What is a H1 tag ?

The HTML H1 tag is an important element for communicating to search engines what a page is about. Use of the Heading 1 tag dates back to the primeval days of the internet when the H1 tag was used to indicate a page’s principal subject through the application of special HTML formatting. Sub-headings H2 may provide more details on a secondary subject such as a section within the page, and so down though a hierarchy of headings H3,h4,h5 etc.

In that simplistic era, the page heading was a exactly what the page was about. Even with sophisticated formatting and layouts in the modern website, search engine spiders still recognise the H1 tag as an important indicator of the page’s over-all content.

So how do you use H1 for SEO ?

As search engines see H1 as an important indicator of the page’s topic, using target terms in H1 reinforces to the search engine that the page, indeed the site, is about the target term, and so is more likely to be featured in searches that also relate to the topic/keyword.

Is there H1 code in my site?

Click to view the source code in a page (this is dependant on your browser but try right mouse clicking on the page) then search for ‘H1’  The H1 will be surrounded in HTML open and close syntax eg <H1> to open and </H1> to close.  H2 will be similarly opened <H2> and </H2> closed. Capitalisation of the ‘h’ doesnt matter

h1 in code

Here’s how H1 looks in this pages code

h2 in code

Here’s how H2 looks in this pages code

Applying H1

Many new websites do not use the H1 tag, so retrofitting them into an existing site can be high SEO value, and involves using Cascading Style Sheets to re-define the default H1 style to to suit the layout. Avoid the temptation to add multiple or long H1 elements in a page. It is far more effective when kept concise and highly relevant to the target term. Synonyms and headings formatted as a question also provide greater engagement with the semantic characteristics that Google’s Hummingbird release  was designed to seek.

Maximise exposure for your target topics by using variants of the H1 headings and H2 sub headings across your site.

What else can I do ?

Ensure your site’s Title meta tag also contains target topic related terms or synonyms and of course that your posts & pages contain lots of great original content about your target topics


Posted in: SEO Principals