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Importance H1 SEO
by Dr. William Sen | Founder of blue media

Importance of the H1 in SEO

What is H1 and how does it impact your page?

When you see a large header on the top of a page, you assume that this is the title of the page, either it’s an article or something else like “About Us” or simply “Services”. The best example I can give you is this article you’re reading right now – it has a heading and it’s called “Importance of the H1 in SEO”.

You as a human being you might ask yourself “isn’t that obvious what the heading is—it’s right there!”. But the main question is, would Google know? We all know that Google is extremely smart when reading and interpreting content—so you would assume that Google would exactly understand it, because the title is usually bigger and it’s on the top of the web page, right?

Unfortunately, that assumption is wrong.

It’s not about Google being smart or not. Google simply doesn’t want to bother with your page much, if you can make Google’s life easier. That’s why Google’s Guideline are here for, and if you don’t follow them, Google is reluctant to rank you well. The conclusio is: play by Google’s book or get lost (in the SERP).

The Title Tag

As web design is not an analogue medium like a newspaper and a book, it doesn’t follow simple rules such as “if it’s on the top, it’s a title” or “if it’s big, it must be important”. Web designers use a huge variety of design elements, thus not following certain rules. Creating a website is a creative process and as we all know, art is not bond to default rules. But Google is, bummer!

And that’s why also Google doesn’t want to interpret automatically which sentence of your content is the heading. Long story short—if you don’t tell Google exactly what the heading of the page is, it actually won’t care—and eventually your page will most likely not be shown on top of the search results. Why should it— you’re paying attention to Google’s guidelines.

Google is a machine, and SEOs have to make sure that everything on a page is machine readable. For that reason, Google has been releasing an enormous amount of SEO guidelines—so SEOs can create pages that can be understood by Google.

H1 is one of those things. If you have a heading for your content, you also to tell Google by classifying it as H1 in the HTML code on your web page.

It sounds easy, but often web designers don’t pay attention to such detail as their not SEO savvy. Basically, your page may look great from a user’s perspective, but Google might just not understand it if you miss to use the H1 correctly.

How to Use the H1 Tag

Every page has to have one H1—and only one! If you use more than one H1s, then Google will take the one it likes the most or not take your page serious, And think of it—why should you be taken seriously by Google, when they are millions of other web sites following Google guidelines correctly, and have similar content?

How to not Use the H1 Tag

Multiple H1s on will spoil the broth. It’s clear that H1 should be used only once on a page. But many websites don’t necessarily pay attention to this. That happens quite too often: for example, pages that have a long article and use H1s for every chapter—or sometimes people have page with many different sections and all section headers have H1s in them—then you’re doing it wrong. As H1 is the most important HTML-Tag for defining the topic of a page, you should utilize it only once.

H1 vs H2

For all other chapters, sections or whatsoever, just use H2s or H3s. H2 can be used multiple times and won’t confuse Google.

In this article, when you look into the source code, H1s have been used only 1 time:

H2 has been used 1 time:

H3s have been used 4 times:

Some SEOs tend to use H4s for chapters and other sections underneath the H3, which is also ok. That only signalizes Google that the H4s are less important  than the H3s, and so forth.
About the Author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. William Sen Founder of blue media

William Sen has been an SEO since 2001 and is a Software Engineer since 1996, and has been working as an Associate Professor in Germany for the University of Dusseldorf and Cologne. He has been involved in developing custom SEO tools, large website and software projects. William has a PhD in Information Sciences and has been working for brands such as Expedia, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Bayer, Ford, T-Mobile and many more. He is the founder of blue media.

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