In the modern day digital world things are changing faster than ever! Everyday there are literally hundred’s of new articles published featuring everything from new development techniques to Google algorithm updates. In reality, it is impossible to keep up to date with every new product and update that is released at the current rate of digital growth.
In the digital marketing world we are now used to the constant shuffle of the algorithm or complete new Google update, which usually results in marketers spending a lot of time either re-structuring our SEO strategy or throwing the whole thing out and starting again. In this fast paced industry we are now used to being told that a technique that once benefited our websites rankings, can now have the total opposite effect and even result in a website been penalised or banned from Google completely. Obviously this is hugely frustrating for experts within the SEO industry but is something we have to quickly adapt to and take in our strides.
With all that said, it’s rare that when a mainstay of SEO best practices, something that’s been a constant for several years, actually changes. We have recently seen such a mainstay best practice change, in regards to the ‘set in stone’ lengths of our page titles and meta descriptions. Years of optimising page titles to a maximum length of 60 characters, and meta descriptions to a maximum of 155 has come to an end.
Page Title Changes
The main reason for this being that Google now use 18px Arial for the title element, previously it was 16px. However interestingly, Google are still internally truncating based on 16px, but the CSS will kick in way before their ellipsis is shown due to the larger font size. The upshot of this change is that text is no longer truncated at word boundaries (before or after a word). Google may resolve this so that titles are chopped off at word boundaries as before, rather than in the middle of a word.
It’s also worth noting that Google ultimately have control over their snippets. They dynamically change the title by putting highlighted keywords at the end and truncating in the middle. We also see Google moving brand phrases to the start of a title dynamically, truncating much earlier than the 512px width on occasions or indeed using a completely different element (h1 etc.) if they believe it to be more relevant.
Meta Description Updates
Similar to page titles, meta descriptions are now calculated by pixel width, rather than character length. This pixel width is less than simply 512 pixels multiplied by two (1,024px), which you might expect and actually the CSS truncation appears to be around 920 pixels. Google are free to show any text here as the meta description if they deem it to be more relevant to the search query (including directories like Dmoz, or just the content of the page) not just the content of the meta description tag or just show much longer descriptions for longer queries.
Future Google Updates
We always follow new Google updates very closely in order to keep not only ourselves, but also our clients ahead of the game when it comes to their online presence. Moving forward, Creode will be updating our Journal with news articles about any new algorithm changes and Google best practices as and when they are released. We hope you will find this information useful when optimising your own SEO campaigns, so keep up to date with our blog by following us on Twitter.