When it comes to functions on a website that can have the biggest impact on SEO, title tags are certainly up there in the top 5. The title tag works really well to offer a descriptive line of the page, occasionally when webmasters or site owners don’t understand or put the upfront effort required in getting it right, you can find title tags reach the character guidance – getting truncated in the search results page.
There are some ways around fixing this issue, rewriting it is a good option, I’ve also dropped the branding off the end, if used, to squeeze in a suitable title tag. Sometimes the page can reflect a topic which is a naturally wordy or high character topic. You shouldn’t try and squeeze keywords into the title tag, especially if it doesn’t describe what the page is about – but you should align it with what people are looking and searching for specifically. There are also additional problems you can run into when creating tags, these can range from search engines bypassing your manual title for writing their own (based on the site content) or perhaps issues around duplication of page titles.
Given how much of an impact the page title can have on ranking, every SEO crawler should be carrying a rigorous assessment of title tags, relaying back information on common errors. So I’d be relatively confident with running a SEMRush, Sitebulb, Screamingfrog and ahrefs crawl on my site to identify these errors. Pages can be added frequently on a site (with or without intent) so I’d encourage regular crawling of these pages too. You will likely be given a list of URLs to work through – it’s really important to take the time to get these title tags right.
If you are close to the limit you can normally get away with minor tweaks, perhaps use & instead of and, marginal gains like this can often present the page title without truncation. If you try and substitute words, try and maintain good search volume keywords – although they will be associated I’d try and keep the pages as relevant as possible. I’ve also removed the brand term on the ad-hoc title tag change, which will have minimal impact on the overall performance of the page title. I’ve also seen webmasters and site owners try to use pages for too many themes/topics, diversifying your pages to be specifically themed can also make page title creation much easier and shorter.
It sounds simple, but try to condense pages to serve specific pages, if you’re creating a diverse page covering multiple topics and themes it can be really difficult to condense that into the 50-60 characters you have. This can also serve as a problem for visitors who are trying to find something specific, having to trawl through a lot of content. So start by creating condensed pages relevant to one topic or so – then spend the time writing effective and condensed page titles, ensuring you fit within the character limit. There may also be occasions whereby your site creates pages, such as tag directories, where the title tag can be too long or too short; running a frequent SEO crawl on your site will also reaffirm your site is utilising tags effectively.
Additional notes on long title tags.
- Just because you have a title which matches the character limit, doesn’t mean it’s effective – consider the wording and keywords used too.
- SEMRush, Screaming Frog and Sitebulb all have effective detection methods when it comes to title tags.
- Missing title tags can be an issue as well as too long, short titles can be highlighted but not necessarily a problem.
- Always consider that the title tag is something your potential visitors will see first, so write it to be read and not stuffed with keywords.
- You may occasionally see Google, or other search engines, completely bypass what you have written in your page title and create their own – this is a symptom your copy may not be as relevant as it could or as effective.
- Almost every CMS will allow you to write page titles on a page by page basis, I love using WordPress as all the core areas, from tagging directories to product pages have this functionality, depending on which plugins you use.