Google’s search results page design changed last month. That is, the page that shows a list of websites when you do a Google search.

A number of changes to the search engine results page have now occurred that can affect how your website listing is displayed in the search results. Underlined text has now gone; Google AdWords adverts look different, with background shading removed and the addition of a small Ad notation.

However we would consider the most significant change being to the Title Tags. The Title Tag font size is now bigger. It is now 18pt larger than it was previously being at 16pt. A minor change you may think, but what impact does  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 scripted Title Tag written to include the relevant keywords the page is targeting to assist and encourage visitors to click-through to your website. Your page Title Tags combined with your Description Tags form the basis of the search results. Following Google’s redesign to their interface your Title Tags may now be cut off and not appear as you initially intended them to!

Google originally suggested up to 70 characters (including spaces) for the Title Tag that appears in search results. If the title went over 70 characters (including spaces) it would get cut off. Google now no longer uses a fixed character limits, instead, they use the pixel width of the characters to determine title length.

Old Google Interface – Title Tags

title-tags-google

 

Each character on a keyboard has a different width when typed, and the combination of character widths that make up the Title Tag needs to fall below Google’s limit. This means that it’s now more difficult to recommend a specific number of characters for Title Tags, since the length can vary  even though the character count remains constant. Each character can take up a different amount of space. For example if you use CAPITALS or M’s, W’s or other wider characters, the number of characters you can include in your title tags may be less. If you Title Tag is too long it will now chop off in the middle of a word.

So what’s the optimum length of a Title Tag now? Unfortunately this isn’t a straightforward question to answer! As explained the space that each character takes up has always had some influence on the number of characters you can use in a Title Tag, but following the text size increase this now  has greater impact.

New Google Interface – Title Tags

The below shows the same three title tags above and how the new Google interface displays them on the search results page without any adjustments.

title-tags-new

 Title Tags – What should you do?

Fortunately, some in-depth analysis has been conducted which is quickly becoming the new best practice to follow. If you aim for 55 characters in your title tags you are likely to be ok 95.8% of the time.

So our advice is to review your Title Tags and where necessary aim for 55 characters with spaces. Why? Statistics have shown that search click-through-rates are generally higher when the full Title Tag is visible and correctly formatted to the user, however the bottom line is it shouldn’t affect your rankings, but it may affect your click-through-rates.

Have you seen changes or have had to make changes to your Title Tags? We would love to hear your stories, let us know by commenting below.