:

Company Name – xxxxxxx, telephone, health and safety, xxxxxxx, scanner, PC, fax, monitor, xxxxxx, keyboard, office equipment, cleaning, cleaning service‚ cleaning company, computer cleaning, xxxxxxxx cleaning, PC cleaning, dust control, telephone cleaning, computer xxxxxx cleaning, anti static, xxxxxx room, printer cleaning, xxxxxxx display unit, raised access xxxxxx, preventative maintenance, zinc dust, anti static mat‚  xxxxxxx room, anti static flooring, xxxxxxx room, computer cleaning equipment, keyboard cleaning, companyname uk

Google showed no title in the page title link in the SERPS:

No Title In Google

There was H1s on the page (multiples too) – but perhaps if created correctly, Google would have used a H1 as the title tag. Unfortunately, the site in this example was using images as H1 Tags too.

So, this could have been more about sloppy code, than actual penalty.

On the whole, I’ve not made many observations of Google really penalising for keyword stuffing decent page title elements.

How Many Words In A Page Title Tag?

Way back in 2007 I  tested how many keywords will Google read in the title tag / element using a simple test. And here’s some of the observations, which were quite surprising.

First – here’s the test title tag I tried to get Google to swallow. And it did. All of it. Even though it was a bit spammy;

HoboA HoboB HoboC HoboD HoboE HoboF HoboG HoboH HoboI HoboJ HoboK HoboL HoboM HoboN HoboO HoboP HoboQ HoboR HoboS HoboT HoboU HoboV HoboW HoboX HoboY Hob10 Hob20 Hob30 Hob40 Hob50 Hob60 Hob70 Hob80 Hob90 Hob11 Hob12 Hob13 Hob14 Hob15 Hob16 Hob17 Hob18 Hob19 Hob1a Hob1b Hob1c Hob1d Hob1e Hob1f Hob1g Hob1h

Using a keyword search – hoboA Hob1h – we were surprised to see Google returned our page. We also tested it using – Hob1g Hob1h – the keywords right at the end of the title – and again our page was returned.

So that’s 51 words, and 255 characters without spaces305 characters with spaces, at least! It seems clear Google will read a title length of just about any amount – hence why some seo do use very long titles.

**************

Update: Qwerty pointed out an interesting fact about the intitle: site operator in Google.

Google results with the intitle: command

…..results as expected. But next in the sequence returns the following, unexpected result…..

Google results with the intitle: command

So what does this tell us? Google seemed to stop at the 12th word on this page at least when returning results using the intitle: site operator. Another interesting observation. Thanks Qwerty.

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I’m obviously not sure what benefit a title tag with this many keywords in it has for your page, with regard to keyword density / dilution, and “clickability” in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

50 plus words in a title is certainly not best practice.

How Many Characters will Google DISPLAY As A Page Title SERP Snippet?

Desktop Examples from Google.co.uk March 2015:

Screen Shot 2015 03 26 at 00.24.40 Screen Shot 2015 03 26 at 00.16.37 Screen Shot 2015 03 26 at 00.14.00

At one time Google showed a maximum of 70 characters in the title – but, as the examples above illustrate: in 2015 it is not possible to lay down an exact number of characters for page snippets in Google:

Google displays as many characters as it can fit into  ”a block element that’s 512px  wide and doesn’t exceed 1 line of text”. So – THERE IS NO AMOUNT OF CHARACTERS any seo can lay down as exact best practice to GUARANTEE your title will display, in full in Google, at least.Ultimately – only the characters and words you use will determine if your entire page title will be seen in a Google search snippet.

What is was pre-2012:

This is a common question and surprising how many people don’t know it. Google will display up to 70 characters maximum in a Page Title for Google. How many characters or words Google actually counts in terms of attributing it to the page title in the TITLE element is another story. Best practice – keep your page titles to under 70 characters and keep your important keywords in the first 55 characters or 8 words if you think like me there must be a limit on the number of characters in anchor text link. If your page title is over 70 characters, Google will truncate your page title when it displays it in the SERPS leaving you with a page title that doesn’t make any … ;) PS – here’s some test pages that illustrate Google displays 70 characters in the page title – and if it encounters 71 characters, it will consider the page title malformed and Google will use the next available H tag as the page title (although sometimes it will use incoming anchor text too).

Home Page Title Is Wrong/Different In Google Search Results

In short, Google will often make up it’s own snippet title for the page, if it thinks it can create a cleaner one, based on what it knows about the page from internal links, content, html markup and links from other sites to this page. I thought I would list some of the more obvious reasons your home page title seems wrong in Google search results:

  • If you’re totally new to this, Google will look in your page <title></title> tags in the HEAD for your page title information, to display as the link to your page in search results (SERPS)
  • If you’ve made changes recently to optimise your page title for search engines, it might very well be just that Google doesn’t know yet, because it’s not visited your page since you made the changeSo give it time. Check the Google CACHE link under your listing in search engines to see which page Google is “supposedly” using for your page (it’s usually accurate).
  • If this is clearly not the case, it might be because it is using Open Directory Project (ODP) data (the DMOZ directory) to replace your title with your directory listing data – that is, it’s using the link on that directory to replace your title because it thinks its more relevant to a specific query. If this is a possibility, add <meta name=”robots” content=”noodp” /> and <meta name=”robots” content=”noydir” /> – for the same issue in Yahoo – to your home page and once Google visits the page again, the problem should be resolved See – NOODP & also NOYDIR.
  • If you are not in DMOZ or the Yahoo directory, it may well be your title element ‘My Title’ is malformed in someway – I’ve shown before how search engines can choose to use a Header ‘tag’ as a Page title, or ignore the page title completely if you’re a spammer in the making – so ensure your Page Title is properly marked up and starts with and ends with and is in the HEAD of your document – and there is only one.
  • Another reason is you may be confusing Google in some way from getting to the correct page title, and/or from displaying it in results, using directives in your meta tags or Robots.txt. When Google knows about the page because other pages it CAN read link to your page with descriptive keywords, it might very well use these links on third party pages to determine what that page title should be if it decides to include the URI in it’s listings, and you CERTAINLY don’t want that. For questions about Robots.txt I go to Sebastian.
  • Google uses many signals to help create a search snippet title these days, and will use elements or attributes of your page, or the information in links to your page, to create a snippet title, based on what a searcher typed in.

An intelligent, well formed page title, that is highly relevant to the page, and not duplicated on other pages of your site, is just about the most important single thing you can do to ‘seo’ a page on your site – after you’ve got some text to put a title on, of course.

Your Page Title is still INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT

Having valuable keyword phrases in your page title is a must for Google to work out the topic of your page, but it’s also a great opportunity for a call to action.

If running an e-commerce shop, for instance, with product pages can compete on price, this is one of the easiest tweaks you can make to your site to increase click through rates from search engines. I find that having a price (or a SAVING/DISCOUNT/SALE) in your page titles (if it’s a good price compared to the competition) attracts clicks even from way down the rankings – WAY down – if you don’t have enough domain reputation to rank higher.

I’m often surprised when I look at stats and see the product was featured on page 3 in Google and still got a click. The only thing that makes it stand out from the competition? Price in the page title. Hey, they’ve checked the competition already and can see at a glance you’re cheaper.

There’s lots of opportunity to find if you experiment with more laser focused page title for search engines, or more engaging title for humans, however if you take one thing away from this article today – remember this:

A highly relevant unique page title is no longer enough to rely on if the page itself is ‘thin content’.

Google wants to rank long form, keyword rich text pages (with nice titles) these days – rather than the opposite of that, which is what it used to want to rank.

Single, unique, long form quality content pieces with a well thought out page title perform REALLY well in Google in 2015.

That’s better for users, better for Google’s bottom line and harder for spammers….perfect, for Google.

Check out our Character Counter Tool if you want to count some characters.

Read Next:

My guide to SEO for beginners or my guide to link building for beginners. More experienced SEOs will find my recent Google Panda tips post useful.

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36 Responses

  1. Meble Biurowe says:

    The test is fine but you have ask yourself a question if google read for example 200 characters and in serps it shows only 65 how powerfull are the keywords in title if it is so long. Its obvious that main keywords should be at the beginning and the more keywords you have in the title the less its affects on you ranking. I always give not more then 3 phrases in title and more often i give 2 phrases. The shorter is title the better I got results.

  2. Nick from Auto Link says:

    Definitely a great test. I also agree that no one can proof is putting too much keywords will do good for your site. But I think if Google indexes keywords THAT deep, then this info will not be lying somewhere in the locker.

  3. Daniel Vukadinovic says:

    So how do you actually benefit from this? I would never put 300 chars in my title.

  4. Shaun Anderson says:

    I guess it’s up to everyone to see how and if they can benefit from this. The point of the test is simply to how many words (or more accurate, characters) Google will read in a title tag. A lot of people out there think it’s a set number around 10-15. This is a misconception it would appear.

  5. Pedro Sttau says:

    Daniel, pretty simple really. The content within the title tag plays an extremely important in the SERPS. Although it is just one more factor, it’s undeniable one of the most important ones.

  6. Daniel Vukadinovic says:

    I understand that but if you have a title FREE WORDPRESS TEMPLATES AND PLUGINS AND WHATNOT WE ARE THE BEST BLABLA 300 CHARS and a user searches for FREE WORDPRESS TEMPLATES I don’t think your site is going to show up in top 10, because there are hundreds of websites with free wordpress templates, unless a user inputs exact phrase or am I wrong?

  7. WizardMan says:

    Just with regards to MSN and Yahoo. They take alot more into account when it comes to Keywords in Titles. With MSN and Yahoo being META search engines they’re very quick to blacklist sites with keywords in the title, description and keywords section of your page. You’ll most likely find that you’ll get indexed you’ll shoot to the top of their page rankings and then drop off pretty quickly. Recommended and proven optimal keywords in your title for these search engines is between 9 and 12. Well that’s according to Bruce Clay :) and his best practices guide.

  8. Nick from Auto Link says:

    Just a tiny comment to those who say they are never using 300 characters in the title. The beauty of this test is test itself and all of us understanding more about how Google sees it. I agree that putting 300 chars in the title in real life looks strange; I would not do that as well. But this is definitely a great test and the desire to learn more is worth admiration. If it was not about desires like that we would still live in caves :)

  9. NickH says:

    I did a similar test on my blog, using old blog posts, to find out if it ranked phrases that were beyond the 66 characters or whatever the limit is, but I also recorded the starting positions of keywords that were already in the title. In every case the new keywords were ranked, but also in every caes the position of the exisitng keyword went down. So basically you can cram your title full of keywords but you’re just diluting the value of the ones that might be important.

  10. Praveen SEO Blog says:

    Above tips are very Useful for increasing the CTR on Google organic results. But it is very important to keep changing and trying new title tags for more Visitors and Clicks, it can improve in 2%-3% of traffic.

  11. Matt Ridout says:

    I can see your traditional approach to the title and to be honest I think it would perform well although I would choose: SEO Company | Scotland | The Hobo I think “The Hobo SEO Company Scotland” is more user friendly and would probably perform better for brand terms. Just my 2 cents, like the idea of a tip a day btw mate!

  12. Shaun says:

    Cheers Matt and thanks. It’s a bit of fun. :) Yes – There’s slight nuances to a title tag, and importantly as Praveen very intelligently pointed out too, it’s important to test what’s better for your site, what gets more visitors – what matches your audience’s expectations and intent when searching.

  13. Jared says:

    Thank you, your tips really sound great, Seems that i sould take action under your knowledge

  14. erichansa says:

    very useful, thank you

  15. JDurban says:

    Just when I spent the whole weekend keyword stuffing I read this! Thank God for “Find and replace” ! I will read your blog daily now

  16. Zulu Digital - Inter says:

    It’s best to include keywords in your title tags and remove unnecessary linking words such as ‘and’, replacing them with the ever popular ‘|’ (pipe-line symbol) – as can be seen above in a few examples. Be careful not to duplicate the title tag into the h1 tag – this would be rather spammy of you! ;p Instead, I like to get them reasonably close to each other, changing just a few words. This means that the relevance of page title to content starts off on a good foot!

  17. Nicole says:

    Good article about title selection, but I think you forget to cover one thing, how to use special characters effectively in Title tag.

    • Shaun says:

      Ah Yes – The old 5 Star trick :) I used to use such tricks to get a user’s eye to look at the snippet. Don’t use it much though, and Google has most of those characters nuked these days (in the Page Title Element)

  18. Brett Pringle says:

    Would be interesting to see any other examples of excessive number of words/characters in the TITLE. Seen in the past that even though it’s truncated, it will still appear for related searches, perhaps there’s a middle ground before hitting the insane area. Although, personally, i’m glad, shouldn’t be spamming the TITLE anyway, put some thought into it, VS just trying to get as much in as possible :)

  19. kay says:

    Interesting observation. I wouldn’t be suprised if H1s (or other on-page element) overtakes the strength of the title if it hasn’t already. It would make sense considering the (ab)use of the title. Did the ranking sites using HOME in the title have an optimised H1?

  20. Fábio Ricotta says:

    Very interesting this behavior. Bing is doing something similar you told us at last paragraph. They are choosing the best title for many pages of some websites. Interesting info!

  21. mark Waterfield says:

    Thanks for the info………………..My learning has been that 70 characters is the max that will go up on the google page. If you exceed 70 characters then your sentence is reduced to less than 70 characters and the words are replaced with …………………. so you get 65 ish characters and spaces. My only other learning to save the pain of counting up characters and spaces is that in “Word” under Tools is word count which has a characters and space facility. It took me an age to find.

  22. Jim Gaudet says:

    I wonder, is branding still ok? I have, let’s say. Page Name | Company Name (Consulting in Cape Cod | JG Software and Consulting) The Page Name is most relevant to the page, and will have keywords close to it in the heading. (I think I should use main Keyword (cape code consulting) in the title and first synonym/related in the H1(Cape Code Consulting Services) ) I want to brand my name, so I tag it at the end, like in WordPress. Trying to make sure I am always less than 70 chars… What do you think?

  23. Justin Bianchi says:

    Thanks Shaun, always fun to read your posts. I, like many above me, am glad to see Google taking affirmative actions against spammers. However, I am more curious about “Home” titles being restructured based on page content. I see *so many* sites that are just “Home”, “About”, “Contact” etc. Interesting if they start organically ranking. Would you have any searches you can share that shows that example? Thanks, keep it up! (I have no idea how you get any work done). ;)

  24. Moss Green Children' says:

    Well done another piece of original blogging from Hobo that is very useful. I have never read this piece of advice before. Thank you. To change the subject and for sharing with all those who are learning about seo, how to do it etc is the mistake that i have made and now need to correct. When you comment on a blog – Do not use your own name but use the name of your website. To all in the know this is obvious and to those who do not do not do it as you will get the wrong anchor text linking to your site. Shaun, I would like to know what is the best way to write to someone asking if they would mind altering anchor text. How would you like to get this email and with what info…..I also need to write to you. Sorry about that.

  25. Alok says:

    Nothing to comment about the article here as it is really seems to be a good piece of advice but I am wondering about the first comment. I can understand putting up a proper anchor text to get a proper backlink from SEO pov but it doesn’t looks good to go with that strategy. When I am making a honest comment, I want to associate my name with it and want people to visit my site. Moreover not many blog owners feel like allowing people to put so called optimized anchor text.

  26. Matt Ridout says:

    It’s often a sure fire tip, works especially well in PPC. Am not 100% convinced I’d want to give up some keyword landscape to a price – perhaps on authority sites though.

  27. Mark says:

    Nice tip Shaun – should be really easy to implement in most decent e-commerce systems too! The only reservation I would have is that if you change your product prices, the search engines are going to be showing the old price in their results until they get round to re-indexing those pages (which could be months, although an XML sitemap with correct change frequencies could help with that), and users are likely to be miffed when they click through to the product page to find the price higher (unless you adjust prices down, in which case they’ll be happily surprised. Hmm – that could be a cunning trick!) Still, for sites with relatively static product prices, nice tip! I can think of at least one of our sites we’ll be doing this on!

  28. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    @Matt howdy – it’s only 10% of your available characters – and I always have them at the end of the title (where I think they might be weighted a little less – some days anyway :p ) @Alok you make a good point. @Moss Green I don’t particularily rely on anchor text comments from blogs these days. It all depends on the site in question and wether or not the blog is letting folks run riot with optimised anchor text.

  29. Terry Van Horne says:

    Excellent tip and is just one of many ecommerce opportunities that are available when the product has a competitive price. Ecommerce players need to realize that in this day and age users are often using SE’s for price discovery.

  30. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    @Mark You make a good point about prices not being synchronised. Of course, this is true, but it doesn’t changethe fact more people click on lower rankings with prices featured. I’m not sure about customer satisfaction – just about the mechancs. Something to look at though :)

  31. Richard Falconer says:

    Google and Bing are all also known to change titles using the anchor text on external links purely because that text is more relevant to the search query. Rich Skrenta pointed out well on his blog. A Google search for Rich Skrenta gives the title “Skrenta, Rich” but a search for skrentablog gives the correct title “Skrentablog”. I’ve been noticing this happening more frequently over the last 6 months or so.

  32. Kieron Hughes says:

    Although I’ve done limited testing in this area, Google seems to change page titles for brand searches quite often too. Whether this is because of the anchor text of inbound links or something else, I’m not quite positive. For example, if you do a search for “pushon”, Google changes the page title. But if you search for “pushon online marketing” the title within the tags are shown.

  33. Barry Hynd says:

    I actually seem to have the opposite issue in that the page title is ok but I have no idea where Google is taking the meta description from despite me using all-in-one seo and actually providing the meta. I have a situation where my homepage actually ranks for a three word term ahead of a page that has actually got all these words in it’s title, url, h1 tag. Is it possible for you to actually over-optimise?

  34. Reinier says:

    Interesting find, Shaun! Are you certain this is a permanent change and not one of the many experiments run by Big G.?

  35. TradeShow Ninja says:

    hi Shaun, I first noticed this a week ago or so (on one of my perfectly OK page titles that google decided to “fix”). It doesn’t seem that common, but I don’t like it. I put a lot of thought into my titles, and I don’t want some computer program changing them. Titles can make or break whether searchers decide to click on your page. That said, I guess I don’t have much choice. I too wonder if this is going to expand or not. Steve



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