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Avoiding Truncated Meta Titles in Google

19 May 2014 Jim Powell

in Google, SEO

Over here at Flying Point Digital, we’re big believers in writing meta titles not just for the search engines, but for users too. One of the things we make sure to pay attention to is the length of the title so that it doesn’t get hit with that dreaded ellipsis (…). Anything after that ellipsis is getting cut off, and it’s not doing anyone any good. Ultimately it can hurt your conversion rate if the message you intended the user to see is being truncated.

You may already know that the point at which Google truncates your titles is not determined by the number of characters in your title, but by the number of pixels. For example, the letter “I“ takes up much less space than the letter “W”, so if you have more wide letters in your title, you have less space to work with.

We used to measure the width in pixels of each of our titles to make sure it would show properly in search results. But we’ve recently had to change that method up a bit.

Not long ago, Google quietly made a change to the layout of their search results. They removed the underline from the titles, and they changed the title font from size 16 to size 18. It might not seem like much of a difference, but the problem is, they didn’t increase the size of the search result box itself, so now you’ve got less space to fit your title. How much less? Well, it depends.

One thing to keep in mind is titles in search results will have words bolded if they’re a match for the search term. So if I search for Flying Point vs. Flying Point Digital Marketing, the same title will take up 2 different amounts of space. And it’s not a small amount either. Check out red line in this graphic below and you can see you lose at least a full letter just because of what’s bolded.


Google increases the font size of your title tag in SERP depending on the search query


So when I’m coming up with my titles, I like to consider the longest likely match of words that people will likely be searching for if they find our results. Someone is probably not going to be searching for “Flying Point Digital Retail Digital Marketing Agency” so I don’t bother worrying about all of those words being bolded. But someone might search “Retail Digital Marketing Agency” or “Flying Point Marketing Agency”, so those are the words I’m going to be considering being bolded.

So how do I know how much space I lose by having those words bolded? Well fortunately, Moz has created a great tool that helps us know exactly that. It’s called their Title Tag Preview Tool.


The Moz Title Preview Tool allows you to type in a search query and see how your title tag will be displayed in Google's SERP.


It can’t get much simpler than this. Just enter the title you want to try out, enter the longest search phrase you think they might use, and see what works. Yes it takes a little more work this way, but at least you know when your page comes up in search results, people are seeing the title you want them to see.

Google SEO