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Increase Traffic From Organic Search With This New Best Practice

Posted on Apr 1, 2014 in Search Engine Optimization Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

I’m going to share an updated best practice for HTML page titles For those that don’t know, this is the title that shows up in search engines and serves as a major factor in a user’s decision to click through to your site.

The Way Of the Past: Google used to use 70 characters for the title that appears in search results. If the title went over 70 characters including spaces it would get cut off. Unfortunately, the majority of pages abide by this legacy 70 character limit, or worst case, have no consideration for what limitations Google imposes on title tag length. There have been a number of changes recently witnessed in Google’s redesign. Most notably are the changes in font size and how paid search listings appear, primarily that the ads on the right-hand side have been moved to the left to appear more inline with the organic results.

The Way of the Present: Google no longer uses a fixed character limit. Instead, they use pixel width to determine title length. Each character on a keyboard has a different width when typed, and the combination of character widths that make up the title needs to fall below Google’s limit. This means that it’s now more difficult to recommend a new number instead of 70 to abide by, since a revised recommendation of 60 characters may allow the full title to fit some of the time, but not all of the time. How do we provide marketers and content writers with a new recommendation, while maximizing our probability to ensure the full title fits without getting cut off at the same time? Fortunately, Dr. Pete from Moz has compiled this analysis, which is quickly making its rounds around the web as the new best practice to follow.

So what’s the recommendation? Well, it’s a bit of a moving target. Sparing you the science-y stuff:

Aiming for 55 characters will ensure that only 1 in 20 blog post titles get cut off. As less characters are used, the odds increase in our favor. The %’s below are confidence levels. ie: at 56 characters, 2 out of 20 blog post titles get cut off.

80% – 57 characters
90% – 56 characters
95% – 55 characters
99% – 53 characters
99.9% – 49 characters

This is is important not for ranking purposes, but more for click-through purposes. It’s long been confirmed that search CTR’s are higher when the full title is visible to the user.


-When creating content that will live on a new page, complete the HTML title using no more than 55 characters.
-Stay away from upper-case letters, as these are wider and see increased probability of having the titles cut off.
-Continue to make sure that the title you choose remains contextually relevant to the copy used on the page.
-If you’re struggling to make it fit in 55 characters, it’s okay, depending on the width of the title, it may still fit!

If you’re interested in seeing the methodology behind the study and how results were compiled, see Dr. Pete’s post over at the Moz blog.