For SEO, Use the H1 Tag for Your First Heading

By Steve Hoenisch

Summarize Your Page's Content with the Top-Level HTML Heading Tag

Beginning your web page with a heading that summarizes your content and setting the heading in the HTML H1 tag can help foster search engine optimization, or SEO. The top of every web page that you want to optimize for SEO should, in my opinion, start with a pithy H1 heading that accurately summarizes the page's content. Using an H1 tag -- the top-level heading in HTML -- for the first headline helps reveal your web page's structure to search engines and helps improve your natural search results.

The H1 heading comes shortly after the opening body tag, like this:

<html>
...
<body>
<h1>Begin Each Page with an H1 Header</h1>
...

Think of the first heading as a headline above a story in a newspaper. The type of the first headline is typically larger and bolder than the story's other headings -- subheads. The top-level heading typically summarizes the information provided in the story. The subheads, in turn, provide increasingly specific information that expands on the top-level heading.

The newspaper story is competing with other stories on the page for your attention. A pithy, accurate headline draws your attention to the story. The same competition takes place when a search engine displays a title of a page in a list of titles for similar pages. Pages with compelling, accurate, and unique titles tend to draw the attention of surfers, just as news stories with compelling headlines draw the attention of readers.

Do not use the same H1 heading for every page in your web site: It is, I believe, a critical error that will undermine your SEO efforts. Instead, write a unique, accurate heading that summarizes your page and explicitly inform search engines that it is the top-level heading of the page by setting it in an H1 tag.

Typically, the text in your H1 tag should match or closely resemble the text that is set in your page's title tag, which appears in the header of your HTML, so that the code looks something like this:

<html>
 <head>
 <title>Begin Each Page with an H1 Header</title>
 ...
</head>
<body>
 <h1>Begin Each Page with an H1 Header</h1>
...

In addition, using the other HTML heading tags -- H2 through H6 -- to explicitly delineate the hierarchical structure of your web page's information can also help foster search engine optimization. Setting your second-level headings in an H2 tag, for example, can make the hierarchical relationship of the information explicit not only to readers but also to search engines. In turn, the information in a nested section with an H3 heading builds on or expands on the information contained under an H2 heading.

Using HTML heading tags to reveal the structure of your information can help improve your web page's ranking in search engines such as Google.

--Steve Hoenisch

Related

Document Icon Include a Unique, Accurate Title in Your HTML Document's Header

Document Icon Use the HTML Heading Tags (H1-H6) To Structure Your Content

Document Icon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques


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