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Learn the Pros and Cons of Using Multiple H1 Header Tags vs Adding New Pages

March 24th, 2009 | | Nuts & Bolts of Optimization

There is a lot of discussion on the importance of header tags (H1, H2, H3 – H6) in the blogosphere and how they affect SEO. Basically, header tags are a way of organizing and outlining copy within a webpage. The search engines do place more emphasis on header tags over bolding titles or just plain body copy, as header tags give an overview of what the page is going to talk about and are generally looked at first by a user to determine if a webpage is relevant to their search. Readers connect with your header tags immediately upon hitting your page. It’s best to have your keywords in your header tags so the reader can connect their search with your header tag and know they’ve come to the right place to get their question answered.

So, know that if you have a title on your page and it doesn’t have the h1 header tag which is simply < h1 >This is my title< /h1 > then you need to change it so the search engines can read it. You can do the same with other header tags like < h2 >, < h3 >, < h4 >, < h5 > and < h6 >. The higher the number of the header tag, the smaller the font size basically as far as design goes and the less the search engines emphasize importance of that header tag. But even header tags 2 – 6 are still better than bolding or body copy.

With header tags in mind, some people find that having multiple H1 header tags on one page can hurt your SEO. Well, according to Matt Cutts, it can’t hurt your SEO, but he recommends limiting your H1 header tags to no more than 3. I guess that’s why they created H2 – H6 to have sub-categories of your main content!

My thought is, along with others, is that if you feel you need several H1 header tags on one page, than you might want to think about separating out that content onto brand new pages. This will help the users navigate to your content easier, and it can also help the search engines figure out which keywords to target for each page, rather than targeting a bunch of different keywords for one page. By separating out your content onto new pages, it will become easier to rank for a set of keywords than to have them all on one page. And those new pages you create are likely to have a higher pagerank by focusing on only 1 – 2 keywords each rather than that one large page.

In summary, as Matt Cutts puts it, limit yourself to no more than 3 H1 header tags per page. But also think about creating content for the end user, not necessarily the search engines. If the content is easy to navigate for the user, the search engines will recognize that and reward you for it in the end.

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