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But a multi-prone strategy is better than "all short or all long titles.
Brett's Search Engine Theme Pyramids [searchengineworld.com] encompasses title lengths where top level pages are much more effective using shorter titles and deeper linked pages get much more targeted (higher focus) and longer titles.
It is best to avoid starting a title word after 58 characters as Google parses to 60 - 64 characters only.
One thing that works well is making sure the first three-four words are not only keywords but can be combined into keywords.
Definitely good advice... You get much more mileage out of a title this way. The tricky part is when you're going after two competitive phrases, one of which splits the other, as in...
wholesale red widgets
Here you have an exact match on "red widgets," and an approximate match on "wholesale widgets."
Depending on those other factors, though, if you want to rank well on "wholesale widgets," you may need to match the phrase exactly in the title. That means you'll need to drop "red" and to target "red widgets" on another page.
Here's a good thread to check out (it links to some others, too):
Page Title Length & Keywords
I do think there may be something to the shorter titles for index pages. I've tried it and it seems to have helped. Just be sure the title has your top key word or phrase and leve it at that. Get your other key words into the content and titles of sub pages.