H1 Tag: Why Is It Essential And How To Optimize Them For SEO?

March 4, 2024 | Advanced SEO

When we talk about ranking web pages in search results, the first thing that comes to mind is search engine optimization. 

The moment we think about SEO, keywords are the first thing we consider.

After all, keywords are the oxygen that keeps your rankings alive. 

But what if the search engines do not understand the intent and purpose of your web page?

They simply won’t rank it!

So, how can you convey what your web page is about to the search engines?

Here comes the H1 tags in the picture.

In this article, we will discuss H1 tags, their role in ranking your web pages, and how you can optimize them for search engines.

So, stay tuned.

What Is An H1 Tag?

An H1 tag is an HTML header that creates the title of a web page.

Following is the example of an H1 tag.

H1 tag

A typical HTML code for an H1 tag looks like the following,

H1 tag in HTML code

Why Are H1 Tags Essential For SEO?

H1 tags play an essential role in ranking SEO for three following reasons,

H1 Tag Describes The Purpose Of Your Web Pages

H1 tags help your readers and search engines understand the purpose of your web page content. 

That, in turn, helps search engines to index and rank your web pages for relevant search queries.

Google suggests creating descriptive H1 tags to ensure crawlers can easily understand them.

The H1 tag of the following blog post is an ideal example of a descriptive H1 tag.

Descriptive H1 tag

The moment readers read the title, they get the distinct idea that the web page content will offer the best e-commerce marketing strategies for 2023.

HTML code for the H1 tag

The HTML code of the above H1 tag does the same for Google and other search engines.

H1 Header Ensures Smooth User Experience

Google prioritizes user experience the most and considers it one of the ranking factors.

If users find it difficult to skim and follow your web page content, Google will surely avoid ranking it.

The first step towards offering user comfort is to craft a distinct and descriptive H1 tag using the largest font size compared to the rest of the content.

That will help users understand what exactly they can expect from the web page content.

Next, you must curate your content with supporting subheadings using H2s, H3s, etc. That will further help users understand the details your web content will cover by scrolling down your web page.

Easily skimmable web page layout

The page layout on the right of the above image displays how ideally you must design your web pages using H1, H2, and H3 tags to make your content easily skimmable.

H1 Heading Enhances Accessibility

The world is not as colorful and easy for all like you who are currently reading this article.

Yes, we are talking about those millions of people who suffer from visual impairment. 

They use screen readers to browse the web. That helps them convert a web page’s content and images into audio.

Screen reader users’ preference

Research by WebAIM shows that 60% of users who use search readers find web page content with a single H1 tag easier to skim.

How To Insert H1 Tags To Your Web Pages?

Now that you know the importance of h1 heading in SEO, you must be eager to know how to add them to your web pages.

No matter which content management system (CMS) your website uses, adding H1 HTML tags is not a complex process.

Most CMS systems make your meta titles your H1 tags by default. If you are okay with that, you need not do anything.

However, you may not always prefer making your meta title and h1 tag identical, especially if the meta title contains promotional terms like the mention of your brand name. That may look spammy in the H1 tag appearing in the title of your web page content.

In this section, we will discuss how you can change your H1 tags in three widely used major content management systems and HTML.

WordPress

Most themes in WordPress are, by default, programmed to use the web page title as an H1 tag.

However, the CMS allows you to reprogram and change your headers.

You need to follow a few simple steps mentioned below,

  1. First, you need to highlight the H1 tag.

    Highlighting h1 tag in WordPress

  2. A toolbar will appear above the highlighted H1 tag.

    Toolbar above the highlighted h1 tag in WordPress.

  3. Next, you need to click on the paragraph symbol appearing at the leftmost corner of the toolbar and select the ‘Heading’ option.

    Selecting the ‘Heading’ option from the toolbar in WordPress

  4. WordPress by default selects the H2 tag, you need to click on the ‘H2’ and change it to ‘H1’ for editing your H1 tag.

    Selecting ‘H1’ from the toolbar in WordPress

  5. Next, you can make the necessary changes in your H1 tag.

Wix

Wix, by default, uses the web page title as H1 tag. However, you can change your H1 tag by following the below-mentioned steps,

  1. You can add the H1 tag of your choice by clicking on the “Add a Catchy Title’ block.

    “Add a Catchy Title’ block in Wix

  2. If you want to edit your existing H1 tag, first you need to select the text of your H1 tag and click on the ‘Edit Text’ button.

    Editing the text of your existing h1 tag in Wix

  3. Next, you need to click on the ‘Themes’ drop down menu.

    ‘Themes’ drop down menu in Wix

  4. Lastly you must select the ‘Heading 1’ option to make the edited text your H1 tag.

Selecting the ‘Heading 1’ option in Wix

Squarespace

Adding and changing the H1 heading for blog posts is comparatively easier in Squarespace than in the above two CMS.

You need to follow the below-mentioned steps,

  1. First, you need to select the text of your H1 heading.

    Selecting the text of your h1 heading in Squarespace

  2. Next, click on the formatting button appearing at the leftmost corner of the toolbar and edit the text as per your choice.

    Formatting of the toolbar in Squarespace

  3. Lastly, you must select the ‘Heading 1’ option from the dropdown menu to make the edited text as your H1 tag.

Selecting the ‘Heading 1’ option from the dropdown menu in Squarespace

HTML

Adding an H1 tag is the easiest using an H1 HTML code. You only need to follow the three steps mentioned below, 

  1. First, put an opening H1 tag.

    HTML h1 tag

  2. Next, enter the text for your page title.
  3. Lastly, put a closing H1 tag.

How To Optimize H1 Tags For SEO?

This section will discuss the six most effective ways to optimize your h1 tag SEO.

Here you go!

Use Single H1 Tag Per Web Page

Your web page content should have only one H1 tag used for the title of the post. That helps readers (and screen reader users) to understand what the blog post is about.

Using a single H1 tag per page makes your web page structure more logical and easily skimmable.

HTML header tags hierarchy

The H2s should be used to form essential subheadings, and H3s can form subheadings to support H2s.

Ensure All Essential Web Pages Have H1 Tags

Any web page you wish to rank in search results is essential, and you must ensure that every essential web page must have a H1 tag.

The best way to find issues regarding your H1 headings is to conduct a thorough site audit using a reliable tool like RankWatch website auditor.

The RankWatch Site Auditor

The tool helps you find all your H1 tag issues with their types, levels of criticality, and number of web pages having those issues.

H1 tag issues in RankWatch Site Auditor

You can easily identify the web pages with no H1 tags, short or duplicate H1 tags, and multiple H1 tags in the site auditor’s ‘Issue distribution’ section.

Include The Seed Keyword 

Including your main keywords in the H1 heading plays a vital role in H1 SEO. 

But, for that, you must know your relevant keywords first.

You can opt for the best free keyword research tool to find them in the blink of an eye.

The RankWatch keyword research tool

 

The meta titles and H1 tags help search engines determine if your web page content can satisfy the user’s search query. That makes it even more essential to include your keywords in H1 tags.

Moreover, it helps readers clearly understand the topic of your web page content, which enhances the user experience. We all know that Google prioritizes user experience a lot.

Tip: You must try to include the seed keyword at the beginning of your H1 tag to gain the maximum benefit.

Maintain The Right Length 

It is best to keep your H1 tags concise and to the point like your content.

Recommended character count for h1 tags

It will be ideal to keep your H1 tags within 50 to 60 characters like your meta titles for the following two reasons,

  1. Most of the major content management systems use your meta titles as H1 tags by default unless you change them manually.
  2. Google may switch between meta title tags and H1 tags at times.

Truncated meta title in SERP

If your H1 tags exceed 60 characters, Google may truncate your meta title in search results.

Prioritize Search Intent 

A user’s search intent initiates every search on the internet, and satisfying the user’s search intent is the prime goal of Google’s search engine.

Google on search intent

It will be of great help if you put yourself in searchers’ shoes while writing your landing page content. Then you will understand users’ intents and expectations while they perform a search.

You must design your H1 header so that the reader immediately understands what to expect from the web page content.

You need the right tool to provide improvement ideas for your H1 tags. The RankWatch on-page SEO checker can provide you with those ideas quickly.

RankWatch on-page SEO checker

The tool shows the usage of exact keywords in your H1 header and suggests further improvisation ideas.

Suggestion for exact keywords in H1 in RankWatch SEO IQ

Ensure H1s Match Title Tags

People often get confused between H1 tags and title tags.

Make it clear that the only similarity between a title tag and an H1 tag is that both are HTML tags.

Rest everything is different.

Many need clarification on the HTML title tags and H1 tags, mainly because both are the same from the copy standpoint.

For example, the following is a title tag that appears as the web page’s title on SERPs or when the web content is shared on any platform.

Title tag

The HTML title tag also appears in the tag of your web browser like shown below.

https://www.rankwatch.com/blog/seo-ranking-factors-for-2022-a-complete-guide/

Whereas, the H1 tag represents the actual title appearing on the web page as shown below.

H1 tag

Google suggests matching your H1 tags with title tags. That will ensure users do not get confused landing on your web page after clicking the title tag on the SERP.

However, they need not be identical but must be similar to avoid the appearance of inaccurate blog titles on the SERP.

Final Thoughts

Many digital marketers often ignore the importance of the H1 tag in SEO in pursuit of prioritizing other essential SEO elements like keywords, backlinks, etc.

Unless the search engines understand the intent of your web page content, chances are remote that they will index and rank your content.

H1 tags act as bridging elements that explain to search engines the purpose and topic of your web page content and ensure higher rankings.

Moreover, your H1 tags instantly give your readers an idea about the topic and ensure a smooth user experience, which Google prioritizes a lot.

Hence, follow the best practices to optimize your H1 tags, as discussed in this article, and start enjoying a higher ranking in search results.

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