This is the question I asked myself one early morning whilst pondering some of the recent “advice” I’d heard a new recruit tell me he’d received once. The advice was not to have page titles any longer than 60 characters. The premise is that Google doesn’t read, keywords after the point that they truncate (cut off) in the organic search results and therefore any words that appear after the ellipses, the “…”, in the page title are essentially useless. If your concern is click-through rates from the search results making sure your important words are within the 600 pixel display limit is important, however it is not necessarily going to affect rankings as some SEOs might claim. I could not find any evidence to substantiate my theory that Google does in fact read and index content in page titles above the standard 600 pixels it displays. That led me to conduct a very crude experiment to see if Google does in fact read, index and use these words in rankings.
The experiment was a simple one. I’ve detailed my steps below so you can have a go at repeating them for yourself.
Find a keyword that has low competition and which Avenue is not already known by Google to be related to.
I chose “porcupine coffee deliver”, no, it’s not supposed to make sense and I’m not entirely sure how my brain conjured it.
Set up a page on the Avenue website (see https://www.avenuedigital.com/en-gb/news/seo-experiment-page/) which contains no reference to this phrase other than in the page title.
Publish the page and then submit it to Google Search Console to be indexed.
Wait a while for Google to index the page. I was quite impatient so checked back almost immediately and found to my delight that the page had been indexed.
Test. I searched for “porcupine coffee deliver” and low and behold, third in the organic search rankings was my page, pipped by a couple of articles about companies offering coffee delivery services.
As you can see from the below screenshot the keyword phrase I was looking to rank for was completely cut out of the search snippet. The fact that the page was being returned as a result for the search phrase “porcupine coffee deliver” with the only reference to it being in that part of the page title that was cut off goes to show that Google did read it and did use those keywords within its ranking process.
As an SEO agency in London, we work hard to ensure we understand the processes Google uses to rank a website, and to analyse the tools used to ensure they are delivering accurate data.
Author: Helen Pollitt