The Write Stuff – Blog

Mar 21 2014 How Google’s new search display affects your title tags
Googles new SERP formatting

By now you’ve probably noticed a subtle change to your Google search results. No longer are your title tags underlined. Instead, the text size has been increased to help it stand out from the snippet text.

So, no big deal right?

Unless of course, your copywriter has written custom title tags adhering to the previous character limits, which were generally capped at 70 characters including spaces and punctuation.

What the new display format means for you

The larger font size means that the meta title tag is now much shorter – so you have far less room to convey your message.

Prior to the new look, you were usually safe with 70 characters, provided you used sentence case. If you used all caps, it reduced your message to around 55 characters.

Now you might be safe with a title tag 60-65 characters in length, but this largely depends on the width of certain characters and the use of CAPS. Your message may now cut off at 48 characters (or less!) 

Here’s a demonstration of the same title tag diplayed in the old format and the new, as well as the difference between sentence case or all caps.

Meta title tags in new Google layout

How you can check your title tags

In my post What is a meta tag? (And what you need to know about them), I recommended the SEOmofo SERP Snippet Optimization Tool to check the length of your title tags. At this stage, the tool has not yet been updated to take the new layout into account.

But I have found an alternative!

The Moz Blog has developed a quick preview tool to help you check what your title tags will look like with Google’s new formatting – although they do advise this is a guide only.

Simply enter your text and preview the results.

Definitely one to bookmark for now.

The final word

While Google still pay attention to the keywords which may have been cut off in longer titles, your title tag plays an important role in persuading prospective customers to visit your site. If your full tag is no longer displaying, your message may be losing its impact.

The best course of action is to ensure your title tags are short and sharp, and contain your main keyword or phrase. Consider the most important information you need to convey and don’t be tempted to add more than you need to.

Got questions? Feel free to get in touch, or come and join the conversation on Facebook.

 

Posted in SEO, Tools, Websites by 7 comments

7 Responses to “How Google’s new search display affects your title tags”

  • […] How Google’s new search display affects your title tags for more […]

  • Reply SeoKungFu April 26, 2014at 12:03 am

    It limits the display not based on chars but on pixels, and it was like 500px wide, have to look for the test articles and blogposts that did the experiment…

    • Reply Anna Butler April 29, 2014at 9:45 am

      Yes, characters are definitely no longer a reliable indicator, although having written hundreds (maybe thousands!) of tags for clients in the past, I could always rely on fitting 70 characters into a title tag.

      With the new design, character count is definitely unreliable. Unfortunately, measuring pixels isn’t quite so easy, making the MozBlog tool all the more helpful – even as a guide.

  • Reply google.com May 03, 2014at 11:34 pm

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my website so i came to
    “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use
    some of your ideas!!

  • Reply Kate McMahon May 25, 2014at 10:58 am

    I use Yoast’s SEO tool for wordpress, which has always been really great at helping me write meta tags. Do you know if this tool has updated to accommodate these changes? Definitely one to look into!

    • Reply Anna Butler June 25, 2014at 11:16 am

      Hi Kate… great question!

      I’ve been a bit remiss with my blogging lately, so I’m not sure if Yoast have updated their plugin to accommodate these new changes – but I’ll definitely be checking on this.

      (And yes, it’s a fantastic tool for easy SEO management!)

  • Reply Anna Butler June 25, 2014at 1:47 pm

    Looks like Yoast has adapted to the new meta title width and if you add too much text it comes up with a warning about the title in Google being a fixed width.

    Great to see!

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