How Google uses the title tag in HTML

What is an HTML title tag?

A title tag is an HTML element that is used for the purpose of defining the title of a webpage and the content within a page. Common places you will see title tags displayed are in a “tooltip” within the tabs of browsers and they are displayed by search engines in search results as blue links that will take a user to a webpage relating to the user query.

The main purpose of the use of the title tag and how Google uses the title tag in HTML in search and other search engines is to quickly inform the user what they can expect to find if they click through to the web page.

Because the title tag is used by search engines in this manner, the title tag should contain text that is concise and that is relevant to the content found within the page.

There is a common misconception that when it comes to on-page SEO, Google uses title tags to rank web pages and that they need to be under a predetermined character length in order to rank well.

The reality is that the title tag relates more to CTR and really, the length of the title has nothing to do with ranking. The suggestion to keep title tags under 155 characters is primarily for display purposes. After 155 characters (or so) search engines will truncate the title at the nearest word-break using “…”. Also the suggested character length has been used to simplify the fact that really Google displays based on pixel width – 600 pixels.

This does not actually mean a title tag is required to me 600 pixels or less. Really you can go beyond this “limit” and “sneak” in a few more keywords or simply describe the page using the number of characters you deem necessary.

If you pay attention to Google Search Central and the podcast hosted by John Mueller you might already know it is perfectly fine if your title tag stretches out to one or two sentences.

How Google generates titles

Recently Google introduced a new system for generating titles for web pages. In the past, there was a possibility Google might change the title tags they display based on a user search query.

With the recent update to the way Google displays titles, this is no longer the case. This is because with the new system Google is confident they are now generating titles that best describe what a web page is about regardless of a particular query.

They do this by not just relying on the content contained within the title tag. In addition to the title tag Google also now uses text that users can visually see when they arrive at a web page. This includes text that is contained in <h1> elements and other heading elements such as <h2> elements.

Their new system is not limited to just title tag and <h*> elements. If they find content that has large font and is defined using styling as being prominent they may also treat the text as a title/heading. They may also use text in links that point to the page.

With that said Google still recommends site owners focus on creating great title tags. They are clear about the fact with the various methods they use to generate titles, the title tag element is used to generate titles 80 percent of the time.

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