Planet13 - 1:34 am on Jan 14, 2012 (gmt 0)
Specifically, if I have an article with a title of three words or less, Google will often append the title of the site's home page to get its SERPs title.
In situations like this, I try to include a "subtitle" the way that so many books do nowadays.
So I would change a title like:
to something like:
Antique Widgets: Identifying and Valuing
Actually, I would probably do what I mentioned before, look at the search terms that people are actually using to find the page and, if applicable, include them after the subtitle.
there is also something to be said about including synonyms (or what google considers synonyms) in the title, at least for increasing click-through rate.
Remember that the keywords AND synonyms (as defined by google) are BOLDED in the SERPs. I think that influences searchers' behavior.
(Note: including synonyms can, of course, confuse google about the subject matter of the page. Use with caution.)
Also, one thing is to remember what differentiates your page from other people's pages, and include that in the title.
My informational pages have a lot of information but are designed to be easier to read than wikipedia pages. so I include words like "made easy" or "introduction" or "for beginners" or "101" or something like that. I can't compete withwikpedia on breadth of content, but I can compete in terms of clarity and practicality.
So if wikpedia ranks above you, maybe change the title to:
Antique Widgets: A Practical Guide To Valuing Ancient Widgets
Or something along those lines.