In SEO, it's generally the case that you can ask 10 different experts the same question and almost always get 10 different answers. A general consensus in this industry is a rarity. However, there is a sense of agreement concerning the importance of title tags. But, among programmers and designers, there is some confusion on whether or not the placement of these tags is important in regards to search engine results.
An article on SEORank.com notes the importance of title tags by stating: “Since the Title Tag plays a vital role in determining your site’s ranking in the SERP, you need to pay a lot of attention to the words that appear in the Title Tag and the order in which they appear. You need to develop a crisply worded Title Tag that includes your most relevant keyword phrases and performs the function of announcing the summary of your web page’s content.”
While their importance can’t be denied, I have stumbled across an interesting question: Does it matter where title tags are positioned within the HTML, in relation to SEO? The answer depends on whom you ask.
HTML rules dictate that title tags must appear within the tag. A normal page’s hypertext usually begins like this:
At HighRankings.com, a poster named “excel30” posed the question on the positioning of title tags within a page’s HTML. Specifically, “should the title tag always be first before the keyword and description meta tags?”
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
<Title>This is the title of my web page</Title>
The responses excel received answered the question very well. Poster “anthonyparsons.com” stated, “It doesn't matter where it is....as long as it resides within the <head> section. It is read as the page for what it is, not where it is...”
Anthony goes on to say that neatness is a factor in title placement and goes on to give an example of this:
Jill Whalen, of HighRankings.com believes the nature of HTML dictates that order is not as important a consideration as title tag content. She offers these HTML examples to indicate her point:
It can just as well be:
<Meta NAME="Description" CONTENT="Your descriptive sentence goes here.">
Because either style is acceptable for META tags, Jill reasons that the same applies to the order of opening web page tags. She goes on to say, “there was some controversy out there on whether it mattered if your Title tag came under the meta tags (because at the time, FrontPage put them there), but if memory serves, it was shown by others that it made no difference...I think perhaps it was even Danny Sullivan, but I might be mistaken.”
<Meta CONTENT="Your descriptive sentence goes here." NAME="Description">
I spoke to Danny (of SearchEngineWatch.com) to see if he could shed some more light on this subject. He stated:
“No search engine has suggested that the exact order a title tag is placed makes a difference. So, to my knowledge, it's still not an issue. Having said all this, if someone is convinced having the title tag appear in a particular order is useful to them, they can certainly keep at it. I just don't think it's been found to have much of an impact.”
In a related article that appeared in SearchNewz.com, Jon Ricerca asks the question, “Does Location Of Your Keyword Affect Ranking?” To learn if keyword placement has value in SERPs, read more here.