What is an H1 Tag?
An H1 tag is an element in HTML.
- The acronym HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language.
- The term “tag” is defined as a small piece of code which directs your browser on how to show specific content.
In the HTML language itself, six heading tags are defined: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6.
Tags are ranked from most important to least important, with h1 being the most important, and h6 being the least important.
This helps the web page creator highlight the most important, and least important, sections of their web page.
To become more familiar with the h1 tag, a good exercise would be the following:
- Open up any web page of your choosing
- Take a look at the source code (Chrome (Windows): Ctrl + U, Chrome(Mac): CMD + Option + u)
- When you view the source code, you’ll see many different character statements. Don’t be intimidated!
- Press Ctrl + F to search the source code, and you’ll see a small search dialog box in your window’s upper-right hand corner.
- Type “h1” then press Enter.
- At this point, your web browser will highlight the h1 tag within this page’s source code.
Most likely, you will see a detailed snippet of code between the starting h1 tag and the ending h1 tag, but the tag is there nonetheless.
Creating the h1 tag is a simple enough process, however having a good quality h1 tag will have a large impact on your website.
Why is an H1 Tag Important?
An optimized h1 tag can help with your SEO.
Here are some important facts regarding the importance of an h1 tag:
- H1 Tags have historically been an important ranking factor in Search Engine Optimization.
- H1’s normally have a larger font size as they are the primary topic of the page.
Optimizing H1 tags is a very popular tactic to improve rankings for specific keywords.
In fact, around eighty percent of the top search results within the first page of Google searches use an h1 tag.
H1 best practices
Here are some best practices when using an H1
- Use only one H1 on a page.
- The topic of your page should be described through your h1 tag.
- Your H1 should be the title of the page
- Google uses H1 for search titles so you can use title case on H1 tags.
- Match your title tag and your H1 if you can
Use Only one H1 on a page
H1 is the gist of the page. There is a great advantage to having only one clear topic on the page.
In a video, Google’s John Mueller says its ok to have multiple H1s on a page.
However, he clearly indicates that semantically marking up the page is always a good idea.
The W3C also offers a similiar advice on the topic. They indicate that
The first element of heading content in an element of sectioning content represents the heading for that section. Subsequent headings of equal or higher rank start new (implied) sections, headings of lower rank start implied subsections that are part of the previous one. In both cases, the element represents the heading of the implied section.
This means if you have multiple H1’s on a page, each start of H1 represent a seperate section.
This would normally not be required unless you write very lengthy content.
Your H1 should be the title of the page
As indicated by Google’s John Mueller, your page benefits from having one clear topic.
H1 is semantically considered to be the start of the document outline.
H1 represent the main topic of the page.
A title usually added above the body of the page also represent the same thing.
It is therefore prudent to have your title be the H1 of the page.
This is also consistent with advice that Google gives to news publishers.