You have all seen them, push button SEO reports. Even if it comes in as a bunch of spreadsheets, it’s more than likely a push button report.
I get them from spam emails as well as clients who receive them from marketing companies. It’s generally the same thing, you have tons of errors that need to be fixed in order to have a better website in SEO terms. From an email marketing stand point, these are scare tactics in order to get your business. Having them “clean up” the list, isn’t actually going to get your website to rank better because they have no context of what keywords you are targeting.
SEO is about target marketing. You focus on what terms and phrases you want to rank for. It is a very precision type of approach. These push button reports are all but precision. In fact, all these reports have no information on what content you need to include to fix the so called problem. Why? Because they don’t know what you are targeting, they don’t know your industry, they don’t know where you rank in Google. More importantly the person that ran these reports doesn’t know either! This very broad, uninformed reporting system is not productive, and a backwards approach.
Why are these SEO reports so popular?
We all love reports, we all love to be graded and strive to get a high score. But that’s mostly all this is, a checklist and a grading system to make you feel better about yourself, or create the illusion that you are being productive, or giving a false sense of importance.
Anyone can sign up for the reporting systems (SEMrush, MOZ). And push a button to generate a report that they can then send to potential clients, or maybe existing clients. The tool was designed to attract customers to these paid services. Yes there are benefits to their automated reporting, but not as a blanketed, generic method that has become common practice. Shockingly I am seeing these reports creep into things that are in no way SEO related.
Page Title / Meta Title length
I have been around long enough in the industry to know exactly when this topic started to become popular and what is now known as standard practice. I didn’t agree with it then and I still do not agree with it. And it is not a matter of my opinion, there are many facts involved why this Maximum Page Title length has no real world bearing. When this was first starting to pop up on the internet, mostly MOZ and Search Engine Journal, I quickly testing out whether or not limiting my Page Title to 70 characters actually helped my SEO efforts. And I found it was actually the exact opposite. I ranked better for pages that had more text in the Page Title meta tag. This makes sense since you can include more keywords or better description to Google what the page is about. And here we are over 10 years later it’s still a popular thing to put on reports.
So where did this Maximum Page Title come from? It came from these automated tools (or the people that create these tools to sell you a service that included this very false narrative). Google truncates the text on it’s search results, meaning the user can only read up to 70 characters. This is a UI/UX usability thing, not SEO. From an SEO stand point, limiting your Page Title length actually gives less information for Google to rank your page. This is one of the biggest misinformed elements on these push button reports, they all have max character measurements and more than likely you are failing with 100s maybe 1,000s.
Interestingly enough I am not the only one pointing out this. You can read the article that quotes the Head of Google SEO department.
Lastly, Google stop serving up the meta content the user adds to their website quite a while ago. All knowing Google, decided it would server up it’s own meta information in it’s search results based on it’s own algorithm. There is no guarantee Google will actually show the text you put in your Page Title tags or Meta Description tags. The UI/UX argument is no longer a valid argument and this notion that Page Title tags should be limited to 70 characters (or some tools say 60 characters), is completely bogus.
WordPress, which is over 40% of the internet can and will break when you try to do this. Most WordPress websites will have third party plugins installed, each plugin is going to handle their code very differently. So first you don’t really have control over how that plugin will load in the files, but more importantly if you try and combined multiple different code bases into one, or compress something, you will likely run into problems.
The next time you receive an SEO report or Page Speed report, ask yourself, do I really need to do all the things on this list? The answer is generally no you do not!