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<title>Headers - #2 - SEO Tips</title>
Headers, and how the simple tags of H1, H2, H3, H4 etc. will effect your SEO and overall website performance. This is a continuation of the SEO Tips and training group as first discussed on March 9th ( goo.gl/jej18 ). Our #1 SEO Tips was about Title Tags ( goo.gl/TbKXq ) if you missed that post, please read it before continuing with this one. This is a live results SEO training discussion only on Google+. To miss even one post, will defeat the purpose of learning these methods and the process behind them. So, here we go group (37 subscribers for these posts, ask if you're not subscribed to be notified), this, is the second discussion on our major points for proper SEO. Hopefully the notification goes out this time. With SEO, I want you to keep in mind that SEO is a base to your company being online. SEO is not the only marketing effort you should focus on, but is a main start. SEO is not phasing out - it will remain as long as search engines exist. White hat SEO is good for you to know, it allows your website to be more clear and organised, and more accessible not only to search engines but to users as well. What I am teaching, is completely white hat SEO and not manipulative ways to rank better. These just work, because they are common sense, but the common sense is obscured by all the deceptive teachings you'll find elsewhere.

All Posts Up To Date:
Titles - #1: goo.gl/TbKXq
Headers - #2: goo.gl/ctvYA
Content - #3: coming soon ( http://goo.gl/WRdKd )

..................you should perform your SEO decisions first and foremost on what is best for the visitors of your site....................

(if you're reading this on a phone, I'm sorry)
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# Short Form - skip to long form below if you don't care to get the information fast,
# and would rather the whole point of view with more detailed information.
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Your H1 tag should always be first. I would suggest not repeating it more than once unless it logically makes sense otherwise. I would say it should naturally appear as close to the beginning <body> tag as possibly in your template. Your H1 should be directly related to your title and should be short, sweet, and a brief introduction to what the user is about to read. It should be the only header on your page that you are directly trying to target by using a keyword or phrase. It would make sense to have a paragraph or brief description explaining your page. Don't just go to an H2 after your H1, try talking about your H1 first. Your H2 comes after your H1. An H2 tag can be repeated as often as you feel necessary, but should always have a paragraph or more talking about this header (h2) you just placed on your page. The H2 should be related to your H1 and does not need to have the main keyword or phrase, but does need to be related to the page content in general. Your H3 tag is a sub title for your H2, does not need to have the main keyword or phrase, but does need to be related to the page content. Your H4 is sub title for the H3, H5 for the H4 and H6 for the H5. You should not skip headers. H1 H2 H3, is right, H1 ,H3, h2 is wrong. Although this is debatable. Optimisation requires clean and organised code, this just makes sense. Your content, if it were stripped of all the HTML, or if the css wasn't working - should be readable and appear in the "natural" flow of the content. Your users, will also love your organisation - looks better, and easier to work with. If you would like to figure out how to make your headers stand out, try reading ( http://goo.gl/zkNW9 ) by +Dan Shure .. although the article is for titles, the same tips work well for headers.

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# Long Form - Go back to short form if you don't care about the process
# behind this SEO Tip.I do suggest the long read, you'll remember it better ;)
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<h1>Header Tags (H1,H2,H3,H4,H5,H6)</h1>
As you all know, you have header tags and many to choose from. But, do these tags effect your search engine optimization, and more importantly your user experience? The simple answer is yes. Like anything else I talk about in these posts, each tip will have an overall impact on your website performance. Each tip will connect with each other in one way or another, and the header tags are surely part of this. This performance difference that you'll experience by following these methods is not only with search ranking, but with your users as well. The organisation and content placed within your header tags is one of those debatable SEO topics, however after reading this post I hope it comes across as common sense. I have left a few points out of this discussion as I most likely will with each post. I also wanted to use +Dane Findley's website as an example, however we're going through the design change now which will implement this post and all of the others. I will update when this post is viewable on instantdane.tv - I also had Dane write an article not long ago, this article is to target a specific niche that is extremely competitive, this way, with the new template (organised html) and Dane's website back to "happy" status with Google - we can all see whether it truly makes an impact ;)

<H2>What Should Be In My H1 Tag?</H2>
Your H1 tag, is the main header of the page. This is essentially the new title, but without the main phrase as mentioned in our first discussion:

_ex.<title>Title Of My Post - My Main Phrase</title>
H1 (page header) would then be <h1>Title Of My Post</h1>_

Your H1 will help search engines and users match the "title" first seen in the search results for the query they were targeting and you're targeting. Google, will see the H1 as being related to your title, and rank that accordingly since they are connected. You've just provided the first positive signal to search engines. Your page is seen as related to your title with the H1 (we'll get to content later), essentially you've now proved that your title matches your page, hence, you're not lying ;) If the first header (as its intended for) is not about the page in question, how does this make any sense? How could this not effect SEO or user experience? ( yes, some people have their logo as H1 :( )

<H2>Will Out Of Order Headers Effect My Page?</H2>
To have out of order H1's and H2's is not that big of a deal, it doesn't break your SEO since spiders will know the difference between an H1 and an H2 and your css can organise them, but what if the user doesn't have css turned on? What if you were to strip all the html from the page and read it via text presented in the fashion it was delivered to you. Would it be readable? In most website cases, no. If you were to strip all html of a wikipedia page as a perfect example, you could read it very clearly and decipher what is, and what is not part of the content. The H1 for their "life" page is <h1 id="firstHeading" class="firstHeading"> <span dir="auto">Life</span> </h1>.

<h2>Can You Use More Than One H1 Tag?</h2>
Yes, you can have more than one H1 tag if you would like, but I'd suggest only doing so if it's logical and makes sense. You really should use it for headers or headings, which is what its intent is but I'd suggest from experience to use the H1 for just the main title. In the example used above for Wikipedia, there is no repeat of the H1 tag, it is used only once. It just makes sense to organise the code within a website in the order it would naturally follow. If you were to read a book, from left to right, top to bottom - the title of the chapter (H1) always comes first. if you found the chapter title on the next page of the book - you might would be a bit confused. The H1 tag is the main "title" of the content on your page that the user is about to read.

<h3>What Really Matters</h3>
Anyways, what really matters is the content within each of your headers which we will get to right away. I do however stress the organisation as you can tell. So, hopefully you see organisation of headers, especially the H1 - as common sense. Organise :)! I did mention that users don't care about the <title> tag once they reach your page, and this is why. The H1, is the new <title> tag once a user is on your page. The content of your H1 should fit directly with the title you have chosen, and a target pitch that gives the user a reason to read your page. This should have been accomplished with the title tag if you got the visitor from search. If you would like to figure out how to make your titles & headers stand out more to your readers, try reading ( http://goo.gl/zkNW9 ) by +Dan Shure .. although the article is for titles, the same tips work well for headers.

Some simple Do points for your H1:
= Use one and only one H1 tag.
= H1 should at least be closely related to your <title> tag if not exact (without main phrase).
= H1, is the title of the page a user sees when they are on your site (make it good, short and sweet!)

<h2>What Should Be The H1 Of My Home Page?</h2>
The only don't I have for this, is not to use any term such as (home,main) or other broad phrase that has no relevance to your website content. Since we haven't used your Business Name in the Title as a main phrase - the main/home page can now be seen as the perfect place for this to occur. Your home page can now have the title of <title>Business Name - Main Phrase</title> with an H1 of <H1>Business Name</h1> - not only does this make sense in a logical way, but it helps brand your website for what you really want to be found for. Your company name :)

<H2>What Should Appear After The H1</H2>
Well a paragraph of course! At least some content! What's an H1 tag without some content talking about the H1? What's a title good for if you just skip to the next header(H2)? I often find websites lacking one important ingredient, content relating directly to the H1 tag. To have an H1 and then directly going to links and navigation and then skipping to the H2, this doesn't speak much about the H1 tag - this would make the H2 more important than the H1 in an algorithmic sorta viewpoint. Try adding some content, a paragraph at minimum. The content of the paragraph should relate to the entire page you're about to talk about, and with normal writing, you'll probably find that what you wrote in the H1 magically fits into the content you write about in your paragraph, and may even fit your main phrase. All, without having to perform any keyword stuffing or un-natural communication.

<h3>An Example Of What Appears</h3>
Lets use an example you trust (Wikipedia), the life page ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life ) follows this exact step. After the H1, they describe life, they define it and they talk about it. If you think I'm not guilty of not following this step, don't worry I will prove I don't always follow it - but I assure you it's in the works with the new site. You'll find that I don't follow this step on my own site for the same word "life" - whatrhymeswith.com/rhyme/life - But, it's logical in a way. The entire page fits to my H1, without a doubt - and the very first H2 is the word "life" with description all about it. This, is for my readers not for search engines. I focus on my users for a reason - if they reach a page about something, to make a header for it but not talk about the header I just mentioned simply does not make sense. Organisation, is able to be seen by this process. I suggest to do different than I just showed you, try writing a paragraph for and/or about your H1 tag, a paragraph or more - unless it is more logical to do so with your H2 as I did. I hope this makes sense, as it was really hard to put into words ;)

<h2>What About The H2 Tag?</h2>
Finally, we've gotten past the H1 tag and it's utmost importance of organisation. So now, here comes the easy part. The H2 tag, can appear as often as you'd like. It's a sub header for your H1 tag. Your H2 tag should naturally fit to what your H1 is saying it should. On that Wikipedia page, they use the H2 for each sub-category of the page. Their first H2 is "Contents", then "Early theories about *life*", "Definitions","Origin", etc... do you see a pattern? If, in an organised fashion you can place your H1, then your H2's - you've just fit each of your H2 contents to the main title (title & H1). You've made your H1 have more weight, which in turn makes your title have more weight as well. If each of your H2 tags fits to your main H1 top, not only will it get users to stay on your page longer and read more, but may also convince the search engines that you have good, readable, and organised information which is user friendly, optimised, and easy to follow. This, is weighted.

<H2>What About The Other Headers? Like H3, H4, H5 & H6?</h2>
Lets also look at these from the same organised fashion. W3C explains these tags as H1 (the most important) to H6 (the least important). They also say that some people consider skipping heading levels to be bad practice. They accept H1 H2 H1 while they do not accept H1 H3 H1 since the heading level H2 is skipped ( w3.org/TR/html401/struct/global.html#h-7.5.5 ). this is me, I see skipping headers as bad practice. Below, is what I see as good practice. Also, I don't bother with the H4, H5 or H6 any-more as naturally I never usually get that far, but based on the following layout you will figure out whether you need to or not. The H4-H6 have very little effect on your SEO, so I would say to value them as an organised manner only and possibly user benefits.

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# Example Layout
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<h1>
...paragraph
...<h2>
......paragraph
......<h3>
.........paragraph
...<h2>
......paragraph
......<h3>
.........paragraph
.........<h4>
............paragraph
............<h5>
...............paragraph
.........<h4>
............paragraph
...<h2>
......paragraph
###############
# Example Layout
###############

As you can tell, I didn't talk much about the impacts that the Headers will have on your SEO, or even on your visitor. Natural SEO that works, is following basic yet widely missed natural steps of web development. This, is one of those steps that has a major impact on your users experience and your SEO. :) Did I miss anything? Also, keep in mind before answering this question - I leave things out since they may fit to the next post, or maybe, the next post has impact on what you might do at with this post! ;) - SEO and user experience takes knowing more than one factor. If one change effects your entire website, and one change effects everything else, then they must all have some relation to eachother, no?

I've also placed this with Header tags on my own blog which I never use, just so you can see the organisation if this post were using headers. It's a non-optimised blog I never use, so I don't mind if it's all messy and un-organised (at least for now)

http://seoblog.yougomedia.com/2012/search-engine-optimization/headers-2-seo-tips

Hope this wasn't to much of a read, I just like to talk a lot.
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14 comments
 
thanks for this goldmine, +James Cordeiro Fortunately, headers are fun. (Titles are more stress-inducing, simply because they're so important: concentrating on both search optimization and piquing-interest at the exact same time can be challenging!)
 
Titles are a bit rough at first +Dane Findley. What I try to do, is first focus on what I am writing, complete the article/post or page and then come up with a title that drills down what the user is about to read. Keyword Research sometimes is not necessary. This is like using the quote by +Albert Einstein "“If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” .. spend 55 minutes on writing your amazing, high quality post/article. Then, you'll figure out your title in only 5 minutes since your brain has just focused on the problem for a long period of time. :)! +JC Little, do you title your animations before or after you create them?

+tomas budrys, welcome. :)
 
I have a rough idea of the blog post title as I draw, but I finalize it just before posting. I try really hard to be mindful of the SEO when finalizing the title but I often give way to just plain cleverness and hilarity. A perfect example of this would be ... "The Emperor's Klouthes" which may be a fail since it doesn't have the word "Klout" in it as a standalone searchable word - folks searching for "Klout" prolly won't find it. Neither does it have the word "clothes" in it, so those searching for the original children's cautionary tale will not find it either (that's prolly not a bad thing though haha).
http://www.theanimatedwoman.com/2011/11/emperors-klouthes.html

Am I right?
 
Then you're doing it right +JC Little :) Your focus, is your users as it always should be. just plain cleverness and hilarity is good enough - as for animations, I don't think you need to optimise all of your posts, just your main page and your main focus of content (about page, home page, etc.). If you focus on your users, all should fall into place. The next post on content, and interlinking will help you :) It's your interlinking and general content that will help attach the missing links that occur with your cleverness and hilarity of your titles. :) (in other words, by missing out on title and header seo, you can fill the gap with interlinking and page content.) :) I'll clarify this in the next post, and would you mind if I use your website as an example?
 
Question: The editor for my WP theme does not have header tags, they have to be hand coded. Lazily, in my blog posts I use <strong> and <em> tags. Do "h 2 - 6" tags have great SEO value?
 
+Gary S Hart H4-6 don't have much weight SEO wise. H1-3 seem to have some value, but the main focus with values in your search rankings seem to rely heavily on the H1 and H2 tags. Using <strong> and/or <em> is also a great way to highlight parts of your page that you want to emphasise such as keywords or phrases that your page is trying to target. This will be explained more closely in the next post which we will talk about content and interlinking. Thank you for the question +Gary S Hart :)
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