A webpage layout is defined by using Headers. Terms of importance on a webpage are usually the biggest and more prominent. The H1 tag stands for Header1 which, in HTML, is used in conjunction with the other header tags, H2 through H6, to determine site layout. The lower the number, the less importance to the page these tags indicate. And, of course, it breaks the page into logical portions for a human reader. Think of a magazine article. The article title is likely the most important element and is defined as H1. Then, perhaps, there is a subtitle which gets assigned a H2 tag and so on until the article body itself begins and is usually given a ‘p’ or ‘paragraph’ tag. The search engines also want to see a page with some logical breakdown of content.
So, can I use more than one H1 tag on a page? There is some controversy around this point. Many will argue multiple tags can occur, per page. Others will always suggest only one on a page at a time. They do seem to agree that abusing these tags on a page is always a bad idea. The search engines have shown that they will penalize pages and, in some cases, harshly, for doing so. For example, take a look at WordPress as a platform. They have a reputation for SEO. The default theme, Twenty Eleven, makes two H1 tags on a page by default. If that’s the default, it seems like it can’t possibly be a problem to put two. Bing, however, always suggests only one H1 tag 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 NJ Internet Marketing Company, “but ignoring it makes no sense.” SEO professionals should take advantage of every factor they can from an SEO perspective.
It’s a fact that H1 tags are important to the search engines. Perhaps of equal importance is that they make pages accessible and easy to read. They break a webpage into logical sections that attract the eye using H1 to H6 tags. It’s also known that Google and Bing both frown upon abusing H1 tags on a page. And, while there appears to be no penalty for using two, it’s typically recommended to use only one. Using the most important element to a page or post in your H1 tag is a great way to focus the reader and the engines to a page’s purpose. These can also be kept unique from the page title since this is also evaluated by Google (and the reader). This way, when Google and Bing evaluate a page, developers can create unique keyword phrases in both places and take advantage of as much on-page SEO as possible.
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I hope that you enjoyed reading this article.
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Reginald Liggins is an internet marketing trainer and coach who resides outside of Portland in Beaverton, Oregon.
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