What should the title tag length be in 2024?

The title tag is one of the most important SEO elements. It can have a great impact on your rankings. In my experience, optimizing title tags can give rankings a strong boost.

There are many different ways to approach optimizing a title tag. One is making sure they fit within the 55-60-character limit (which I think is a bit outdated today). Other SEOs suggest it’s OK to have title tags up to 70 characters long.

There are also concerns that having the title truncated in search results or rewritten by Google can negatively affect organic performance and click-through rate. 

In this article, we’ll explore the basis for such concerns, Google’s official statement about title length, and my findings after manually looking at 645 title tags of Google’s SERPs.

Example of title tag cut off in SERPs

Technically speaking, the number of characters for a title tag that Google can display in SERPs is measured in pixels. When your title tag is too long, Google can cut it off like this.

SERP listing with a truncated title.

The title tag update and the aftermath

In August 2021, Google released an update aimed at title tags. This update enables Google to show a different title to users in SERPs than the one available in the HTML title tag. 

HTML title tags may get rewritten in SERPs when they are:

  • Too long.
  • Stuffed with keywords.
  • Missing or containing repetitive “boilerplate” language (i.e., home pages might be called “Home”).

Once the update was released, it caused an uproar in the SEO community as many SEOs have reported incidents where the title rewrite went “horribly wrong.” 

Rob Woods reported an incident where the title tag was replaced with the URL slug:

slug used as SERP listing title

Chatter in the SEO community showed many examples of Google replacing <title> tags in the search results with alternative page elements like H1 tags, image alt texts, image file names, and sometimes the selected text was not even within the source code of the page. The most noticeable insight from the title tag update is that “Google wants shorter titles displayed in SERPs.”

This has caused some panic in the SEO community. Many SEOs started to double down on the importance of avoiding title rewrites by making sure their titles are short and within the character limit.

The confusion

It is clear to everyone that Google wants shorter titles in SERPs.

But does that mean they will use the titles displayed in SERPs (which may be potentially cut off or rewritten) for rankings instead of the HTML title?

This has led many SEOs to assume that longer titles will either get cut off or rewritten, and Google will not consider them for rankings but will consider the new title displayed in SERPs for rankings instead.

What is Google’s official statement about title length?

In a Search Off the Record episode, Google’s John Mueller asked Gary Illyes about title tag length:

“I have a question that is, maybe, just a yes or no thing, Gary. Is there a value in having title tags that are longer than the displayable space and the sections of it?”

To which Illyes gave a very clear and precise answer, “Yes.”

He added, “The title length, that’s an externally made-up metrics… Technically, there’s a limit, like how long can it be anything in the page, but it’s not a small number. It’s not 160 characters or whatever– 100, 200, 20, or whatever.”

And recommended to “Try to keep it precise to the page, but I would not think too much about how long it is and whether it’s long enough or way too long. If it fills up your screen, then probably it’s too long, but if it just one sentence that fits on one line or two lines, you’re not going to get a manual action for it.”

If we refer to Google’s documentation on SERPs titles (a.k.a., title links), there’s no recommended length or character limit specified for the title tag.

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Would having longer titles impact rankings?

If longer title tags can get cut off or rewritten in SERPs, wouldn’t that impact rankings? Luckily, Lily Ray popped this question on X and got this reply from Glenn Gabe.

This is aligned with what Mueller said in Google’s SEO Office Hours from Dec. 11, 2020.

So whether your titles get cut off or rewritten in SERPs, Google still uses the HTML title tag for ranking considerations, not the titles shown in SERPs.

I personally think we should not write shorter titles for the sake of it. The title tag is one of very few elements that impact rankings over which we have control. I always try to utilize them to the maximum, avoiding spammy practices like keyword stuffing.

My analysis

I want to put this argument to rest. Hopefully, as an industry, we stop recommending to clients to “shorten” their title tags for the sake of it. There’s been a title length metric circulating in almost all online resources and tools with nothing but “we don’t want our titles to get cut off or replaced” as evidence to support this recommendation.

I put together a set of 100 URLs and analyzed the HTML and SERP titles for each of those URLs. For those selected URLs, I also had historical data of their SERP titles from 2022, which means we can also see how Google changed how they displayed titles in SERPs (interesting, right?)!

Here are my findings:

  • Google seems to prefer displaying shorter titles. The longest title displayed in SERPs in my sample of 100 URLs is 61 characters long. 
  • 27 URLs had their titles cut off. The HTML titles in those situations ranged from 59 to 117 characters. So, does creating shorter titles guarantee that you will not get cut off in SERPs? No!
    • Here’s an example of a URL with an HTML title of 59 characters “Business to Business Advertising: Changing the Conversation” and this is how it looks like in SERPs – still cutoff:
Sample tite tag - 1
  • Another interesting observation is an instance where Google re-wrote the title and decided to cut it off. Yes, Google cut off the title it created! The URL has an HTML title of “Small Business Marketing Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Grow” with 67 characters, and here’s how it looks like in SERPs:
Sample tite tag - 2
  • When comparing SERP titles in 2022 with SERP titles in 2024 for the same set of URLs (making sure that their HTML title didn’t change), we see that out of the 100 URLs, 33 had their titles SERP titles changed differently than their 2022 version. This means that Google can and will change SERP titles over time if needed. The main difference noted is:
    • Google removed the branding text appended at the end of the title tag. This means that even if you add branding text at the end of your HTML title tag, Google can decide against showing it. The recommendation is not to count the branding text as part of your character limit, regardless if you want to have a shorter title.
    • Google generally shortened the titles in SERPs even more in 2024 vs. 2022. Here’s a sample of the changes noted: 
SERP titles - 2022 vs 2024
  • On the other hand, in the 100 URLs sample, there’s one example where Google decided to add the brand name to the title in SERPs, even though the brand name was not part of the HTML title tag.
  • Out of the 100 URLs sample, 29 are the same as the HTML title. 
  • Google seems consistent with removing the branding from title tags, even if the title tags are short. Here’s are examples of titles that are below 55 characters that had their brand name removed from SERP titles:
SERP titles compared - 2022 vs 2024
  • Will writing shorter titles help you avoid title rewrites? No! Here’s a list of example titles that were short and still got re-written by Google in SERPs:
SERP titles comparison - 2022 vs 2024
  • The most common length of titles displayed in SERPs in this sample is between 45-55 characters (see histogram below):
Length of titles displayed in SERPs 2024
  • Here’s also what the title length looked like in 2022 so you get an idea of the changes that occurred. You can see that the titles are getting shorter. (Note that the sample here was much bigger for 600+ URLs)
Length of titles displayed in SERPs in 2022

Title tag length in 2024

You do not need to stick to a 55-60-character limit for your title tags. Your titles can be – and should be – as long as needed within reason. Shorter titles guarantee you no additional benefit in terms of SEO:

  • Shorter titles can get re-writes.
  • Shorter titles can still get cut off.
  • Shorter titles can still get their brand name removed.

Shortening your title tags does not have any real value. Optimize them well and leverage the whole real estate. Title tags are among the few assets that highly impact rankings that we still have some control over. Let’s make the best of them.

The best advice I can give is to optimize your titles to rank first even if you go above the 60-70 character limit. Then, experiment to adjust how your titles look in SERPs.

Additionally, if you decide to use a character limit, do not count your brand text that’s appended at the end of the title as part of your character limit since, chances are, Google may ignore that part anyway.

If you don’t rank, it doesn’t matter how long your titles are. So focus on optimizing the titles first to rank, then evaluate how they look in SERPs and fine-tune accordingly.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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