Write Page Title Tags Limited by Pixel Length with Ease

Paul Shapiro is a search marketer that loves to take both a technical and creative approach to SEO. Currently an Organic Search Director for Catalyst, a WPP Agency in Boston. In his spare time he blogs at Search Wilderness about SEO and watches a lot of horror movies among other things.

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    Google gave their Search Engine Result Pages a facelift in March 2014. 

    One of the most prominent changes was a change to to how they displayed page titles–increasing the font size to 18px in the Arial font face and wrapping them in a 512px wide <div> tag. 

    Although aesthetically pleasing, the redesign caused many title tags written for previous limits to become truncated in the new SERPs. 

    What an SEO headache!

    Pixels!?

    You might be thinking, 

    Whoah, what’s this pixel width stuff this guy is talking about? When I write my title tags, I keep them around 50 to 60 characters to avoid truncation”

    This is a common misunderstanding. Even prior to the 2014 redesign, title tags had pixel width limits and not character count limits.

    The pixel width can be resolved to an average character count (Moz’s Dr. Pete found the new average character count limit to be 55-characters), but it isn’t a precise method of measurement and is inadvisable. 

    In some cases, a title tag can get cut-off and be much smaller than 55-character. Similarly, sometimes a title can be much longer without any problems.

    It’s time to forget character counts and make the switch to pixel length. The total pixel width of the title tag area is 512px. Don’t let your titles exceed that area!

    pixel-length-header

    What Impacts my Pixel Length?

    There are some factors that can impact your title tag’s pixel length. 

    Every single ASCII-character has its own pixel width measurements, and is different depending on the font and font size in which it is rendered. 

    It is also worth noting that capital letters have different pixel lengths than lowercase letters, some punctuation takes up a greater amount of space than others, and even whitespace has a pixel width value that adds up.

    How Many Pixels?

    At this point, you may be curious about how many pixels long your title tag can actually be. 

    We know the title area of the SERP is 512px wide, but does this mean that it’s good limit? Not exactly.

    When you do a search on Google, the keywords you type into the search box (or close variations of them) become bolder in the SERP. These bolder keywords take up a greater pixel width and can also cause truncation. 

    Since it is difficult to ascertain the exact keywords a person may use to get to your webpage at any given moment, it is recommended that you build in certain buffer when writing your title tags to account for bolding.

    There are even some variations in maximum pixel lengths by browser and device type. 

    The Screaming Frog blog noted some of these variations, with the lowest common denominator equaling 482px wide.

    So, I usually try and build in 10px of buffer room, keeping my titles somewhere around 472 and 482 pixels wide.

    Use your own discretion, but whatever you do, don’t exceed 512px!

    See How It Works for Yourself

    Still not buying this pixel length thing? Take a look for yourself! 

    If you are a Google Chrome user, you can easily observe Google’s pixel width using the “Inspect Element”.

    Head over to a Google SERP and right-click on the title, selecting Inspect Element from the menu.

    Google chrome inspect to find title pixel width

    If you’ve clicked in the right spot, there will be a little tooltip over the result title displaying its pixel length.

    see pixel width in serp with inspect element in chrome

    For example, the above page in the SERP has a pixel width equal to 490.632px (you should round up).

    Solving the Measurement Problem

    You’ve decided that you’re going to use pixel width and not character count going forward. How do you do it?

    It’s not as easy as opening the character/word count dialogue in Microsoft Word and you can’t use the =length() function in Excel. 

    You’ve figured out that Screaming Frog will let you crawl your site and give you pixel widths for existing URLs. 

    Moz made that nifty tool to preview title tags as you’re writing them, but only allows you to do it one at time and it doesn’t actually tell you the pixel count so that you can account for the variations.

    Feeling stuck? I have a solution for you. 

    Haven’t not found a solution myself, I decided to create a free tool to check pixel widths for all to use.

     
    Advantages of this Tool

    • Up-to-date and accurate
    • Allow you to check titles in bulk
    • Allows you to check titles as you are writing them and doesn’t require the page to be already live
    • Export to CSV
    • Isn’t limited to a “preview”; gives actual pixel width

    Now you can easily find out the pixel length of title tags as you’re writing them and in bulk! Good bye Google truncation.

    Paul Shapiro is a search marketer that loves to take both a technical and creative approach to SEO. Currently an Organic Search Director for Catalyst, a WPP Agency in Boston. In his spare time he blogs at Search Wilderness about SEO and watches a lot of horror movies among other things.

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    Data: Ahrefs' Content Explorer

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    • pixels width ? its really one of different article.

    • I thought everyone gave up on “title length” when it was cut so drastically? I just did a quick search for “marketing agency” and 9 of the top 10 are truncated titles. A search for SEO shows 5/10 truncated and “melbourne pizza” is 6/10 truncated. With the exception of the local maps, it’s way over 60% truncated titles. 

      Google just took it a bit far. I haven’t worried about hitting the exact limits in a year, at least.

      • Hey Matt. This tool, in particular stemmed from a big, Fortune 100 client of mine that was paying extra close attention to title tag truncation. So, it’s definitely a subject on some peoples’ minds. I think a lot of people stopped paying attention to it because it became more difficult and old optimizations needed to revisited (we call this laziness). There is also definitely an effect on CTR (which might be a subject for another post).

    • Thanks for sharing such an important information.Its true we always look after the character count rather than the pixel count…We will surely keep this in mind in future…

    • Alex Bellet

      Thanks Paul for this great tool/article. Is there anything different from Screaming Frog’s tool though?

    • Thanks Paul! Love quick and effective tools like this!

    • Impressive solutions

    • Ben

      How about for Meta Descriptions? This is an area I am having issues with truncation more than titles.

    • I mean the tag

    • Muhammad Junaid

      It’s really great tool to make a perfect title and I highly appreciated your efforts and especially your Pixel Calculations, but please keep tool FREE 😉

    • Hi Paul

      love the ability to bulk check titles, good stuff.

    • Sunni Tinajero

      Serviceable writing ! Incidentally , if someone is wanting to merge two PDF files , my husband came upon article here http://goo.gl/0qJ6yV

    • bni007

      Using SeoTools for Excel you can do this in Excel:
      =IF(PixelWidth(“My title”;“Arial”;18)>482;“Too long”;“Ok”)

      (Also has an Ahrefs integration)