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H1 Tag Best Practices in SEO and Website Design

Heading tags also known as HTML header tags, head tags, header tags and SEO header tags are used to differentiate the heading of a web page from the rest of its content. The header tags go from H1 to H6, with H1 being at the top of the hierarchy. If you are going to use heading tags within your content (and it’s recommended that you do) it is important to make sure you use them in order, as if you skip any of the tag numbers the SEO structure will be broken.

As we mentioned above, H1 is at the top of the hierarchy and is therefore the most important header tag for on-page SEO. It is this header tag that we are going to take a closer look at; sharing some of the best practices in using it for SEO and website design.

h1 hello world

Using H1 tags can improve your website’s SEO and make it more user-friendly.

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What is the H1 tag and why is it important?

The H1 tag (or <h1></h1> in HTML) is used to emphasise the title or ‘heading’ of a web page.  For a long while it has been considered an influential ranking factor and a way of telling search engines what a web page is about. Today the H1 tag is still thought to be a ranking factor that Google and other search engines use, however it may not be as significant as other ranking factors. Whilst its direct influence on search engine rankings is debatable (it all depends on who you ask) its indirect influences cannot be ignored.

It is generally deemed that a H1 tag containing a keyword will help a website to rank in searches for that keyword, making it important for businesses to feature keywords relevant to their content. However, it could also be argued that the H1 tag has an influence on other rankings factors such as user experience.

H1 tags are significant to a websites’ user experience, as it is often this title or heading that users first notice upon landing on a page. If the H1 tag features relevant keywords to their search, it will assure them that they are in the right place and will be able to find the information they are looking for. The longer they remain on a webpage, the better user experience it will be offering, which is something that Google will consider when ranking it on SERPs. If there isn’t a H1 tag or it doesn’t provide assurance to the user, they are likely to click off the website, resulting in a higher bounce rate, which can have a negative impact on a website’s search rankings.

This clearly illustrates that the H1 tag is not only a direct ranking factor (by optimising keywords) but also an indirect ranking factor through improving user experience.

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Use H1 tags correctly and they’ll help to improve your website’s SEO, which could in turn lead to higher search rankings on SERPs.

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How to use the H1 tag effectively

Now you understand what H1 tags are and why they are important to your website’s SEO (both directly and indirectly) it is essential that you know how to use them effectively. Follow our H1 tag best practice tips for SEO and website design below.

Do not stuff your H1 tags with keywords

It is the general consensus that featuring keywords within your H1 tags can help to improve your search rankings, even if it not as powerful ranking factor today as it was in the past. However, this does not mean that you should stuff your heading tags with keywords, as this can make them look ‘spammy’ to both search engines and users.

Only use one H1 tag per page

A H1 header tag can be created by inserting text between the <H1></H1> tag of your website’s HTML. Although there is no limit to how many H1 tags you can create, it is recommended that you only use one per page. Using any more than one H1 heading will confuse search engines about the topic of your page and could look like you are just trying to make the page rank for more keywords.

Avoid hiding H1 tags

Search engines do not like it when you use hidden text to manipulate your website’s SEO and attempt to improve its search rankings. It is recommended that you avoid hiding H1 tags as this could result in your website being penalised.

Make your H1 tags unique

It is best practice to ensure that every web page has its own unique H1 header tag. The header tag should include a keyword relevant to the content of the web page or article and should inform both search engines and users what it is about.

online media direct h1 tag

It is a good idea to create H1 tags that feature questions users might be asking search engines, like we have in the example above.

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Create H1 tags for Google Hummingbird

Although we have mentioned the importance of using keywords within your H1 tag, it is also important to consider the Google Hummingbird algorithm’s ability to look past keywords in a search query and focus on the root of a user’s intent. This means that rather than just writing your H1 tags to feature a keyword, you may want to use them to target users’ entire search queries. For example, it is good practice to use your H1 tag as a question (what users would type into a search engine) and then provide the answer within the rest of your content.
Providing that your content is well written, informative and answers related search queries effectively, you will stand a good chance of increasing your search rankings.

For an idea of what users are searching for when they land on your website, it is highly recommended that you view your website’s Google Analytics page. Some of the long tail searches users’ have input may give you inspiration for future H1 tags for your web pages.

Conclusion

Although Google and other search engines have a long list of criteria that they use to rank websites, H1 tags are still generally deemed to be a significant ranking factor. Not only can they be used to optimise keywords in an attempt to improve rankings, but they can also be used to reassure users and contribute to your website’s user experience, which can also indirectly lead to improved rankings.
Whether you are new to SEO or are simply looking for ways to ethically improve your website’s rankings, we highly recommend following the H1 tag best practice tips outlined above. If you have any questions about H1 tags or would like to work with one of our experienced SEO experts, you can get in touch by calling us on 01706 830 965.

Image credits: Blue Square Thing, infocux Technologies and mj0310

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