H1 Tags and HTML Headers for SEO: Everything You Need to Know in Under 3 Minutes (2020)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A well-crafted H1 tag can play a huge rule in your web page’s success.

In this blog post, I’ll teach you everything you need to know about h1 tags and HTML headers as they related to search engine optimization (SEO).

By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly what header tags are, why they matter for SEO, and most importantly, how to write great header tags yourself.

Let’s get started.

What is an H1 tag?

h1 tags are the primary header tags in HTML, and most often serve as the on-page title. HTML h1 tags are by default the most prominent header tag in HTML, with each subsequent header tag (h2-h6) being smaller and less prominent. The h1 tag of this page is ‘H1 Tags and HTML Headers for SEO: Everything you Need to Know in Under 2 Minutes (2019)’. You can see this by viewing the page’s source code and searching for the h1 tag, or use the Inspect Element function on the title of this post.

screenshot of the source code of this page, with the h1 tag highlighted

While this simple h1 tag definition is enough to cover the basics, h1’s in particular are quite important for on-page SEO. In this post, I’ll run through the nuances of h1 tags for SEO and answer some common questions about them.

H1 Tags and SEO

h1 tags used to be more important for SEO, when keyword density played an outsized role in keyword rankings. However, plenty of recent studies have shown only weak correlations between keyword rankings and h1 tags.

So, does that mean h1 tags aren’t important for SEO?

Definitely not!

For one, headers still indicate to search engine robots what kind of topics are covered on a page, and h1 tags in particular specify how important a particular header is. Furthermore, h1 tags are almost always the most visible and prominent heading on a page, indicating to users what a page’s subject is. This is great for SEO because it’s great for users.

When someone visits a page, headers indicate what the page is about. It lets users know they are on a page that will properly satisfy their search intent. This means they’re less likely to bounce from your page, and these kind of engagement metrics are rumored to be somehow incorporated into Google’s algorithm.

H1 Tag Length

Many people wonder if h1 tags have an ideal length, particularly for SEO. The answer is no; h1 tags can be as long as you want. I recommend not even worrying about h1 length; just write a good heading, and wrap it in the h1 tag.

Title Tags vs H1’s

People also want to know what the difference is between title tags and h1’s. There’s no set rule for this, but if often makes sense to simply use your title tag as your h, except you obviously don’t need your brand or business name. Assuming you’re following title tag best practices, your title will be catchy and include your primary keyword anyways.

With that being said, you can mix up your title and your h1 tag if you want your title to be more focused on clickthrough rate. So long as your title and h1 both accurately describe the page’s content and follow SEO best practices, you’ll be in good shape.

H1 Tag Best Practices

Below are some of the best practices to follow when crafting h1 tags:

  • Only use one h1 tag per page. While you technically can use multiple, and Google has said it’s okay, the h1 tag is supposed to be the most important heading. Adding multiple h1’s dilutes its importance
  • Make sure each page has an h1
  • Don’t keyword stuff; only use your primary keyword in your heading
  • Make sure your h1 accurately describes the page’s content
  • You can make your h1 the same as your title tag, but you don’t have to. Title tags should typically focus a little more on clickthrough-rate than a header (since you obviously don’t need to worry about CTR when the user is already on your page!)
  • Make sure your header and title are obviously about the same topic, or people may feel mislead and bounce.
  • If you’re trying to optimized a Quick Answer/featured snippet, using the question-keyword as your h1 is a good idea

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