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H1 Tag Limit - Penalties - Myth Or Legend


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25 replies to this topic

#1 bobmeetin

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 04:07 PM

Semantically it makes sense to have a single h1 tag on a page, however you sometimes see template systems which for whatever reason, incorporate multiple. Then of course there is the webjockey who doesn't know any better and uses them repetitively.

When it comes to SEO have you heard of any penalties (purpose being spammish or whatever) being imposed on sites that have 3,4,5 or more per page?

#2 Jill

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 06:23 PM

I would say there would absolutely not be any penalties for such a thing. It's would be, imo, ludicrous.

#3 Michael Martinez

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 06:48 PM

Think of an H1 as a combination of BOLD and (large size) FONT, as far as SEO goes. Semantically you should only have one H1 per page but if you use more than one it just spreads the emphasis around (diluting its own value).

#4 bobmeetin

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 08:57 PM

Now when Jill say "ludicrous" I just scratch my head and nod in agreement... But when you put it in mathematical terms my heart senses contentment.

h1 * 100% = full h1 value
h1 x 33% + h1 * 33% + h1 * 33% = ludicrously diluted values, none reaching its full potential.

Is there any evidence to support this or is it urban legend? I've seen mostly unresolved discussions in other forums or news groups suggesting that multiple h1's is bad for SEO. If spamming is not the issue, is it bad simply because it's unwise to dilute the value?



#5 Jill

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 07:53 AM

Our old site used H1 tags for all the headlines and did great in the search engines. I know I'm bad according to WC3 freaks, but I'm lazy and will use H tags for styling. So sue me.

Google would be fools to factor anything like that into their algo. Especially since H tags aren't seemingly an SEO factor anyway.

What makes you think that H1 tags are given special weight by search engine algos?

#6 bobmeetin

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:16 AM

QUOTE(Jill @ Oct 22 2009, 06:53 AM) View Post
Our old site used H1 tags for all the headlines and did great in the search engines. I know I'm bad according to WC3 freaks, but I'm lazy and will use H tags for styling. So sue me.

Google would be fools to factor anything like that into their algo. Especially since H tags aren't seemingly an SEO factor anyway.

What makes you think that H1 tags are given special weight by search engine algos?


The quick and dirty - I don't know for sure but when there are so many articles that suggest it is, some referencing W3C and semantics, you really have to ask yourself, "Is it so?" There is a reason for semantic hierarchy, standards, process. Whether search engines buy into the semantic standards or not is certainly up for debate, but if we think about developing good content and structure it would make sense if for no other reason than legibility.

I spent the last couple hours doing the dance, took a ride on the Google express and did a couple searches:

h1 tag seo
h1 tag seo google

Probably 80% of the results of the page 1 results articles, be it opinionated or other, suggest that search engines walk the talk and place greater import on the h1 tag content. I could probably did through a few more pages of results pages and try to find some pages with proof and maybe get lucky, but either way the majority of results I reviewed are in agreement.

If I can find the time, I'll set up several sample pages with various semantic versions of markup and some unique identifier for each page and run some tests. This is kind of like the tune, the jingle, that drive you nuts as it spins around shaking up brain cells.

Related tangent --> The <title> tag is considered the most important element of the web page. I solicit opinions, suggestions on the relationship of the <title> tag and the forementioned <h1>.

#7 Michael Martinez

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:43 AM

Google has stated that they look at Hx headers and try to estimate how the embedded text would look compared to the rest of the page. They still compute IR scores for your on-page content. They always have. That includes all sorts of stuff.

Now, how much does any one factor matter? Not much?

Can you increase a factor's influence by repeating it? With some factors, yes. But no one outside of Google knows how much or why.

The thing with emphasis however, is that it is supposed to EMPHASIZE. If every word on the page is in all caps or bold or italics or red, then what is emphasized?

You have to think in terms of, "Relative to the rest of the content on the page, is this content important enough that it should stand out?"

They're trying to make some sense of the styling -- they always have -- but emphasis has its limits and many people exceed those limits incredibly well.

#8 Ron Carnell

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 11:28 AM

Any English majors here? In my opinion, the H1-H6 structures in HTML are directly analogous to those boring outlines our English teachers forced us to learn in high school. Certainly, they serve the same semantic purpose. Shouldn't they also follow much the same rules?

I would love to see a link where the W3C specifically says we should use only a single H1 tag per page. I can't find one, but if they do say that, in my opinion, they would be wrong. You might as well say a book can have only one chapter?




#9 bobmeetin

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 12:54 PM

Well - if you go to the W3C Validator page, there is a button called Options. Flipping through the options get use to this page, not be a rule, but incredibly useful nonetheless: http://validator.w3....ri with_options. And yes I just discovered this myself...... thumbup1.gif

#10 1dmf

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 09:40 AM

What makes you believe multiple H1 tags are errors on W3C? because they aren't.

http://validator.w3......lidator/1.654

Whether or not SE's carry weight for H# tags, having multiple H1 or any other type of H# tag is perfectly acceptable, valid and semantic.

If a page only had text relating to a specific subject or had only one headline, then a page would perhaps only have one H1 tag for it's main headline, in terms of semantics I'm not sure the number of headings or the H# tag used is the point.

The H#(number) is purley to produce a design / display differences, its not specificly for implying it's a sub-heading. There isn't a sub-paragrapgh tag! or sub-lists , you simply nest them!

If the content is a heading and is correctly wrapped in a heading tag, the number heading of the tag is irrelivant, these tags are legacy for non-CSS capable browsers so you can format the text accordingly without breaking CSS / Design separation concepts.

At the end of the day W3C doesn't say you can't use font tags in your markup or other design stuff such as underline, italic, it just says if you're going to then use the correct DocType declaration!

QUOTE
I know I'm bad according to WC3 freaks, but I'm lazy and will use H tags for styling. So sue me.
As I just said, there is nothing W3C says about not using a H5 tag for smaller text, it's a legacy thing.

I can use CSS to make a H6 tag show larger than a H1 tag, once you understand semantics and why W3C are trying to implement standards, you'll find you'll start using the right tag for the right content naturally instead keep trying to go against the grain.

The only people who loose out when websites stick two fingers up at the standrds are the less fortunate visitors that don't have the latest browsers.

Do you really want to loose all that potential mobile phone trafic and sales, because your site sucks on different devices because you can't be arsed to follow some simple semantic W3C standards.

It's about portability, reliability, accessibility, quality, integrity, conformity ..... but what do I know dntknw.gif

N.B.

Semantic use of heading tags h1 more important than h3, is defined visually by the difference in formating , which CSS can overide, how about having a heading with the same importance but you want designed differently but don't use CSS and doctype doesn't allow font tag.

if you didn't use the h# tags for styling it would be impossible to format them, you didn't break the rule Jill, you bent it wink1.gif , I may be a W3C freak, but bending the rules is fine in my book smile.gif


Edited by 1dmf, 23 October 2009 - 10:06 AM.


#11 Hic

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 02:43 PM

Hi,
May I know bobmeetin, why are you trying to put many H1 tags in one page ? Does that make a sense (W3C speaking (why there are h2, h3 ... then ?).
Or maybe you think that this will help your site ranking? I read so many articles saying that H1 tags aren't considered like in the past few years ..

For example, in this article, they are saying that alt attributes for images are now more important than H1 tags ..
www.seomoz.org/blog/seo-best-practices-seomozs-new-policies-based-on-updated-correlation-data

#12 bobmeetin

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 03:51 PM

I am not.

I am a developer first, SEO adviser second. When I see different ways of doing things and I listen to different points of view I look for balance. My developer/designer group includes a lot of folks who are very strict in a standards structure. That is fine and may even be perfect but is it real world SEO? Are adhering to strict standards always in the customers' benefit?

I care very much about the structure, semantics of the layout, but also care that I am doing not only the "right" thing for my customers, but not accidentally crossing into negative impact situations. The analytical mind likes to work with a template formula then adjust as necessary, but always looking out for the customer.

That's interesting about alt attributes. Good catch.

#13 Michael Martinez

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 12:28 AM

Take the SEOmoz analyses with a grain of salt. While I am sure they have very good people collecting and looking at the data, they are not sharing the data and their conclusions have not been validated by outside parties. Rand Fishkin indicated in one of his articles that they are looking primarily at SEO-related queries. If that is in fact what they are doing, then their data set is not representative of the general Web.

Nor have they indicated that they have taken any measures to isolate factors. Rand has been careful to acknowledge (in an oblique way) the criticisms that have been directed at their analyses and he has clarified that they are finding correlations which may or may not reveal causes.

The SEOmoz articles are providing food for thought and will, hopefully, spur more investigation -- but until people share their data and explain their methodologies in detail, there is no real substance to any of these types of analyses.

One need not necessarily share data if the methodology can be replicated by others.

#14 bobmeetin

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 10:37 AM

That's the point. The purpose of my post is/was to separate myth from fact. When someone says do it this way, just because, well maybe you would like to know why? Be it fact or fiction, a somewhat valid reason for using a single h1 tag might be because using multiple h1's devalues each just a tad or perhaps because the document looks better. Or because 4 h1's put you on alert status and 5 flag your site (example only) for future anonymity.

Well hey, I can easily make any document look the same with or without header tags, paragraphs etc by setting up custom styles using divs and spans and whatnot. Silly to waste the extra effort but doable. The only people who will know are those who view the source.

Ultimately I will undoubtedly stick with what is semantically correct and meets good SEO practice. When you can prove to me that the status quo is now broken, then we make a new game plan.

Again, the ultimate test would be creating a variety of similar pages and waiting a few months to see how the search engines respond, assuming you don't get flagged for duplicate content, even your own...


#15 Jill

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 11:58 AM

QUOTE
Well hey, I can easily make any document look the same with or without header tags, paragraphs etc by setting up custom styles using divs and spans and whatnot. Silly to waste the extra effort but doable. The only people who will know are those who view the source.


Try it. You'll most likely not notice a difference as far as search engines are concerned.




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