Does Google Look At Keywords In Long Titles?

Apr 10, 2009 • 7:47 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google typically cuts down the display of the title tag in the search results to no more than 65 characters. A WebmasterWorld thread asks does that mean Google won't look beyond the 65th character to determine what that page is about? Or if they do look beyond that 65th character, does Google deem the value of the words after the 65th character as less valuable?

The title tag is arguably the most important on page SEO component of a single page. Most, if not all, SEOs suggest that if you want to rank for a specific keyword phrase, you must have that keyword phrase in the page's title tag.

In addition, almost all search engines display your page's title tag in the search results, as the blue, clickable link to your page. It is vital to make sure the link is "clickable," meaning that people are encouraged to click it, by making it read well and appear nice.

Finally, the title tag is also displayed in the browser's title bar, tabs, and as bookmarks or favorites. So having them formatted nicely, is key in that respect. Let alone all the different social networking sites that use the title tag of the page as the default title of your article.

When formatting your title, I take the approach of making it short enough to be attractive in the Google search results. But you also want to make sure it has your keyword phrase in it. Will Google rank you for a keyword phrase that goes beyond that cut off? Most SEOs say yes, Google will rank you for keyword phrases found after the 65th character.

Long time WebmasterWorld member, pageonresults said:

There really is no hard rule when it comes to longer titles. I've seen titles with up to 20+ words perform just fine. tedster has mentioned that he has seen pages with longer titles perform for keyword searches where the words were towards the end of the long titles.

Senior member, wheel, said:

I care more about clickability than I do rankings when it comes to title and particularly description. I want my 'advertisement' to really pop out.

An older Google Groups thread has Googler, Reid saying:

Also making sure the most difference in the title is starting on the left ensures it will show up as a distinct button when the window is minimized or the tab is at the back of the browser window. Furthermore this also helps Googlebot in determining how unique that is.

I mentioned length of the description meta tag in terms of words because this is the typical measurement. But yes, 2 lines for a total of about 160 characters or so. As for teh title, it depends on the browse but about 70 characters are safe.

In short, there are no fixed number of words/characters that are allowed for a meta description.

A Googler did say have the most important keywords to the front of the title tag.

Let's not forget that Google recently confirmed showing longer snippets for the description part of the search listings. Would this translate to longer titles and clickable links? Who knows - it would not surprise me to see this.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

This article was written earlier this week and scheduled to go live April 10th.

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Eric Itzkowitz

04/10/2009 04:00 pm

In most cases it's actually 68 characters, but I have recently gotten a 70 character title in without truncation. It believe it depends on the length of the final word in the title that determines whether it will be truncated after the 68th character. Also, just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should do it. I personally believe that by forcing myself to keep to within the 68 character limit, I am keeping myself focused and as relevant as possible with regard to the keywords I am targeting for a particular web page.

Maurizio Petrone

04/11/2009 04:02 pm

It's quite easy to actually spot in a precise way the character limit after which the keywords are no longer considered part of the Title. Tip: Just run an INTITLE query combined with a SITE query targeted to a few pages with very long titles. In my tests, keywords stops to be considered part of title after 105th character, by Google at least.

Ilan Hertz

04/12/2009 08:23 am

I beleive that as you add more words to your title tag, the importance of each word/phrase goes down. In order to get a full effect of the title tag it shoud be focused and exact.


04/13/2009 01:16 am

Great topic here, I don't find nothing really wrong with long titles with SEO purposes but do find it trouble for clickable purposes. Its like a double-edged sword.

Michael Martinez

04/13/2009 05:08 pm

Not to take anything from your interesting commentary on the title tag, but this is one element of search engine OPTIMIZATION that goes beyond mere rankings placement. You want whichever part of your title appearing in the search listings to be relevant to the query and the user's needs. So it's not all just about rankings -- it's also about conversions.

Matt Kettlewell

07/16/2010 08:48 pm

Good tip, make your title look good and inviting to click

Rob Abdul

07/18/2010 11:10 pm

@Michael "So it's not all just about rankings -- it's also about conversions.", totally agree with you! @Matt, yep agree with you there!

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