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.