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SEO: The right way to use H1 tag

SEO H1 tag

The heading tags H1, H2, … are used to emphasize content and by this way improve SEO strength of website. The H1 tag, the most important tag, is usually used for main topic of the web page. It is recommended that we should use only one H1 tag on per page. This causes some different ways of position H1 tag, its implementation in the header of website (blog) and the title of posts.

Using H1 tag as the post title

In a single blog post, we need to emphasize the content of the post, so the H1 tag should be used for post title. Because of not using more than one H1 tag in one page, the header of blog has to be used with other alternative tag (h3, h4, span, p, a, etc.).

One more advantage of this method is that the H1 tag is not repeatable across pages. It means different pages talk about different things.

Joost de Valk, the author of Yoast.com recommends it, too:

Although most themes for WordPress get this right, make sure your post title is an H1, and nothing else. Your blog’s name should only be an H1 on your frontpage, and on single, post, and category pages, it should be no more than an H3.

If you’re using WordPress, you can read the instruction written by Prelovac.

Some WordPress theme frameworks like Thesis, Hybrid, Thematic, use this method with some adjustments: in home page, they use H1 tag for blog description instead of header.

Always use H1 tag for blog header

The method above is not very popular. The more popular method is always use H1 tag for blog (website) header, and H2 tag for post title. It guarantees the web page semantic as written in Digging into WordPress ebook:

While using H1 tags for post titles instead of the site name may provide an extra nudge from the search engines, it is not altogether semantically correct to do so. Without getting into a lengthy discussion about semantical markup, suffice it to say that “properly” marked-up Web documents are frequently thought of as displaying the name of the site via H1 elements, with all subsequent sections following from there.

Some popular websites like SmashingMagazine.com, CatsWhoCode.com, noupe.com, etc. are using this method.

Exception

Not every website uses one of two methods above. The most popular usage is the combined method: use H1 tag both for website header and post title. A modification of the combined method, which is used by Nettuts+ and DavidWalsh.name is that use H1 tag for only post title, the website header always uses another tag. CSS-Tricks.com doesn’t use H1 tag for website header, either, but it uses only H2 tag for post titles (so that there’s not any H1 tag in the website).

In my opinion, the first method is better, because it emphasize the most important thing in one web page. When search engines look at source of web page, it finds immediately the H1 tag and get directly the main topic of this web page, without losing time for scanning other tags. The second method is good for web semantic, but it makes search engines work a bit harder for finding web page’s topic.

How do you use H1 tag in your blog? Which method do you prefer? I’d like to listen to you in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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