What is a Title Tag?
The title of your page is perhaps one of the most important content areas of your site for SEO. As its name suggests, this tag includes the title or very brief summary of the content users can expect to find on the page. It's found in the head element of the HTML source.
A typical title tag:
<title>Your Source For Blue Widgets & Green Widgets | Acme Inc.</title>
The title is used in many places, but perhaps the two main areas of importance are the browser's title bar and the anchor text of your page's snippet on the SERP. Search engines give content in this area perhaps the highest weight of any content area on the page, so it's important that this area is optimized well.
What Does "Title Too Long" Mean?
A title is considered too long if it is longer than 70 characters. Any URL with a title over this limit will be considered too long.
Why It's Important
If a page's title is too long, it's not necessarily a huge problem - there is no ranking penalty for having titles that are too long. Instead, most search engines will simply ignore (or de-value) any content after the first 70 characters. They'll also be truncated to around 70 characters on the SERP. Actually, each search engine will truncate at different lengths. Since the search engines with the earliest cutoff is at around 70 characters (Google), it's best practice to keep lengths to this limit so we can be sure the full title shows in all search engines.
This means that if you have your most important keywords after the 70 character point, they will be ignored by search engines and not help your rankings. Even if there are no keywords after the 70 character point in your title, it's still a good practice to keep them under this limit so that you can be sure the entire title will be shown and not be cut off.
How to Fix
Consider shortening longer titles to under 70 characters. You may not decide to do this with every URL, but it may be a good idea to fix more important pages on your site or those with keywords in the title past the 70 character mark.
Best practice for titles is to keep the total character count between 40-70 characters, with your most important keywords as close to the beginning of the title as possible. This usually means listing your brand name or the name of your site last, since it's less problematic if this gets cut off.
Other Guidelines for Writing Effective Titles
- Keep title length to 40-70 characters
- Place your most important keywords as early in the title as possible
- Keep your brand name or site name towards the end of the title
- Titles should be natural and human readable, not just comma-separated keyword lists
- Each title should be unique
- For very large sites, consider using programs to automatically create template-based title tags, but make sure these are human readable and make sense