Worth noting that my use of the word "focused" above isn't saying it quite right, as shorter is in fact often more general, not more focused.
If so, it may be that, going forward, a more focused title (and perhaps, by implication, a more focused page) might do better in Google search. Questions arise also about what to do with old titles.
To put a finer point on it... a three word phrase, "big red widgets", is more specific than the two-word "red widgets". It isn't extremely longtail, though, and it's not multiple phrases targeting multiple variants or concepts.
But, for titles so long or varied that they are going to get rewritten (and, if that hasn't happened yet, I'm assuming it will happen), there are many questions about title length, authority, truncation, ranking, and rewriting, and how they might interact....
For long tail
, I've been convinced for a long while now that Google is not favoring targeting variants of the same statement or question in the title. Google is looking more for authority for head phrases, and it's discarding multiple ways of saying the same thing. It's looking at titles more as concepts. You can see this for some queries as auto-complete suggests the same set of serps for four or five different variants.
With regard to multiple keyword phrases
, though, up until recently we've seen reports that on pages with multiple keyword phrases... the pages that rank with those titles have gotten rewritten to the brand plus the one phrase that matches the query. I'm seeing rankings for such titles apparently drop off, though, at least on "multi-target" pages I follow... and it sounds here like RedBar is reporting this too....
I may try:
BRAND: keyword phrase - keyword phrase - keyword phrase
I wouldn't if I were you, done it, tried it, rejected it.
RedBar... am I reading you correctly?
I'm wondering also, now, about long Amazon type product titles
, where all sorts of relevant specifications are included in a long title. While often much of the title wasn't displayed in the serp, the truncation had been manageable. I haven't done enough test searching to see how truncation affects these now, but a combination site/query search shows that many such titles don't present very useful click motivation.
The old question about whether title length has a diluting effect comes up again here. If there is a dilution effect, note that Amazon has enough inbound link authority that it can do things that smaller sites can't. Ability to rank on a long title may not matter, though, if the displayed title isn't clear enough to prompt a click.
I should note, btw, that the description still is 160 characters, and page specific descriptions may be a more critical part of the mix for prompting clicks.