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The character counter shows the total number of characters for your title tag including the Site Title which is automatically appended to your title by All in One SEO Pack.
We append the Site Title in order to comply with Google’s Quality Guidelines for Titles and Descriptions which states that titles should be branded. Specifically, they state “consider including just your site name at the beginning or end of each page title, separated from the rest of the title with a delimiter such as a hyphen, colon, or pipe”. All in One SEO Pack does this for you and you can control this in the Title Format fields under All in One SEO > General Settings > Title Settings.
Therefore, if you have a Site Title that is 17 characters long including the pipe and spaces, then the character count for your SEO Titles will always start at 17 characters. For example, the SEO Title below is 21 characters long, 4 characters for my title (FAQs), 17 characters for the Site Title, pipe and spaces (| Semper Plugins):
FAQs | Semper Plugins
FAQs = 4 characters
| Semper Plugins = 17 characters