How many h elements and h1 tags are recommended on a single page? The manner in which h tags are used has always been a topic of debate, trials and experiments. You will find varied opinions on not only how to use h tags & how often, but also how important they are and if they really make a difference to your search engine optimisation.
What is a h tag / element?
H tag is a HTML element used to “highlight” or emphasise pieces of text, usually by displaying them in a larger font size. In lay terms, h tags are headers used to highlight, format and organise content & topics into a presentable format. They essentially act as an introduction into a topic or text, similar to how one would break up an essay into an introduction, topic 1, topic 2, findings & conclusion and so forth.
H tags start from h1 and run through to h6; these tags are added into your html document (your web page). They are usually sized in order with h1 being the largest font size, unless you change the website code. It should be noted h1 to h3 tags are used more often compared to h4, h5, h6 tags.
Misuse of h tags in SEO
The misuse of h tags has ultimately led to search engine downgrading the importance of them, these techniques included keyword stuffing and the more frowned upon technique which was the use of adding whole paragraphs and content as h tags and changing the website code to make the h tags look like normal paragraphs.
Search engines have obviously caught onto these practices and have adapted not only by penalising such misuse but also reducing the importance of h tags as a ranking factor. This raises the question of whether h tags are still important for search engines and users.
Why are h tags important to visitors who come onto your website?
When creating content on your website you want visitor’s to visually understand what they are looking at and to find the piece of information they are looking for easily and quickly, especially in a day and age where attention spans are decreasing. According to a number of studies, web masters have anywhere between 8 to 15 seconds to capture a visitor’s attention.
For pieces of content, the use of h elements can make the difference between website visitor quickly finding the information they are looking for via skimming and scrolling your website vs having to frustratingly dig through your content to reach the relevant information which will likely result in high bounce rates and exit rates.
Are h tags still important for search engines?
H tags are still important and are considered one of 200 ranking factors published by Google, we would argue that they are quite high up on the list. Although Google has downplayed the significance of h tags, we can say from our own experiments, experience and studies from reputable sources that pages with good use of h and h1 elements rank higher than those without.
Finding the right balance
When optimising your page or piece of content, it is vital to find the right balance between user experience and SEO optimisation. Many web masters while trying to optimise for search engines forget elements such as user experience, design and navigation. H tags should be used in a way which caters to both users and search engines by prioritising making content more navigable.
Why use h tags?
Because we love structure and so does Google, more structure equals more clarity, more clarity equals better engagement rates, better engagement rates mean better rankings and conversions. In essence h tags help format pages so users can easily find what they are looking for.
How many h1 elements are recommended on a single page?
Although there is no specific number, general practice and our recommendation is one h1 element on one page, usually in the form of a page title however having said that it is okay to use more than one h1 element if you need to.
Should I add my keywords into h tags?
Absolutely, this is recommended, you can also use variations, short and long tail forms of the keyword however this should be done in a way that makes sense grammatically without falling into the trap of keyword stuffing.
Should I change my h2 title tag to h1 tag?
There are studies from reputable sources which argue favourably for this. Our approach is to change all titles to h1 elements, we have seen increases in ranking performance for websites we have implemented this on.
h tag tip
Look into your Google Search Console and search queries that have a good combination relevance and search volume but fall short in rankings. You can incorporate these search queries into your pages and content by using them in your h elements and experimenting to see whether you see positive changes in your rankings.
Our final verdict on h tags
Although importance of h tags, specifically h1 elements have decreased, we can say with confidence that h tags are still important and will help you rank better, so use them with confidence.
Search Engine Optimisation is not limited to h tags, there are 200 factors which can be divided into on-page, off-page and technical SEO which will help your website rank better. We offer consulting and SEO training courses for all levels of students, to find out more get in touch with us today.
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