Meta tags used to be the big, bad beasts of search engine optimization. If you manipulated them just right, you could get high rankings. Those days are gone, but they still are important.
The meta title is a very important for a number of reasons. From the perspective of obtaining rankings, it is helpful in identifying what is on the page in question. This, of course, means you better have a meta title that actually describes what is on the page in question.
Assuming you do, the meta title is very valuable for a reason many do not really think about. How so? Well, it actually can be used to bring in clicks from people reviewing the search engine page results. Consider the following example.
Assume I am looking to buy a construction invoice software program. I do a search for the phrase on Google, Yahoo, MSN or whatever. Ten results are kicked out and I start reading the titles. The meta titles appear as the first bold and underlined phrase for each listing.
Now, what result am I most likely to click? Most studies reveal that I'll click one of the first three. There is, however, more to the story. I am also more likely to click the result that uses the exact phrase I have searched for. In this case, I am more likely to click the listing that has the title that says "construction invoice software program" because that is what I search for.
This also raises a secondary issue regarding the meta title. Simply put, how many keywords should you put in it? There are different philosophies. Some people try to stick to one keyword phrase while others shoot for multiple versions. Personally, I tend to go with one keyword phrase so long as it equates to at least three words in the phrase.
At the end of the day, the meta title does not play the role it used to years ago when meta tags were king. It does, however, still have a decent effect on rankings and a strong impact on getting people to click through to your site.