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Optimal length of TITLE element - Changes in the algo?

 11:16 am on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is there a minimum number of words to use in the <TITLE> these days? On previous searches (a couple of months ago) I did realise that when searching for a competetive word WIDGET1 most of the time the sites shown only had the exact matching word <WIDGET1> and no more words.

When searching today for the same word WIDGET1 all of the sites shown have 3+ words in <TITLE>.

What is the optimal number of words in <TITLE> today?
My guess is 5-8 words.



 3:30 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm glad you brought up this topic. I don't have massive data on this, but an observation on the other side, about long title tags with many key phrases.

There is one particular site I've watched for a while because it was so extreme. The home page has a title tag of over 10,000 characters! Conventional wisdom always said is was a crazy thing to do, and yet this home page was ranking well for almost every phrase in that mega-title, and for a long time.

It's no longer ranking - so that points to a definite shift in the algo, and a welcome one as far as I'm concerned.


 3:38 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sometimes Goolge prefers a shorter title and sometimes they tend to give more credit to the longer titles. I really think it depends more on your vertical and the other listings around you. Do a search for your keyword and look at the top ten listings? What is the average length of those title tags?

Google only shows the first 65 characters, so I tend to draw the line there if I can.


 3:46 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

When that page with the monster title was ranking, Google chose the relevant portion of the title for display purposes and included "..." at the beginning. Does anyone still see an example of "...this is part of the title"? Other observations about size of the title element?


 3:54 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)


Did the tile text appear to be the same as their on page content? or Do you suspect this was a deliberate attempt to deceive the engines? Was it just stuffed with keywords or were there full length sentences?


 4:19 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)


the different keywords I am working with have all shown this change within the last 2-3 months I think. I usually liked 3-5 words in title, but place 1-5 normally for 1-2 word searches normally showed the once with titles exact matching (1-2 word in titles).

On the same searches today, not a single listing with less than 3 words in title. More like 5-8 words. And these categories are very wide apart from each other.


 4:21 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

It was stuffed with keywords as an attempt to rank. The one ranking phrase that I first noticed was ONLY at the end of the title element and nowhere else. It had a relationship to the site content and there was another inner page that was relevant - but no direct link to that relevant page from the home page.

They had a run of maybe 6 months out of that approach!


 4:48 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Doing more research I now noticed a site on a competetive search that ranked No 2 on a search for a two word search "WidgetThing WidgetTown".

The "WidgetTown" where twice in the 14 word long title, but nowhere to be seen in the text. Even did a search in the sourcetext.

Personally I think it should be more relevance if the searchterm is represented in the document and not only in the Metatags. Are we back to good-old-days when Meta-stuffing was everything?

Not really evil, but not entirely nice to users either and not quality results in my opinion.

I will try a site with title-spamming and let you know :-)


 4:58 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

A quick note - the title element is not a meta tag. It is THE most important on-page factor for measuring relevance. In contrat, meta tags are not used for ranking purposes on Google today, although the meta description is apparently used for some ground-level indexing decisions.

There's been significant confusion generated around the web by calling everything in the <head> section a meta tag. This has probably caused many webmasters to devalue the power of a good title element.

At the same time, several people have reported that frequent changes of their title element (looking for the sweet spot, I assume) may have caused them a long term ranking demotion.


 7:43 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not sure what the optimal leangth is but I'd say it is very important to have your target term first. My most successful titles are in the form:

<title>target keyword - good reason to visit this site</title>

That way even if you rank at #2 or #3 if you have a more compelling reason to visit your site in your title you can out pull the one or two results above you. And if you get to #1 you can really clean up.

Its a bit like a free Adwords ad.




 3:08 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Only if your well known quality brand would you place the brand before the keyword. Obviously Well known brands attract more clicks.

[edited by: Johan007 at 3:08 pm (utc) on April 6, 2008]


 3:56 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have been seeing long, excessive key word strings in Title tags using asterisk and have been ranking very well almost a year now. In fact the first character in the title starts with an asterisk, so it really stands out too.

<TITLE>*CITY Beach rentals *CITY beach condos *CITY beach vacation rentals *CITY beach townhomes *CITY beach condominiums *Resort CITY *COMPANY NAME Vacations *COMPANY NAME International</TITLE>

I too have see 36, 16, 18 words strings using this same format for a title.

Looks like stuffing to me but Google seams to love it.

I have seen some much longer than that.

I thought that the use of an asterisk or other such charters were not to be used at the beginning of a title tag. I am here to tell you, Google loves it.

I my area there are about six websites all built and maintained by the same Webmaster using this format.


 12:21 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

do you mean it is ok to start using ,./- and other caracters as well? I learned to avoid "all unnecessary" signs in the title.

Or do you think it only applies for * ?


 1:24 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I was referring to "*" and the use of this throughout the title tag especially the first character in the title. When used as the first character in the title it accents that specific title as compared to the other websites around it.


 3:31 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Does anyone still see an example of "...this is part of the title"?

I have a few sites with long titles (by this I mean over 65 characters).
When Google lists these pages in SERPs they always just show the first 65 characters, even where a word or phrase after 65 characters is the one searched on.

ADDED: this may be because the full phrase is being used in the snippet (either from meta description or body text). I don't have any pages where the text is ONLY in the title tag.


 3:36 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've always kind of figured that any extra wording in the title would dilute the strength of the most important word or words. So I try to keep 'em as short as possible while still including the most relevant concept.


 3:44 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I personally believe that a well written title that conveys professionalism about a site i.e. "Brand Name - Widget Name followed by a sentence about the actual widget brand" would work well...

It has it seems, until now... Google seems to change its Algorithm so often my site seems to be attached to the string of a yo yo.

Iv adapted to suit Google and moved up by taking the brand name away and moving the Widget forward, but in my view this will in time damage google as it will turn into a sea of sites using the same titles and eventually harder for the end user.


 4:43 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)


Does repetition of the keywords on the title tag penalised?

If I consider 5 as the optimum level, Can I repeat the keywords for 5 times?


 4:50 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

As on today the character limit is 60. So you must ensure that your title fits in , in to the said limit.


[edited by: tedster at 5:04 pm (utc) on April 8, 2008]


 5:22 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

As on today the character limit is 60. So you must ensure that your title fits in , in to the said limit.

I still see up to 65 characters including spaces for titles in G.


 5:36 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)


until a couple of months ago I was certain that it was the case. The more word would create less value for every word. However, looking at the SERPs today, most of the short Titles are gone.

Looks like it could be a very long Title today, eventhough only the first part is visible in the SERP.

Maybe also the META Description is a part (or a bigger part) of the algoritm now?


 12:03 pm on Apr 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

any extra wording in the title would dilute the strength of the most important word or words. So I try to keep 'em as short as possible

Netmeg, I always used to do this too, but got curious and started playing around about 12 months ago. I now regularly use up to 8-10 words for the home page, with internals sometimes shorter. Hasn't meant loss of rankings on the sites I've tried it on, but I do back it up with links. In fact in one instance I think it even helped me out of a -950 filter.

I have to say though that with everything so up in the air at the moment I can't tell if things have changed in this regard recently.

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