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How to SEO your h1 and headings tags

Meta tags are part of your website code and although their content is rarely seen by users many of them are vitally important to search engines. Will cover the key ones here.

The h1 tag

When a visitor arrives on a page there should be one obvious bit of text that they immediately know is the title of the content. For this page it is How to SEO your h1 and headings tags.

But search engines, especially on their first visit, don't see much of the formating (such as which bit of text is bigger than the other), they just see code and text. The h1 tag, invisible to human visitors, is what tells them the title

In the code of this page the title looks like this:

<h1>How to SEO your h1 and headings tags</h1>

Note the opening tag ( <h1> ) and the closing tag ( </h1> ). To check if your website is using the h1 tag in the right place:

  1. Copy your title text.
  2. Find a blank space on the page and right hand click.
  3. From the small popup menu that appears left hand click on 'View Page Source'.
  4. Eeeeek!? Don't be phased. Hold down Ctrl and F at the same time and look for a small search box that will appear in the bottom left or top right
  5. Type in '<h1'.

If you find nothing your missing a major tag that helps search engines understand your page's contents. If you get more than one you are sending multiple messages and although Google claims it can handle this why make things harder for the search engine?

Note if you do find your h1 tag you might see something like <h1 class="something"> or lots of other gubbins going on in the tag itself. Don't worry about this, it is still fully understandable to search engines.

The trifecto - h1, title tag and url

If you've been working through this guide step by step you'll already have looked at your url and your page title tag. If you haven't because you just crashed in here after doing a search you might need to back up a little to see these three elements working together. Here's what it looks like for this page:

  • The page url:
  • The title tag: How to SEO your h1 and headings tags
  • The h1 tag: How to SEO your h1 and headings tags

Are you getting the picture? All very similar or the same. All reinforcing the message of the other that this page is about h1 and heading tags and I use the keywords in the first line of text in the main body just to drive it all home.

The other headings tags

If you have a fair amount of contents on your page it just helps to add subheadings. Makes it easier to read. I just added one on the previous line, The other headings tags.

h1 is the top heading in the heirarchy, it is the title of the page so it should only exist once. But h2 to h6 also exist.

On this page I decided that The other headings tags is a sub heading of the main content so I've wrapped it in h2 tags. If I wanted a subheading here within the context of 'other headings tags' I would do so using h3 tags, and so on.

The biggest mistake webmaster make is to get their headings mixed up, creating the potential for search engines to get mixed up in understanding the content. h4 headings coming before h2 headings, using h3 headings but missing h2 headings, and so on. Makes it a real mess for a search engine.

The text editors on many platforms like WordPress are partly to blame for this. You mark a piece of text as 'Heading 2' but it doesn't look good, making it 'heading 3' works better from a visual point of view so that's what you do. There's no warning that you are doing any damage ... but you are.

If you use such platforms go back through your texts and make sure you are using all your subheadings in the right place and in the right order. If you want to change how they look on your live site use the CSS file (which you can edit in Wordpress via the admin area).

Tim Hill SEO

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.

If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.

If you need help simply get in touch.

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