This was an interesting poll because there is no clear consensus on “the best way” for sites to handle page titles. It varies quite a bit even among similar websites. To keep things more focused, I put forth a very specific page: a blog article in a specific category. The choices were:
- 17%[Site Name] – [Category] – [Article Title]
- 17%[Article Title] – [Category] – [Site Name]
- 8%[Article Title]
- 37%[Article Title] – [Site Name]
- 17%[Site Name] – [Article Title]
And the winner, with 37% of the vote, [Article Title] – [Site Name]. This was a relief to me, as that’s what I use on this site and what I personally like the most. Also: that may have influenced the vote a bit but I like to think of regular readers here as being independently minded.
Full, real time results for this poll and all post polls in the polls archive.
These are the things that I think should be considered when choosing a site title structure, in order of importance:
- Human understandability & usability – The title useful for humans
- SEO value – Title clearly summarizes and correlates to content on page, looks enticing to click, and no funny business
- How it bookmarks – The specific page is easy to find again in social or local bookmarks
We should consider the fact that we don’t get much room for the page title when it’s displayed as a tab (all desktop browsers have tabbed browsing by default). We get about 26 characters at a maximum per tab. So if your website’s name is really short, like “NBC”, starting with site title might be OK. If it’s long, like “Smashing Magazine”, you are probably chewing up too much of that valuable tab room starting that way.
The usage of the site in question also bears consideration. I like that the site title at Gmail always starts with “Gmail”. I only ever have one tab open of Gmail and I want to be able to find that quickly I don’t care what “state” it is in at the moment. Whereas I often have multiple CSS-Tricks tabs open and it’s more valuable to me to know the title of the article on that page.
I can’t imagine a site where the category would be essential for human usability to be included in the title, but if it’s near the end and add some SEO juice, I can’t imagine it hurting either.
I’m not overly surprised with the #1 outcome, but I am by last place. [Article Title] was last with only 8% of the vote. With the limited number of visible characters in a title, the limited usefulness of the site title being at the end of the structure, and the “cleanness” of it, I’m surprised there aren’t more proponents of it.