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Title Changes Alone May Improve Search Rankings

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Search engine titles

Sometimes even simple title changes may lead to better search rankings and search engine optimization.

I have written thousands of articles over the years that have had varying degrees of success with search rankings. On busy days when I have been more focused on clients during my consulting work, I sometimes have written an article or article title in haste.

During occasional content audits, I look at old articles for ways to improve them, both for readers and search engine spiders (the two major “audiences” of any website). Those ways include better:

Every article has different opportunities for improvement. Some lead to changes in most or all of the above factors and some lead to changes in only one (especially if I’m short on time).

The quickest and easiest way to impact search engine results is a title change. Changes include length, keywords and clarity about the article’s subject.

Search Engine Title Length

The title of an article is not necessarily the headline of the article. The title is what search engines see in the <title>Title Tag</title> of the document’s HTML markup.

The headline for many content management systems is what the visitor sees. It may repeat the title tag or something else if the CMS allows the publisher that kind of flexibility.

Knowing this difference is important for both search results and website visitor experience.

Search engines have a limit to how many characters they will display. Different sources make slightly different claims about the title limit for both Bing and Google.

Just examining the search results for various keywords on both search engines will have slightly different results because font letters have different widths. Keep in mind too that search engines may adjust their limit over time.

What matters is that the title length is usually between 55 and 65 characters before getting cut off. For example, this title:

Title length

“Title Tag Length and Meta Description Length Check Tool – EZlocal …”

Has 65 characters before getting cut off with a space and ellipses.

The headline, or version of the title that visitors see on a site, doesn’t have such a limit.

Note that the publisher has since removed the first use of the word “length”. Google no longer cuts off the title.

So why does the length matter in making title changes?

How to Make Better Title Changes

Proper length means a title shouldn’t go longer than the available search engine space. If the title is getting chopped off, the title obviously needs tweaking.

The most important keywords should appear toward the beginning of the title rather than toward the end so it does become that part of the title that gets chopped.

From there a publisher, editor or writer can focus on whether the title has the best possible keywords.

Are they broad with a critical phase that has only two keywords or highly focused with a phrase that has three or more keywords? Do they accurately reflect the content of the article? Does the article rank higher for a somewhat different keyword phrase than the one currently in the title?

In that case, it might make sense to change the title to that phrase to get even higher rankings.

Either way, a good title change often can improve the search engine rankings of an existing article.

And if the ranking improves just from a title change, imagine how it might improve even more with extra content or other changes to the rest of the article.

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