The H1 Guide To SEO

Headers are used for structure on a Webpage. The most important items on a webpage are typically the largest and the most obvious. A H1 tag, or Header1, is an HTML term used to indicate the most prominent text or image on a page. These are followed by other tags, H2 through H6. These tags are ranked by order of most important to least. Not only is it important from an SEO perspective to get these right, it makes the page easy for an actual person to read. A good analogy for headers is a newspaper. The most important things, like the papers title or front-page feature, is the most prominent. Other article titles might be H2, then maybe a subtitle as H3, and then finally the article text which is usually handled with a ‘p’ or ‘paragraph’ tag. Google expects a webpage to be laid out with a series of headers that makes sense to the reader.

But, is it OK to have multiple H1 tags on a single page? This is a contested topic among SEO professionals. Some will argue that it’s fine to include multiple H1 tags on a page, within reason. Others will insist that only one, the most important element, should exist. One thing that they agree on is that abusing H1 tags will definitely get a webpage penalized by Google and Bing. So creating multiple Header1 tags on a page for the purpose of trying to improve ranking is definitely frowned upon. In 2009, Google made a statement that multiple H1 tags on a page are not a problem as long as kept within reason. For example, look at WordPress. It’s widely accepted to be a great web platform for SEO. Their default theme, Twenty Eleven, creates two H1 tags by default; one for the site title and one for the page or post title. That’s a pretty clear message that having two on the page is not a problem. Of course, just to throw things off, Bing recommends only one per page.

Developers can also create H1 tags on images. Many prominent, well-ranking websites utilize these tags. Of course, Bing also suggests that all H1 tags are text only. So, it doesn’t appear as if using H1 tags as part of images is a huge problem, but should be avoided when possible. If they truly appear to be a prominent part of the page then a Header1 tag may be a sensible approach. However, typically it’s preferred to leave H1 tags to the title of a page or post, and leave images without them. This is because the same image, whether it be a logo or other image is displayed on multiple pages. SEO specialists may want to use a unique H1 tag on every page from an SEO strategy perspective, and not repeat the same phrase multiple times. This is much easier to achieve by reserving the H1 tag for text. One could, however, choose to use two H1 tags on the page, one on the logo and one for the title. However, since the logo appears at the top of the page it would be evaluated first.

So how much will using Header tags properly help a site’s SEO? As far as on-page SEO goes, a H1 and other on-page tags play a role in an overall page rank. After things like the url and site title, tags are evaluated for on-page natural search results. “It may not play a tremendous factor in overall search engine results compared to, say, inbound links,” says Jason McBride of a Attorney SEO Company, “but ignoring it makes no sense.” SEO professionals should take advantage of every factor they can from an SEO perspective.

So, yes, these tags are meaningful for a few reasons. For one, it’s possible to gain some SEO advantages by properly assigning these tags to the right page elements. It’s also true that abusing them is surely a way to get a website penalized by the search engines. Also, including too many is confusing for the reader and since that’s who a site is ultimately for, it should look right. Even though there appears to be no problems with using more than one, designers may wish to keep one single most-important element reserved for H1. In addition, developers can create separate keyword rich page elements, one for H1 and one for a page title. This way a website can garner as much SEO value as possible.

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