Rand from SEOmoz recently posted an article detailing two different approaches to structuring a page’s title tags. There are different schools of thought regarding what structure is best suited for titles. The two approaches mentioned are Rand’s “Company Name – What is this page about” and Ammon’s “What is this page about – Company Name.”
I think overall it depends on your particular goal because it’s all a balance of SEO, branding, and trust (or clickability). I think it’s most helpful to take a look at an example (rather than trying to figure this out theoretically).
So in honor of Rand’s bold style of footwear, take a look at some SERPS for “yellow puma shoes“:
Put yourself in the “shoes” of a searcher and see what you’d be most likely to click. The results are pretty spot on, but some are more “clickable” than others. The first one has a good title tag (assuming you’re a man), good description, and good URL:
I personally think it would be more clickable and targeted without “Clothing & Accessories at BizRate” since that dilutes the message (I don’t care about clothing and accessories) and I don’t really have an opinion on Bizrate as a brand. To me, this would be more clickable:
The second spot uses the same approach (company at the end), but since I don’t know Viloria (or what “secondthoughts” mean), I think it would also do better without the brand name.
Note: Both use sex as a differentiator so they’re probably missing out on half of their potential click-throughs (for this particular query).
The only result that uses the company name at the beginning here is eBay:
This makes sense because even at #6, the brand may draw the user’s eyes to click on it before the others. I agree with Blackbeard when he says:
I think it’s foolish to believe that most sites have enough of a brand that their name should be first on anything except their home page really. Just about anything local or regional probably doesn’t have enough of a brand that it’s going to cause the user to click. Not to mention that if someone is looking for your brand then they search for your brand. If they are looking for a product they search for a product, not your brand.
Different sites warrant different approaches and it all depends on your goal. However, if I was to make a generalization, I would recommend having your “What is this page about” as the Title tag without your company name, unless you have a very popular or very trustworthy brand that might persuade your users to click on your link instead.
However, since I’m pretty sure that you’re not trying to rank for “yellow puma shoes” and your goals might be a little different than mine, the best advice I can give is: run a search for what you want to rank for, compare what you see, and think about what you would most likely click on as a human being if you had the attention span of 200-300 milliseconds.