It a well known fact to SEOs and content writers that link text (for internal links), otherwise known as the anchor text, is heavily used by Search Engines for ranking. The reason for this is that content writers know that to attract visitors to another page the anchor text must be meaningful. However, this anchor text cannot be used for the search results however, and therefore search engines use page titles for the search results "titles". The reason for this "titles" importance is that it has been shown in studies that users will look at the title of a search results in preference to the description of the page below.
The most commonly used title used by a search engine for its results pages is the Title Tag in the header of your code. However some sites or pages within sites simply do not have this tag, so this is a problem. Other problems include; the title is incomplete (e.g. missing a keyword descriptor), it is too long, it has no relevance to the page, every page of the site is the same.
So what makes the "perfect" Web Page Title?
1. Make it relevant - if your page is about your company then fine you should simply use your company name, but if a page is about a service give it the title of the service or if the page contains information on a key theme, use the key theme as your title. Clear and Concise communication of the page content is key. (oh and since you ask "about us" is not a useful title.) Eg. This site uses the structure <page title> - <site name>
2. Use correct Capitalisation - this is a commonly misunderstood idea. In simple terms you should use capitals in your titles to emphasise a certain word, for example most commonly the site brand name is capitalised. My advice is if you are not sure if you should use a capital or not, then don't ...putting capitals in the wrong place can often stop visitors from viewing your site from a search engine. Imagine a search result : "ANDYKINSEY - SEARCH ENGINES" and another of :" AndyKinsey - Search Engines" which are you more likely to visit?
3. Each page should have a unique title - no two pages should share a title.
4. Home Pages are Special - Although you still must let the user know what is on your page you must also elevate your company / brand name, if only for web credibility. Doing this will also mean that at a glance in search results a person can find you through recognition.
5. Length of title - Although in practice you can have a title of unlimited length this is of no use. Search engines will generally use 66 characters (Google) in search results, but SERP's will still recognise the rest of your title. So perhaps use the first 66 chars for describing your page and mention your brand name thereafter could work for you. But i should add this doesn't work for all sites for SEO, it can be just as damaging as useful if used incorrectly.
6. Use of Keywords - if possible you should use a keyword or key theme in your title, however in describing what is on your page to make a title relevant you should already be doing this. My advice is not to keyword stuff your title... this will dilute any other SEO you perform.
7. Grabbing Attention - Ok so you've seen title that use brackets, colons, semi-colons, hyphens, asterisks and exclamation marks? Some people over do it eg. ((*(( Some Website Title - Brand Name ))*)) - This was a real web page title i have simply removed the words as to remove the identity. My advice is keep it simple, Search Engine Optimisation - Webpage Titles - AK Designs Do NOT use special characters, eg. the copyright symbol. Do NOT use HTML tags such as the strong or emphasis tag.