Are H1 Tags Important for SEO? Best Practice Tips

writing onlineWhat is an H1?

H1 stands for Heading Size 1 in HTML. This means that it should be the largest heading size on the page. The largest heading on your page should be the main heading or title of your page.

The H1 for this page is:

‘Are H1 Tags Important for SEO? Best Practice Tips’

You can find the H1 of a page in the source by right clicking on a page and selecting ‘View page source’ (or Ctrl+U). In HTML, the H1 will look like this:
Example of H1 tag

Are H1 Tags Important for SEO?

Search engines expect your H1 to be your main title and use this as a large factor in understanding the content on your page and how it is relevant to someone’s search. Naturally, you would expect the title of a piece of content to be reflective of the content.

H1 Best Practices for Users and SEO

H1 Implementation

There are a few best practice tips for the implementation of your H1 tags:

  • Make sure your heading is in H1 tags
  • There should only be one H1 on any given page
  • Place the H1 in the Body of a page (between the Body tags)
  • The H1 should appear before any other nested heading (H2, H3 etc.)

If your H1 tag is implemented correctly, next you need to worry about how to use it to help your visitors understand your content and for search engines too.

H1 Phrasing

Just as you should for your title tag, for more on title tags see how to write a title tag, phrasing your titles and covering topics that are likely to be searched for is the best way to improve your visibility in search engines.

The following are some best practice tips to make sure your H1s hit the nail on the head:

  • Make sure you can understand what your page is about from the title alone
    It is common to only see the title of a page when it is shared on social media, in an email or when linked to from another website. A reader should be able to know exactly what your page is about before they’ve clicked on the link.
  • Avoid ambiguous or cute headings that might cause confusion
  • Avoid puns (they are likely to negatively affect the clarity of your title)
  • Make sure your headings make grammatical sense
  • Do not write your H1s for Google bots – write them for your readers
  • Use phrasing that is likely to reflect popular searched phrases
  • Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to research popular searches in the UK
  • Don’t make your headings too long (longer than 12 words is really pushing it)

It might sound boring but headings online need to be as clear as possible. Headings are much more likely to be taken out of their content online than they are offline. A title of a magazine article, for example, an afford to be a bit more fun or ambiguous. Online, however, an ambiguous title is unlikely to perform well with users and leaves search engines in the dark about the topic you are discussing on the page.

Other Headings on a Page

The rest of the headings on your page will be H2, H3, H4 etc. Each number should be used hierarchically. As discussed above, there should be only one H1 on your page, but you can have multiples of the other headings. These headings should be used in order and none should be missed out.

Just as search engines use you title tag and H1, they use your other headings to understand more about your content too. This makes it important that you continue to stay on topic and use words related to your key phrases where it is natural to.

Are H1 Tags Important for SEO? Best Practice Tips

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