Robert_Charlton - 8:32 am on Oct 7, 2010 (gmt 0)
Have any of you noticed this as well?
I have noticed that there's no monolithic alignment of target terms on the left as there once was... but no, I don't see any pattern of the highest ranking sites having targeted terms in the middle.
That said, on highly competitive searches like some [cheap widgets] or [cityname widgets] queries, there is a tendency toward the left side because high stakes might make for some conservatism of SEO technique... and perhaps because placement first in the title makes some sense in terms of human perception.
Sites that feature company or brand names up front would tend to push the target phrases more toward the middle. It's not too likely that target phrases would be at the end, but that might happen on a page targeting multiple terms.
If the company name has keywords in it, that further affects where the target terms might be positioned.