For the past year I have been doing some research with title tags and different search engines. Software like PHPBB and others keep the title tag to say 'FORUMNAME: FORUM CAT: TOPIC' or 'FORUMNAME: TOPIC' One way or another you have repetitive branding. But how well does it work? Do you modify your title tags to just be the message topic the poster posted?
I used to be all for putting my domain name in the title for urls worth branding, but increasingly I am thinking that most users look at the url in the SERP regardless so it may be a waste.
I tend towards just the topic. You may want to look at the searches you get and see how many you get that are a combination of the topic, category though to decide. Seems you should have the forum category somewhere prominent on the page regardless already, so it may not help much in the title.
hmm.. example... wait there it is right in front of me.
Do you modify your title tags to just be the message topic the poster posted?
That would be my strategy. You have plenty of other opportunities to brand. The topic titles are the most important part of the equation. That is why it is imperative that Admins and Moderators keep a close eye on the board. You want to correct typos and rewrite titles if necessary.
I lean toward the solo thread name as well. The category name is probably getting plenty of exposure in your breadcrumbs navbar. I second pageoneresults comments about editing titles - "Fast Help Needed" or "Read This ASAP" won't generate much traffic. ;)
(And don't forget to watch out for those nasty "powered by" phrases some software likes to add to the title!)
This will be different for every user, since people use the web differently. But my preference is to have the site name included in the title for threee reasons.
1. Bookmarks It's easier for me to remember the bookmark name if I know where it came from.
2. Finding the tab/window It's nice to have the site name in the title with many tabs/windows open. I usually have a bunch of tabs open in Opera and it's easier to jump to the tab I want if the site name is there.
3. Search engines When I search for an answer in google, if i saw webmasterworld in the title as I skimmed them I might go there first since I'm familiar with it and I know it's a good resource.