Google’s search results redesign means fewer letters in link titles

Hopefully you’ve been getting a lot of practice on Twitter crafting your message with a spartan character limit, because you’ll have to put those abbreviated writing skills to work writing titles for Google.

As Peter Meyers on The Moz Blog shows us, Google is now using a bigger font on the “10 blue links” that it returns to its search engine results pages (SERPs) when users type in a query. It’s not clear why Google made the change. But you might surmise that either Google has determined that web users have poor eyesight, or more likely that they are viewing the results increasingly more often on the smaller screens of mobile devices.

So what does this mean for your webpages representation on Google? This image shows a search result before the redesign (top) and afterwards:

So the larger font means you have less room to fit your page title into the search results. The amount of characters that will actually fit into that title vary, since different letters will take up a different amount of space. Capital letters will take up more space than lower-case letters, so there’s another reason to avoid using all-caps titles (as if you needed another one).

But Meyers did some testing and found that on average, most titles are cut off after 57 or 58 characters. His detailed analysis is worth a read, but in the end he says that a writer can be confident a 55-character title will fit into the allotted space 95.8 per cent of the time.

Thinking about how many characters will fit into your page titles is important for click-through rates, as a web browser is more likely to click on your page if the title isn’t cut off. But the titles after the cut off point are still using by Google to determine ranking, and might be shown in some scenarios where Google uses two lines to display titles, such as in Google News.

While you probably don’t want to spend time going back and rewriting every blog post you’ve ever written, it may be a good idea to update some of your main landing pages.

Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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