Should H1 and Title Tags be the Same?

Identical birds

We know that the H1 and title tag of a page is a major indication to both users and search engines of what a page is about.

Your H1 should be clear and concise and reflect the content on the page in question, just as your title tag should be. But does this mean that they should be the same?

Should titles and H1s be exactly the same?

There were reports back in 2015 from Stacie Chan at Google that inconsistent H1s and title tags can confuse the Google News bot.

This got people asking whether all H1s and title tags should be exactly the same.

While it’s clear that H1s and title tags have a similar objective – to get across the content on the page in a short, easy to understand title. They are, however, displayed in different places and used for different purposes. ‘Consistency’ doesn’t mean exactly the same, just along a similar theme.

How similar should my H1 and title tag be?

If you have researched your content well and are writing something that is of interest to searchers, then naturally your H1 and title tag would be very similar. They would both reflect the topic that you’ve identified.

Both the title tag and H1 send strong signals to users and search engines like about the nature of the page, so it would be strange if you ever did have two that were very different.

Chances are, if you want to include something in your title tag for ‘SEO reasons’ then you would want to include it in the H1.

I found the page below when I searched ‘iphone or andriod’. You can see that the title tag and H1 (main heading) are very similar:

Title tag: iPhone vs. Android: Which is better? – CNNMoney
H1: iPhone vs. Andriod: Which is better?

CNN heading title tag

As we’ve said, if you research your content and optimise it for search (making sure you’re covering topics that people are searching for), then your title tag and H1 should both include the phrase you’re targeting.

Although both title tags and H1s have a similar purpose, they are displayed differently. The following differences may affect how you want your title tag or H1 to appear and are good reasons for some variation:

  • More severe length restrictions on title tags
    The limited space available in search engine results might require you to shorten your title tag compared with your H1
  • Title tag branding
    As you can see from the CNN Money example, often you will want to add some branding to the end of your title tags. It can increase credibility and help improve your click through rate in the SERPS
  • Front-loading
    Although you would want to make sure the most important information in your H1 is near the beginning, some would consider this as even more important in the title tag. Users scan search results so quickly that you might want to slightly adjust the ordering of the words in your title tag to bring the most important closer to the beginning.

Would This Count as Over-optimisation?

I’ve seen this question asked a few times. As we’ve discussed, the purpose of an H1 and title tag are very similar. They both aim to summarise the content on the page in a short, concise and clear manner. They are displayed differently, so while you might have a slightly longer H1 than title tag, I think it would be more alarming if the H1 and title tag were very different.

Inconsistency of your title tag and H1 would cast into doubt the topic of your page.

Should H1 and Title Tags be the Same?

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