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Stack Overflow has made a change to their page titles such that the most popular tag for a question appears at the start of the title. The change is being deployed across the network, so check out the page title for this question.

Compare the question title and the page title for this question:

  • Question title:
    Is it safe to use ASP.NET MVC3 RC?

  • Page title:
    asp.net mvc - Is it safe to use ASP.NET MVC3 RC? - Stack Overflow

I understand the change to try and stop scrapers ranking higher on Google. Adding the most popular tag to the page title seems like a good idea.

However, a side effect that I'm noticing is that with a lot of tabs open, now the only part of the title that I can see is the tag. Would moving this keyword to later in the page title harm these efforts to improve SEO?

Possible title:
Is it safe to use ASP.NET MVC3 RC? - asp.net mvc - Stack Overflow

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2  
It might be a good idea to edit another example into this post, since the specific question cited isn't really valid any more -- it doesn't insert that tag in the title when the string already exists. –  Jeff Atwood Dec 11 '12 at 12:03
    
@JeffAtwood is this logic case-insensitive? –  Wolf Feb 13 at 14:00
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1 Answer

up vote 93 down vote accepted

Yes, putting important keywords closer to the beginning of a title does help SEO. SEOmoz's ranking factors survey agrees, as do other sources.

Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag
66% very high importance

Keyword Use as the First Word(s) of the Title Tag
63% high importance

Keyword Use in the Root Domain Name
60% high importance

Keyword Use Anywhere in the H1 Headline Tag
49% moderate importance

Side rant: Personally I hate this because it actually devalues user experience in many cases. For home pages, if you are a company selling red widgets a spammy title like "red widgets, widgets, blue widgets" can be more successful that "Awesome WidCo plc - suppliers of red widgets".

I believe the site name should come first on the home page, but SEO forces you to do the opposite.

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3  
I agree too and +1. A possible solution is "red widgets - Company Name", but I agree that i would prefer to see just the "Company Name" in Google results and NOT a bunch of identical titles "red widgets - company A", "red widgets - company B", "red widgets - company C". If you want to have fun search on Google for "Hotel Cattolica", look at page 2. –  Marco Demaio Dec 10 '10 at 12:35
2  
Added a MSO to request that the tag be removed from the title using JavaScript. meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/71951/… –  Yahel Dec 10 '10 at 22:58
34  
+1 - Frustrating when search engine algorithms encourage sites to degrade general web experience –  Whisk Dec 10 '10 at 23:27
5  
@the they already did, and we didn't, which is why we had this problem in the first place. –  Jeff Atwood Dec 10 '10 at 23:30
7  
@sparr poll or not, the results of the poll match our practical, real world experience exactly. In fact the #1 item is the thing we changed before knowing about this poll, again, based on real world observation of results. –  Jeff Atwood Dec 11 '10 at 5:15
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