H1 Tag Best Practices in SEO – A Brief Guide

On July 27, 2022

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Most people don’t understand that title tags and H1 tag best practices play a significant role in the optimization of a page on a website. Now, when we refer to header or title tags – sometimes they are called both, we refer to the headlines of a website.

Coming to the question of how to use H1 tags for SEO, you should know that the H1 tag is typically used for the page title, and it is the first heading visible on a page. 

When viewed in HTML code, its value is enclosed in H1 tags. The H1 tag is ideally formatted differently than the rest of the page content to make its text stand out.


H1 Tag vs. Page Title – An Overview

One of the easiest ways to understand the use of the H1 tag is to suppose that you are writing an outline of a huge essay – the main title of your essay will be your H1, your main points the H2, and the sub-points the H3 and so on.

It is important to mention that the H1 SEO tag should not be confused with the title tag as these are two different page elements. The title tag is shown on the search engine result page (SERPs), whereas the H1 tag is not.

Also, the title tag is not visually shown on a page but remains a vital part of the page header. And it is also displayed in the browser title. On the other hand, the H1 tag is shown to users while browsing a web page.

Typically, the page title and H1 tag share the same value because CMS (Content Management System), such as WordPress, are configured this way. There is nothing to worry about – while you can change them, they should be identical, according to Google.


H1 Tag Optimization & H1 Tag Best Practices– An Overview


You can do certain things regarding the style and placement of the H1 tag for its optimization. For instance, you might want to ensure that your H1 tag is visible to your website users. Many website themes have the H1 tag in the HTML of the page, but it is hidden from the users.

And this is not a good SEO practice, especially in terms of content optimization. Check your website theme and ensure that it outputs the H1 tag correctly and is displayed on the page. One of the easiest ways to do this is to assess the HTML source of the webpage and search for H1.

What you see enclosed in H1 tags should also be visible on the webpage.

Another potential rule to optimize your H1 tag is to have it styled differently than the rest of the content. For instance, you might want to use bigger letters than the rest of the text and heading. Another method for H1 tag optimization would be to use headings hierarchically.

As mentioned before, you should ideally approach your website headings the same way as writing an outline for a huge document. The thing that is important for SEO is to have your tags in an accurate order to make the job of crawlers easier.

Besides, the best-optimized SEO practices and H1 tag best practices indicate that there should be only one H1 tag per page as it would make more sense. 


Top 6 SEO H1 Tags Best Practices

1- Include Your Main Keyword in the H1 Tag

The first thing that you want to do is to always include your keywords for the page in that H1 tag.

You will want to have the main keyword that you are targeting for the page in that H1 tag at a bare minimum. Of course, you can add secondary keywords – if it makes sense. But you will always want the main keyword in that particular field.

Also, ensure that the main keyword is at the beginning of that H1 tag because the closer it is to the beginning, the more SEO ranking power it will induce. Just make sure that you are covering all those keywords that are related to the H1 tag without just duplicating them over and over again.



2- Meet the User Intent

The second tip is that you will want to meet your user intent with the H1. We cannot stress enough the H1 tag SEO importance of this one aspect – if there is a mismatch between your Meta titles, which also happens to be the title tag in H1 – it can cause people to bounce from your page.

To understand this better, you might want to think of it the following way – suppose you go on Google and type the following phrase “how many keywords to use per page”. Subsequently, you proceed to click on the very first result you see where the title tag says “how many keywords per page – a brief guide”.

You will click on that without a moment’s delay, thinking that this is exactly what you are looking for. But after clicking on the result, the very first thing that you will see is the H1 tag, and the H1 tag doesn’t meet your expectations as it says “ how many keywords to track per page”.

This doesn’t meet your search intent as it is about tracking keywords instead of how many keywords you should use per page. Now, suppose you get back to the search results and click on another result which takes you to the following H1 tag – how many keywords to focus on per page”.

This H1 tag is exactly what you are trying to find, and hence it matches your search intent.

This example illustrates the importance of meeting the user intent in your H1 tag because if there is a disconnection between the H1 tag attributes and the Meta title or title tag, then you can lose your potential visitors, and understandably, this is something that you will want to avoid at all costs.


That said, if you are writing your H1 tags, in order to meet the user intent, you might want to ask yourself two questions:


  1. What is the user looking for when they click on my article?
  2. What is the intent of the user?

Once you start thinking from the perspective of these two questions, you will also think about how to write H1 tags for SEO, and you will find it easier to write your H1 tag. All you need to do is to make sure that the person is getting what they think they are getting when they click on the SERP.


3- Only Use One H1 Tag per Page

When it comes to the H1 tag best practices in SEO, you might want to use only one H1 tag per page. You can technically have as many H1 tags on a page as you want, but when it comes to the best SEO practices regarding the H1 tags, you certainly want to avoid doing this.

You will only want one H1 tag per page, and you want it to be the first element after your navigation menu above the content, and you only want to stick to one H1 tag per page.

The underlying reason for this practice is that if you have multiple H1 tags on the page, then this will definitely weaken and dilute the SEO ranking power for that H1. When Google comes across the page and crawls it, and it sees ten H1 tags with all the different keywords in there – it will certainly confuse the algorithm regarding what the main topic is for the page.

In other words, you ought to understand that the H1 tag is supposed to serve as the main topic, which is also the primary reason the H1 tag is deemed so powerful in SEO practices.

You can place your keyword in the H1 tag, and if you eliminate all the other H1 tags and just have the one H1 tag with the main keyword, then you are sending a very clear signal to Google that this is what the page is about and this is the keyword that the page should be ranked for.

That said, keep it simple and only use one H1 tag per page – don’t overdo it, as there is no logical reason to get fancy in this area of your page.


4- Use Between 20 to 70 Characters

Another tip to follow for the H1 tag best practices is that you should ideally keep about 20 to 70 characters. Now, this is just basic information that people in the SEO industry know. Without going into the details, you should follow a simple rule of thumb – if you go for 20 to 70 characters, you are going to be safe for your H1 tag.

Simply put, you don’t want your H1 tag to be just one word, but you also don’t want it to be two lines or thirty words. You want to keep it at an ideal length, about 20 to 70 characters, so it comes off as natural and in the perfect way that it is neither too short nor too long.

Really, you can tag anything on the pages in H1 – you can also make an entire sentence in H1 (if you want to), but that is just not one of the H1 tag best practices in SEO. So, just keep it simple, make it natural, which is about 20 to 70 characters.



5- Make Sure the H1 Tag Stands Out

Another tip to follow for the best H1 tag practice is to make the H1 tag stand out. While the first couple of tips were all about how you can improve the SEO ranking power for the Google algorithm so your website can get ranked higher in SERP, this tip is all about how the H1 tag should appear to the viewers.

All you need to do is to ensure that the H1 tag stands out, and the simplest thing you can do in this regard is to ensure that it has a big, bold font and is something easily noticeable on the page. What you don’t want to do is to make an H1 tag that is hidden.

Also, you don’t want to place the H1 tag at the bottom of the webpage or in the middle of the page. Keep it simple and follow the best practices while making the H1 tag the biggest font on the page – up at the top of the content.

Subsequently, the H2 tags should be a little smaller font; the H3 tags should be a little smaller, and so on. In case you are wondering why this is so important is because this way, the user will be able to see that H1 is the biggest and most important of this topic.

The user will also see that H2s are subsections as they are a little bit smaller, and the following h3s are a little bit smaller, and so forth. Again, as mentioned before, while working on your H1 tags and H2s and H3s, you want to keep SEO in mind and rather not get fancy with this so as to not confuse Google algorithm – and, of course, the viewers.

You don’t need to put the H1 and H2 tags in different places, and you definitely want to avoid styling them weird – just make the H1 tag big, bold, and noticeable for the users so that when they click on your page – they see that your page is matching the user intent with the rest of the content so that they actually end up reading the rest of the page.



6- Using the H2 Tags

From an SEO viewpoint, use the H2 tag to optimize towards further keywords you want to target. Once you have completed your keyword research, again, looking at your other terms, you might want to reuse the primary keyword in your H2 tags.

You can also expand your reach of keywords across all the ones you previously researched and try ranking for those by utilizing them in your h2 tags as well. So, using your H2 tags strategically is one of the ways you can try ranking for multiple terms across a number of subjects.

Nonetheless, it is also a good way to give your content proper hierarchy on the webpage so that when Google looks at your webpage, it can really understand and get to know what kind of content the webpage is talking about; resultantly, it means that it can find the subject you are discussing on your page in terms of that keyword within your headlines as well.

So, now you might better understand how headings (H1, H2, and H3) are used in SEO and how you can optimize your heading tags within the webpage content. As a quick reminder, you might want to use the H1 tag once and use all other tags below H1 in the hierarchy as many times as you like.

Also, ensure you do your keyword research and know which keywords you would like to target. Once you know that, you can use your headlines and place your keywords into the headlines in a strategic way to ensure you rank better on searches.


A Few Other Aspects of H1 Tag in SEO

Many people wonder whether the H1 tag can be the same as the title tag as they think that they have the Meta title that they use to entice people to click on their webpage in the SERPs, and they think about whether the H1 tag should be the exact same thing as the Meta title or can they be different.

If you are wondering about the same thing, you should know that according to Google’s recommendations, web page owners are encouraged to match their page’s Meta title or title tag and the H1 tag. It is important to mention that if you change the order a bit, it won’t be a problem.

Also, having a few extra words here and there is not a problem. So, the best practice here is to make your H1 tag and the Meta title the same – but you don’t have to; there are no obligations. 




There is just one further thing to know about H1 tag best practices – make sure that you don’t write headlines that are terrible to read just because you want to stuff them with keywords.

In other words, you have got to be able to write, and you have got to be able to work your keywords into your headlines efficiently and effectively, so it reads well while also optimizing your webpage. Understandably, this might be challenging at first as it is not easy to do that, but that is how you will get the best results out of it.

So, start writing down headlines, testing, and placing keywords into them. Make sure the headlines read well because it is very obvious to spot SEO headlines. If it doesn’t read well, it will come off as if one is reading a list of keywords.

Ensure readability because your content quality is more important than simply optimizing your headlines.


The Takeaway

The H1 tag stands for a heading 1 tag – if you are an SEO or web designer and are thinking about how important is the H1 tag for improving your website ranking, then you should pay special attention to your H1 tag. Make it stand out from the rest of the content, and always keep in mind the user intent by ensuring that it matches with what the user is looking for on your webpage.

Rest assured, H1 tag best practices are super important, and if you miss out on them, your users will be confused. It will also impact Google algorithms, which will eventually lead to bad user metrics and, ultimately, bad website rankings.

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