We SEO copywriters are constantly studying the latest trends in search and keeping up with the algorithm changes that Google, Bing and others throw our way.

So, it was with some interest that we noted this post by Ruth Burr on SEOmoz last week: Watch Out for Long Title Tags

Luckily we keep within the recommended character limits when we write Title Tags for our clients, but we can’t always guarantee how those tags are handled by their CMS or blog platforms, especially when page headings are on the long side.

What’s wrong with long title tags?

According to the case study, it seems that Google is trying to do some good and now attempts to algorithmically write a better (shorter) title tag where there is either no title tag specified, or where the title tag is truncated in the search results.

This means that those posts with titles longer than 70 characters will sometimes result in strangely worded titles. (Read the SEOmoz post to see what we mean.)

Check your posts now

If your CMS automatically generates a Title Tag from the title of your post, you should go check how all your listings are displayed in Google (and Bing for that matter). Check that the results actually reflect your SEO strategy, use the correct keywords and give a good reader experience, without the truncation and ‘revision’ by Google.

Go through all your pages with your SEO copywriter and where necessary get him or her to write shorter custom Title Tags for every page.

Title tag tips for SEO copywriters

Luckily SEOmoz did the homework for us and we can confirm that our approach still works. Using these general guidelines will yield the best results for both the search engine results and for the reader, but you should always check how your results appear in the search engines just to be on the safe side.

  • Keep title tags under 70 characters; fewer if your title uses many wide characters such as W, M and A (Google truncates by character count and by actual width)
  • Describe the page accurately
  • Use keywords: this is always a good idea because it helps your ranking and helps guide your reader to your page in the list of results
  • Write in a friendly voice: robotic copy doesn’t warm up your prospects, so try your best to write a title tag that is also ‘human’

Lastly, we recommend checking your results in the search engines (all the big ones) once you have published your pages.

When it comes to search and SEO copywriting, the old adage is especially true: change is the only constant.

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