During a recent installment of Google’s Office-hours Hangout in 2023, an intriguing question was posed to John Mueller: Does the length of a title tag influence Google’s ranking decisions? Notably, many of his title tags extended beyond the conventional 65-character limit. This conversation offered a captivating exchange replete with valuable insights, especially given the pivotal role of title tags on search engine results pages.
While the prevailing notion suggests that search engine result pages (SERPs) accommodate title tags up to 65 characters, whether this limit is officially mandated or merely a pragmatic guideline. In a bid to unravel this, we delve deeper into the conversation.
Title Tags: Between Rock and a Hard Place
The individual raising the query shared his professional background in a news organization, which produced a substantial volume of articles daily, amassing a vast database of millions. He acknowledged the SEO wisdom behind adhering to a 65-character title tag limit. However, he disclosed a divergence in sentiment from senior management, who held reservations about this particular SEO practice. He conveyed their perspective by stating, “They were very upset about that because …news should be like a long title and a good title.” This situation left him in a challenging predicament, caught between contrasting expectations.
Given this context, he proceeded to inquire whether adhering to a specific character limit for title length significantly impacted search rankings. Despite his exhaustive online search for a conclusive answer, he found the information landscape lacking in a definitive response.
Best Practices in One’s Profession vs. Best SEO practices
“No. We don’t have any recommendation for the length of a title.” answered John, straight up. He further added that it was more of an editorial choice, if anything, and not a ranking related SEO issue that needs to be fixed. He explained:
“So, I think kind of picking a number from your side and saying on mobile like this much room is available so as an editorial guideline we’ll say 65 or whatever you want to choose. That’s perfectly fine. From Google, from the …search quality, the ranking side we don’t have any guideline that says it should be this long.”
What is an Ideal Length for a Title Tag Then?
The person who asked the question then followed up with another, stating what if the title length was long that it didn’t even appear as a snippet and wanted to know if that however was a ranking factor.
“No, no… the length doesn’t matter. If we show something shorter or if we show something slightly different that’s just kind of how we display it in the search results, it doesn’t mean the ranking changes.” said John.
Take a moment to view this scenario from a user’s perspective—an individual seeking to learn and comprehend a specific topic. While the length of the title tag might appear secondary, its essence lies in providing immediate clarity about the content of the corresponding page. Simultaneously, it should entice the user to click and explore further. This is precisely why a well-crafted title tag plays a pivotal role in addressing a user’s query by offering a glimpse into the page’s essence.
To delve into this concept further, consider watching John Mueller’s response to the question, which commences at the 02:57-minute mark. Additionally, remaining engaged with the ongoing discussion might unveil other valuable insights worth considering.
Source: Search Engine Journal