‘Frontloading’ the titles of content has been an issue in entertainment media for years. By this, I mean getting the key term at the start of the title. The problem was recently highlighted by the Warner Bros studio deciding to rename its latest blockbuster film (after it had opened in cinemas!) from ‘Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)’ to simply ‘Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey’. Why? Because filmgoers were referring to it as ‘the Harley Quinn movie’ and unless search results and other listings were displaying a lot of characters, any reference to ‘Harley Quinn’ would be cut off and invisible.
I’m told by a friend who works in TV that it’s something all production companies have to think about because of the ubiquitous on-screen TV listings grids we all use on Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, etc. A half-hour show in the listings grid might only have enough space for a couple of words. If those aren’t the important two words, no casual viewer will click on your show. Call a show ‘Blue Widget World’ and its title might just show in full in the grid. Call it ‘The Wonderful World of Blue Widgets’ and the listings will probably show something like ‘The Wonderful…’
The titles of our pages in Google Search results will be cut off in different places, depending on the device used to view them, so getting the important words at the start is really important. Many SEO experts say it doesn’t matter to Google if the keywords are at the end – and perhaps even cut off. But it matters to humans, and therefore to your clickthrough rate. It’s wise to stay on top of what the search engines are actually showing for your pages in the results, and ensure the important elements of the title haven’t been consigned to the ellipsis bin.