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What Is the Importance of H1 Tag in SEO?

Before we dive into the details on the importance of h1 tag in SEO, first, let’s touch a little bit on some basic heading tags knowledge.

How Many Heading Tags Are There, and What Is Their Syntax?

HTML allows for six heading tags. They start from h1, all the way up to h6. Coding h tags is one of the easiest things anyone can do in HTML. The basic syntax is as follows(using h1 as an example): <h1> Whatever your heading is </h1>.

Similarly, if you were to deploy an h2, it would be–><h2>Whatever your heading is</h2>.

What makes coding h tags even more accessible is that pretty much all modern web editors and CMSs have a feature to mark the desired level of an h tag (such as h1, h2, h3, etc.) directly from the visual editor.

H1 Tag Mistakes to Avoid, as It Relates to SEO (and Probably, Common Sense Too)

While as easy as it is to write & code h1s, here are 5 mistakes you should avoid.

  1. Using the same h1 across multiple pages, or across your entire website.
  2. Using a paragraph as an h1.
  3. Skipping h1 tags altogether (you’ll have more context as to why once you read the post)
  4. Using h1 tags for other non-essential content/text such as widgets, menu items, etc.
  5. On the same post, or page, using multiple h1s.

Let’s establish one thing clearly: Headings are important. Search engines use headings to understand the structure of your web page.

Sidenote: To top it all, if you’re able to also get a backlink that has your h1 heading as an anchor text, that will be a very strong signal to the search engines about what your page is about, and its relevance to your target keyword. Links and SEO, along with h1, can play very significant roles in your organic performance.

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In any case, with all of the above stated, let’s understand & assimilate the importance of the h1 tag.

What’s All the Fuss About the h1 Tag?

As you might have read, there are numerous SEO ranking factors. It is said that the h1 tag is one of them. If you remember, we learned that there are 6 h tags. When it comes to headings tags as a ranking factor, h1 gets the top-most priority (believed, not proven with 100% certainty), followed by h2, h3, etc. It is typically reserved for the main heading/title (not to be confused with the title tag) of the page.

So What Is the Purpose of the h1 Tag?

So far, we understand that the h1 tag is a ranking factor. But, how does it help exactly?
Akin to a title of a book, magazine, newsletter, etc. the purpose of the h1 tag is also similar. When search engines crawl your h1, without crawling your main body content, they get an idea of what your page, blog post, etc. is about. This gives context to search engines. They immediately start to decipher what type of search queries they may need to rank your page for (all other ranking factors being the same).
Imagine that you haven’t read my blog post so far, but only the main heading (which happens to be the h1 tag). You’ll probably get a good idea of what my blog would talk about — by merely reading my main headline.
Lastly, h1 tag can also help with web accessibility.

What Is the Conclusion and What Are the Most Basic Best Practices Surrounding h1 Tag?

1. Honestly, treat an h1 as you would a main title of anything; make it catchy & enticing! From there, think of sub-headings as h2s, and so on and so forth. In my experience, I’ve rarely seen anyone go as far down as an h6. A reasonable expectation is that folks typically go down to an h3, and that’s it!
2. Make sure that your primary target keyword is part of your h1.
3. Use an h1 tag only once per post/page. Think; a main heading is a main heading. There can’t be more than one main/primary headings.
4. For the extra signal to search engines, keep your h1 tag the same as your title tag.
5. Ensure that your h1 tag succinctly summaries and answers the user’s intent. For instance, my h1 tag is highly focused on answering a long-tail query of “What Is the Importance of H1 Tag in SEO?”

Expert Resources

  1. Are H1 Tags Necessary for Ranking? [SEO Experiment]
  2. How to Create the Perfect H1 Tag for SEO
  3. Google Explains How to Use Headings for SEO