I just had a pleasant surprise after installing the first alpha version of Joomla 1.7. It seems one of my biggest wishes in terms of SEO in the core of Joomla! has been granted because Joomla! now allows you to include the site name after the page title!
Image credits: tanakawho
In Joomla 1.5 there was no SEO setting to use the site name in the page title yet. However, given the code to handle the page title was quite simple in the Joomla! 1.5 framework, it was easy to write a small plugin to modify the page title back then.
A great tutorial on how to write such a plugin (with a full example you can download at the bottom of the page) can be found here.
Joomla 1.6 introduced two new SEO settings in the Joomla! 1.6 Global Configuration. One of these settings was 'Include Site Name in Page Titles' (and the other one 'Unicode Aliases'). The biggest concern I had with this new feature was that it was only possible to include the site name before the page title (a problem I discussed in the presentation found below).
The reason for why I was unhappy with this is the fact that a site name before a page title only works for large brands. These well known brands can benefit from the improved Click-Through Rate (CTR) they get from visitors in the search engines seeing their brand name before their title. Lesser known brands will most likely not get this boost in CTR from having their site name in front of their page title and are therefor actually hindering their own SEO efforts as keywords should preferably be placed as much in the front of the page title as possible for maximum value.
"According to SEOmoz's testing and experience, the closer to the start of the title tag a keyword is, the more helpful it will be for ranking and the more likely a user will be to click them in search results. SEOmoz"
Joomla 1.7 seems to have taken the best of both Joomla! 1.5 and Joomla 1.6. As you can see in the image it is now possible (at least in this alpha version) to place your site name either before or after the page title (or to hide it entirely). Apparently there was a tracker item in Joomla Code for this problem since the end of March of this year, which got closed about five weeks ago (after it was included in the latest SVN build). I somehow must've missed that when I wrote about the proposed new features and patches for Joomla! 1.7 a couple weeks ago.
Now that we can put the site name behind the page title, I'll most certainly start using this option again. How about you?