Longer Google Title Tags, Blogging Under Question and More

| May 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

Is a blog always the best choice when adding new content to a website? Has Google changed the length of its display title tag? And can you ensure every piece of content you create is evergreen? Read on…

New content – To blog or not to blog?

Everyone knows a blog is the perfect way to update a website and keep things fresh. But in some digital marketing quarters questions are being raised about whether every single piece of new content should end up in a blog, and the answer might just be ‘no’. Is it wise to stuff every single piece of new information into your blog, or is there a better way to get information across to the right people at the right time? I’m certainly aware some of my best and most useful content is in blog post form, and that it could be more useful – and perform better – elsewhere.

Most businesses, mine included, create a basic site structure then bung everything else into a blog. Blogs usually have a flat or horizontal architecture but some SEO experts prefer a deep structure, also called a vertical architecture. It’s easy to see how a deeper structure allows for simpler grouping of content as well as cleaner navigation. Take a silo structure, which you can organise with impeccable logic according to hierarchical groupings like topics and subtopics, where topically relevant content is structurally near other topically relevant stuff.

Silos let you separate top-level ideas and break them down into smaller and smaller categories until the resulting pages answer every major search query. Here’s an example:

  • Your main silo is digital marketing
  • Secondary silos contain subtopics like SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media, conversion optimisation and more
  • Each of these has its own collection of silos, drilling down even farther

Next time you have something important to say, you might want to think carefully about where it would have the biggest and best impact. If I ever get round to redesigning this site, I’ll be doing exactly that.

Do changes to Google’s column width mean longer title tags?

Google has been busy testing a new left-hand column in the search results, increasing the width from 512 pixels to 600, a change of 17%. How many characters can you fit into a display title these days? Does the 55 character limit from 2014 still apply?

You might think so. But there are things to consider. One, character widths vary. A lower- case I takes up less space than a capital W, for example, and the number of characters you can squeeze in depends on which you use. Two, these days titles are cut off at the end of words, not part-way through. And third, Google is appending brands in some cases, cutting off the title and adding a brand name to the end, which counts towards your total character allowance.

How do you ensure your title doesn’t get cut off in its prime? The trick is to pick a number you feel safe with instead of pushing things to the max and hoping for the best. It’s worth doing because research proves people prefer clicking through on titles that are not cut off and left hanging. On the other hand a judicious parenthesis… can drive people to click through and solve the mystery. Either way, every little helps and every title deserves close attention.

Some experts are recommending titles under 60 characters. But like so much Google does, the change might simply be a short term experiment rather than permanent. Perhaps it’s safer to stick with 55 for now.

Make every piece of content evergreen

Evergreen content is information that people will always need. It attracts search traffic and readers long after it’s published. Can you harness the principles of evergreen content to make everything you do evergreen? While some content will never be evergreen simply because of its nature – gig dates for a band, for example – it’s usually worth a shot.

Evergreen content is about pleasing readers, of course, but it’s also about search engines. Evergreen is only evergreen when search engines have indexed it and surface it in the search results. So you need to work with search engines in mind, carrying out keyword research and crafting well-written meta data.

If a piece of content has gone out of date for any reason, for example you’ve written about Google’s search algorithm and they’ve just released a new version, go back and add the new information to the original page, article or blog post. And mention the update at the top of the page so visitors know there’s fresh information to be had. People and search engines appreciate freshness. The fresher your content, the more likely it is to be surfaced in response to relevant searches.

Good quality writing is always essential, with a beginning, middle, end and conclusion. As is a search engine and user-friendly layout with headers and subheads, bullets and numbered lists, and at least one image.  The more of Google’s boxes you can tick, the more of people’s requirements you can meet, the more chance you have of making evergreen content that’ll remain popular for years.

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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