Have you been longing for a longer space to compose your page titles? Well, you are in luck! With minimal fuss and fanfare, Google has increased the width of desktop search results to 600 pixels. This means about 20% more horizontal real estate than before. How does this affect your website’s SEO title tags and meta descriptions? Read on to find out.

What has Google changed, and why?

A couple of weeks ago, Google displayed search results on desktop in a 500 pixel wide column. Now, that same column is 600 pixels wide, with slimmer margins around individual results. This means individual results are wider, with a little less white space around them.

Other types of organic search result are also wider than before. These include news articles, local listings and featured snippets.

600px-google-search-results

Ads are in 600 pixel wide containers, but their appearance has not changed. I don’t think this will last. This latest tweak could well be making room for new advertising opportunities. Watch this space.

How long should title tags be in 2016?

Feeling precise? Your title tags can now be up to 600 pixels long before Google truncates them. This gif shows my 599.63 pixel wide title tag fits, but my 600.63 pixel wide title gets the dreaded ellipsis:

600px-title-tag-limit

Looking for a rule of thumb? My example above is 73 characters in length. Stick between 65 and 70 characters, and most of the time you’ll make the cut on desktop without much truncation on mobile. That’s about 10–15 more characters available in your title tags than just a couple of weeks ago!

How long should meta descriptions be in 2016?

At the time of writing, meta descriptions are not taking advantage of the new space in search results. Most still cut off after about 155 characters, even when more are available. For example, here is a search snippet for a page without a meta description. It cuts off (rather awkwardly) halfway through the second line:

search-snippet-155-characters

For the time being, I still recommend making meta descriptions about 155 characters long. Make sure the most important information is in the first 120 characters, so it’s not cut off on mobile.

Any questions?

We’ll be following this news with interest at RocketMill. I’m always keen to discover new ways to make the most of search snippets and maximise CTR.

How are your search results performing? Are you fighting for rankings but failing to convert your hard-earned organic impressions? We would love to help – just get in touch.