Google has been testing a new design for search results over the past few weeks and it appears that this new design will stay with us as it is being rolled out across more search results over the past week. This move allows Google to “improve consis­tency in design across plat­forms (desktop, mobile and tablet) and make it easier for (Google) to develop and ship improve­ments across the board.”

The biggest change that users will notice is the update to the format­ting and font for search results. Gone is the under­lin­ing that Google users have become accus­tomed to over the years. Addi­tion­ally, Google has changed the font for title tags making the title tags larger in turn reduc­ing the maximum length of a title tag.

For instance, title tags that were opti­mized for 70 char­ac­ters may now find them­selves trun­cated. Trun­cated Titles can lead to reduced click-throughs to your site and might make Google re-write your title tag to provide a better user expe­ri­ence. This could also hurt your ability to rank for targeted keyword phrases.

Opti­mally, a website should follow three basic best-prac­tices when construct­ing title tags:

  • Length: With the new search results, title tags should not exceed 56–64 char­ac­ters. This length is depen­dent on the pixel width of char­ac­ters in the title tag. For instance, the letter “I” is constructed with fewer pixels than the letter “W” and this creates vari­abil­ity in the title length.

Addi­tion­ally, because capital letters are wider than lower­case letters in terms of pixels, the length of your title tag will be even shorter with ALL CAPS. Capital letters should be used spar­ingly as this affects both the length of your title tag and click-throughs.

Also, the length of your title tag is affected by the search query used because Google bolds the keywords used in the query. By bolding the keyword, more pixels are used which could put the title tag over the maximum pixel length.

  • Use of Keywords: Opti­mally, it is best to have your keywords towards the front of the title tag as it will be more helpful for users. Addi­tion­ally, it is also best to keep user expe­ri­ence in mind while draft­ing title tags.
  • Brand Your Title Tag: The best prac­tice is to have your brand in your title tag towards the end of the title tag.

With the recent change to the length of title tags, it may be neces­sary to rewrite some title tags on a website to main­tain their optimal visi­bil­ity.