I have just finished reading Rand Fishkin's post on Title Tags:
It's a great review of the importance of these and best practices, but a couple of questions came to mind while reading this that I'd appreciate Cre8asite feedback on.
Use the title of your site or brand at the beginning or end of every title tag to help searchers know where they're going and to increase return visits.
In other words, put your business name or brand name in the title tag. Now, this took us aback. I specifically remember hearing (where, I can no longer remember) that you shouldn't put your company name in a title tag, apart from on the homepage. Where I heard this, I can't remember, but we're talking about some years ago. When did the thinking on this change? I can certainly see WHY it changed. But, when?
Could it be this old advice was meant for new businesses who don't have a recognized brand and were being advised to use their title tags purely for the keywords of their products/services? In a way, such advice doesn't make a lot of sense...as how would you ever build a brand without starting somewhere? On the other hand, it makes a bit of sense in that if you are selling toasters and the name of your web business is Shop at Joe's, none of the words in your business name are keywords. Of course, they become keywords once your business establishes a brand, but starting out, they aren't. Does that make sense?
Maybe I'm finding Rand's advice on this too general. In some cases, perhaps it doesn't make sense to have a business name in your title tag on every page. Comments?
The second point I'll quote from is as follows:
Re-using the title tag of each page as the H1 header tag can be valuable from both a keyword targeting standpoint and a user experience improvement.
My favorite Matt Cutts post ever seemed to indicate just the opposite of this:
Matt appears to be indicating that you get more 'juice' out of making the title different from your H1 or content phrases. Obviously, each use of the keyword phrase deals with the same subject, but saying it in different ways (perhaps with plurals, or using conjunctions or prepositions in the phrase) may actually work harder for you in terms of shooting for the long tail. Please, what are your thoughts on this?
My third query stems from people in the discussion following Rand's post indicating that title tags are good because they help human visitors know where they are on the site. I have to say, I have yet to meet a client who had ever even NOTICED the title tag. I never noticed it myself before getting into SEO. We use breadcrumb navigation toward the goal of helping visitors gain a sense of where they are at in the site...I really don't know if average folks ever look up in that far lefthand corner to gain information about anything. The eye tracking studies I've seen seem to indicate people look at the main body of the screen (kind of to the left side), but not up in the corner.
This is obviously a completely different issue than title tags being vital for whether people click on your listing in the SERPs. In that case, the title tag plays a pivotal role in people deciding whether to visit you or your competition. But as far as title tags orienting humans within a site...I really doubt this.
Please, what do you think?