SEO News You Can Use: Google Says Title Tag Length Has No Limit

Lesley Marchant
SEO News You Can Use

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Title tags are one of the most vital aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) – the first point of contact between your website and a user. It makes sense, then, that you’d want this element to be as effective as possible. Google how to optimize title tags, and you’re sure to find hundreds of thousands of answers that range from keeping keywords to a minimum to making them unique. Something you’re sure to see a whole bunch of times is a reminder to keep them short. 

SEO heavy-hitters have all shared their advice over the years. “Google favors title tags that are 50-60 characters,” they say. “Keep your titles under 60 characters, and 90 percent of them will display correctly,” some argue. Others suggest, somewhat vaguely, limiting the title tag length is “effective.” As for Google’s opinion, the search engine has never even remotely hinted at any hard and fast rules for title tag optimization, leaving experts to try and crack the code themselves. 

Now, on the latest episode of Google’s Search Off The Record podcast, Google’s Gary Illyes has spoken, saying that the industry standard of title length has been externally created and not at all a reflection of Google’s standards. In fact, as far as Google’s concerned, there is no limit on the length of title tags at all. Illyes referred to length as an “externally made-up metric,” saying that the winning formula would be a title tag that is “descriptive and concise.” But this doesn’t necessarily have a number, and a lengthy title will never result in a penalty.

Of course, it makes sense why SEOs would universally have settled on the 60-character rule: Search engine results pages (SERPs) truncate titles, and if you want your full title to show up, you need to keep it relatively short. But this information from Illyes is a nice reminder that if your title needs to be a little longer – and sometimes, inevitably, it will – it doesn’t matter to the people whose opinions matter most. Rather than focusing on title tag length, publishers should instead focus on the words that are necessary to accurately explain what a page is about. 

So, what can you do to satisfy Google and compel users to click on your page? Aside from keeping them descriptive and concise, official Google documentation has this to say about creating good titles: 

  • Avoid keyword stuffing: It’s an SEO no-no that makes your titles look spammy and is practically guaranteed to turn users away.
  • Avoid duplicate titles: Repeated titles make it impossible for users to distinguish between pages on your site.
  • Brand your titles, but do it concisely: Apply branding where necessary, and where not, simply include your site name separated by a hyphen, colon or pipe.

There’s nothing here that we don’t already know, and title tags are something we don’t need to overthink. Consider how it will look on SERPs and the information you need to include, and don’t feel constrained by a character limit that doesn’t exist. Title tag optimization is really that simple!

More SEO News You Can Use

Google Doesn’t Care About Slashes in Your URLs: On the topic of SEO standards invented by SEOs, let’s talk URL structure. Many site owners have put effort into creating artificially flat URLs – a structure that makes it appear as if every page is just a click away from a site’s homepage when, in actual fact, it’s several “levels” deep. Sure, this does away with slashes in URLs but does absolutely nothing for your rankings. In a recent Google Search Central office-hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that there are zero benefits to a flat URL structure. It’s not a bad thing for users (or Google) to see where they are on a site. Google won’t count the slashes in your URL or rank a page based on how many levels down it is on a site. The algorithm has better things to do, like list your competitors in your knowledge panel. Wait, we should probably expand on that, right?

Don’t Freak Out, But Google’s Knowledge Panels Can Display Your Competitors as Alternatives: A site owner got a nasty surprise when he noticed that Google’s knowledge panel was displaying not only information about his business but also an entire list of alternative companies (under a title stating “Top Alternatives,” no less). As Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable said, it’s pretty strange that you can have this nifty little knowledge panel showing off your brilliant business, and suddenly Google decides to list your competitors right there inside it. What? The irate site owner tweeted about the disaster, and Google’s Danny Sullivan responded, saying it was likely a test and he would pass the feedback on to the Search team. Phew. These SERP features are getting out of control. 

FLoC – At Least a Trial of It – Has Officially Launched: A few weeks ago, Google announced the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) as its alternative to third-party cookies, a response to a demand for more privacy on search engines. The FLoC model separates users into groups – or “cohorts” – based on their shared interests and browsing habits, meaning advertisers will be unable to target individual browsers and making the internet a little more anonymous. In a blog posted on Tuesday, Google announced that initial testing of FLoC has begun with a small sample size of users across 10 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. Google has also launched a brand-new website, The Privacy Sandbox, where it explains its new privacy-focused initiatives as a way to give users peace of mind. Check it out to keep track of The New Google’s initiatives.

Here Are Your Miscellaneous SEO Questions Answered in Record Time: In Google Search Central’s latest Ask Googlebot video, Mueller tackled a number of SEO questions in rapid-fire style instead of the usual one question. Some of the things we learned in under two minutes? Including a date in a URL doesn’t affect SEO, a single version of a website targeted at a global audience is fine and site owners should avoid multiple rel canonicals on one page when separate URLs are being pointed to. There’s more where that came from, so check out the video (you have two minutes to spare, right?) for a few more random SEO questions answered. 

We All Want To Rank for Competitive Keywords, But It’s Better To Start Small: Let’s get back to basics: keyword research, the bread and butter of SEO. And who better offer advice than Ahrefs? In a blog post published on Thursday, Joshua Hardwick explains the entire process of ranking for low-competition keywords, from start to finish. What might initially strike you about the step-by-step process outlined in the blog is that, well, it’s simple. Too simple. Hardwick explains that it’s virtually impossible for any third-party SEO tool to calculate an “accurate” score for keyword difficulty because all tools use a unique formula, and the only entity that knows anything for certain is Google. Even so, you have to start somewhere, and a keyword tool coupled with the steps mentioned in the blog is as good a place as any.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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