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by SEO Mofo on Jun 17th, 2012

in SERP Experiments

The original post is below, but for the impatient folks…here’s the quick answer. This post’s title is 107 characters long. In the past, Google would have cut off the SERP title after 70 characters. But now, Google shows the entire title–all 107 characters. You can verify this for yourself by clicking here. Based on this experiment, it is reasonable to assume that Google no longer cares how many characters are in your SERP title; all it cares about now is how wide (measured in pixels) your title is.

I’ve been working on developing a new version of my SERP optimizer tool. Part of that process requires reverse-engineering Google’s server-side logic through a series of trial-and-error experiments. For example, one of the things I have to program into the tool is a cutoff point for the SERP title. When I programmed Version 1 of the tool, Google’s logic was pretty simple:

  • If the title has 70 characters or less, display the whole thing.
  • Else, display as many whole words as possible, without exceeding the 70-character limit.

This logic was confirmed, for example, by this SERP experiment.

However, as I’m programming Version 2, I wanted to revisit those experiments and verify that nothing has changed.

Unfortunately, things *have* changed.

For example, in SERP Experiment No. 1, I created a title with 70 wide characters and Google showed them all:

Google SERP showing 70-character title

Here’s what Google shows now:

Google SERP showing 70-character title

The next word in the title is “warriors”, which would have made the title 54 characters long. But Google didn’t display it–Google cut the title to 45 characters. It doesn’t take long to test a few SERP listings and verify that plenty of them contain titles longer than 54 characters, so clearly Google’s server-side logic isn’t as simple as it used to be.

How does Google determine where to cut off your SERP title?

The first guess, naturally, is that Google is determining the actual pixel width of titles, regardless of how many characters it contains. If this is true, then I should be able to craft a title using a bunch of really thin characters–and then we can see how many of those characters get displayed in Google’s SERPs.

My thin title is in place. Now I publish this and wait…

Say hello to my 107-character title

Google SERP showing 107-character title

Confirmed: Google no longer puts a limit on the number of characters in your SERP title. Rather, it limits the title based on the pixel width.