H1 Tag: How To Create a Great Header
Headings are an important aspect of content that affects how users and search engines perceive it. Therefore, quality and relevant headlines are important for both SEO and user convenience. It is worth knowing what the value of the h1 tag is and how to properly form and apply this header.
What Does H1 Mean?
H1 is an HTML tag that identifies the first heading on a page. It is used as the name of the page or publication. H1 tag example: <h1> The name of your page or post </h1>.
Visually on the site page, this title almost always looks different than the main text of the content and other headings and subheadings. Using the example of an article from our blog, you can see what are h1 tags in practice:
H1 code placement:
The H1 tag takes the first place in the hierarchy of headings, which can be tagged from H1 to H6 depending on the degree of importance in the content. These tags help to structure the content, making it convenient for scanning by search robots and for human perception.
What is the difference between H1 and title tag?
Since the H1 tag is the main one on the page, the question is, what is the difference between the H1 and title tag? Despite the fact that their content can be very close, these tags differ functionally:
- The title tag is displayed on the SERP issuance page. This is the text for search engines that the user sees as the name of the hyperlink to the page.
- H1 tag marks the heading that the user sees already on the site as the name of the page, publication, etc.
SEO H1: What Is the Role of the Header?
Usually, the H1 tag is applied only once for each page, while other tags can be repeated multiple times within the same publication. At the same time, Google spokesman John Mueller said in this video that the search engine uses the headings in order to better understand the content.
According to him, the amount of H1 tag headers are used on the page does not play a special role. More important is the relevance of the h1 header tag to the content. At the same time, the presence of several tags in one publication will not confuse the crawlers.
This caused a mixed reaction among SEO professionals, as it contradicts the traditional practice of using only one H1 tag. In particular, John Grohol, the founder of Psych Central, reacted very expressively on Twitter:
In turn, the SEO specialist Cyrus Shepard conducted an experiment, alternately using the H1 and H2 tags for the main headings. He finally came to the conclusion that the choice of a tag does not affect traffic and ranking.
Heading tags SEO
Heading tags SEO still matter because they allow you to structure content and make them understandable to search engines and users. People are more pleased to read ordered texts and deal with logical navigation through content and Google bots. It will also better understand what is at stake.
John Mueller emphasized that H-tags are mainly good as structural elements for separating, shaping, and highlighting content and its most important parts:
In turn, Joost de Valk, the founder of Yoast, emphasized that using only one H1 heading per page is important not only for SEO but for more readable content:
In his article for Search Engine Land, George Nguyen emphasized the importance of using headers to adapt web pages for users with disabilities.
He also refers to the publication of The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which describes methods for organizing semantic code for generating headers. The material indicates that the headers can help screen reader programs with navigation, so they can highlight specific content using an audio signal:
While speaking about the importance of website adaptation for people with disabilities, it is worth mentioning the judicial precedent that occurred in October 2019.
Then U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Domino’s Pizza’s appeal and upheld the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision of January 15, 2019. It obliged the company to make its website and mobile app fully accessible to blind people.
The background took three years and began with the fact that the blind user Guillermo Robles was unable to order pizza through the iPhone app and sued Domino’s Pizza. First, he lost this case, but after appealing, he received a decision in his favor.
Domino’s, in turn, appealed to the Supreme Court to refute this ruling, with the support of the Chamber of Commerce of the USA and the National Federation of Independent Business.
In their statement, business representatives emphasized that “the explosion of website accessibility litigation under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was already imposing huge, unjustified costs on American businesses and nonprofits”:
In 2019, lawsuits in the field of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) online accessibility also influenced many representatives from various industries:
The arguments of business representatives that it is impossible to equally adapt websites and applications for blind people, deaf people, and people with other disabilities. This did not hold up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This precedent underlines the growing importance of the high-quality adaptation of sites to the needs of people with disabilities. In this case, site structuring, markup, and navigation using the H1-H6 header hierarchy will play an important role. Using only one H1 header for each page of the site seems to be a reasonable and justified solution.
In any case, the h1 heading is the most visible element of content that is not aimed at SEO but at the user’s interest and user experience. Since both Google and SEO specialists over the past few years have emphasized the quality of content and its usefulness to the user as the main priorities, creating a thoughtful and relevant H1 will make your content better and more attractive.
How to create the best h1 header tag
- Use one H1 tag on the page. This will emphasize the title against the rest of the content, make it the first that the user will pay attention to. For important, but not key headings, use the H2 tag, and follow the hierarchy. The most common options are texts with tags H1 – H3. The use of one H1 for a page will additionally help to emphasize the main key and avoid a possible search scan error when identifying content and highlighting priority headers. This can sometimes be the case when using multiple H1 tags on one page.
- H1 should describe the subject and essence of the page or publication. Since this tag is used for the main title, it should be relevant and reflect the essence of the content as accurately as possible. Firstly, it is important for search engines to perceive it. Secondly, the user must understand what information they will receive and how useful and interesting it will be.
- The H1 tag should express the same idea as the title tag. These tags should not be the same but should express the same thought and idea. More information on the topic can be found in the How to Create Search Engine Friendly Title Tags article. In some cases, the H1 title may be longer and wider than the title tag, which is visible on the search results page. It also focuses more on user experience and user-friendly.
- Use keywords. This is one of the most common SEO practices. For H1 headings, you should use the same keywords as for the title tag. In some cases, you can use more keywords but it is important to prevent them from being oversaturated. For the main headings, select the primary key that you will find in the keyword research process. It is also good practice to use long-tail keywords for the H1 headings, which you can read about in the Long Tail Keywords article.
- Avoid overly long headlines. SEO experts recommend using headlines of 30-60 characters since phrases that are too long do not hold attention s well. At the same time, a short thesis may not always fully reveal the essence of the content, so it is important to find a balance.
- Focus on the interests of the user. When you create the H1 header, analyze the user’s purpose when looking for content. Your task is to interest them, keep them on the site longer, and familiarize them with the content. For example, you have a website with recipes or DIY content. In this case, the headline should use a phrase that will convince the user that your content will be interesting to them and has what they were looking for.
In this heading on the site about gifts made by hand, it says that they are talking about inexpensive presents:
The Spruce Crafts
A person who is going to give a homemade souvenir might not plan to spend a lot of money on it. Therefore, the mention of the word inexpensive can be an interesting and attractive detail.
- Pay attention to the visual design of the H1 header. The main title should stand out from the rest of the content. Pay attention not only to the content but also to the appearance of the H1. Choose the size and style of the font and see how it matches the style of your site and page design. Visually appealing content makes you want to stay on the page longer, and it creates a positive user experience.
- Emphasize the unique qualities of the content. Continuing the topic of usability and user experience, it is worth mentioning that to create a bright and attractive title, highlight the features of your content that can attract the user. It can be special information or a useful guide. Emphasize the value of your content in the headline. For example, in the title, best tips for resume 2020, the tag is tied to both the practical usefulness and relevance of the guide this year.
H1 Tag Audit
To make sure that the site contains all the necessary h1 headings, you can conduct an audit and check the following points:
- H1 heading should not be repeated, and each heading should be unique.
- All H1 tags are located at the top of the page.
- H1 tag stands out against all content and is written in large and relevant font style.
- H1 tag is relevant to the content of the page and expresses its essence.
- The title is interesting and able to attract the attention of the user.
- Contains direct keywords or long-tail keywords.
For an audit, you can use the Screaming Frog service. You can choose the free or paid version. For various SEO services and tools, see Top SEO Tools for Businesses in 2020.
After the program scans the site, you should select the H1 section in the menu and check if there are duplicate headings. You should also look for pages that do not have a heading. To do this, you need to look at the Missing subsection:
In this case, the tag is missing on five pages. They all need to be checked to make sure that these are not technical pages. Pages without H1 tags can be specifically excluded from indexing, or they can be pages which content does not play a role in website promotion. In most cases, the H1 tag should be present on all pages of the site.
In this example, the first link from the list leads to the cocktail recipes page:
Three more links also lead to pages with recipes and podcasts, and the last link refers to the main page of the site:
For these five pages, it’s worth adding the H1 tags because they already have main headings. Each of the pages, not just the main one, are important. At the same time, the content of each page contains thematic subsections and subheadings with individual recipes, so they should be structured.
Summing up, we can say that the H1 heading is the most visible element of content that is not intended for the search engine but for the user. Therefore, when compiling this headline, you should think about the interests of the audience. It’s important to understand and consider what is most valuable to the user in your content. With the thought, the heading will hit the target, keep the visitor on the page, and help convey your messages.