homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Become a Pro Member
Home / Forums Index / Google / Google SEO News and Discussion
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: Robert Charlton & aakk9999 & brotherhood of lan & goodroi

Google SEO News and Discussion Forum

This 70 message thread spans 3 pages: 70 ( [1] 2 3 > >     
Two H1 tags on One Page - Effect in Google SERP

 12:52 am on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I know that many people have said that Google pays a lot of attention to the H1 tag. It carries weight in the SERP.

I wanted to ask if it is ok to have two H1 tags on the same page.

E.g. <H1>Build Red Widgets With Machines</H1>
<H1>The Best Way to Create Widgets</H1>

Maybe it can be as the above or maybe the second one can specified to be a little smaller in font size than the first H1 tag but there are still two.

I wanted to ask what your guys experience has been with this? How does Google view this? Sometimes, I feel that it may take more than one phrase to say what a page is about.



 3:32 am on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

it doesn't make any difference.


 3:53 am on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>Sometimes, I feel that it may take more than one phrase to say what a page is about.

Of course! It can take one main phrase to say what the main topic of a page is about - the <h1> heading, and it can also take one, two or more related phrases using <h2> as sub-headings.

E.g. <H1>Build Red Widgets With Machines</H1>
<H1>The Best Way to Create Widgets</H1>

Or how about
<H1>The Best Way Build Red Widgets is With Machines</H1>

Or is there another way, without machines? If there is, then that's two <h2> sub-headings under the main <h1>Building Widgets</h1> topic, one without machines and one with machines.

Is there one way, or more than one way to build the widgets, with the goal of the page being to convince visitors that using machines is the better way, in order to sell the machines?

It's always best to stay with the semantically correct way of using markup on pages. Form follows function, and that's what semantic mark-up is all about.


 9:03 am on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Couldn't you have just put a BR within the H1?


 10:05 am on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

<h1> should introduce the page / document.

As Marcia says, its a semantic markup, telling the READER what the page is about.

Now, google also uses <H1> as a signal because of what it's SEMANTIC conotations.

To ignore the pupose of <H1> (semantic markup) and use it as a Google signal only is completely missing the point- and may upset google as deliberate manipulation detracting from clarity for the user.

Write your page for the user, with an eye to what google rates. Do not write for google, ignoring what the user wants.


 10:57 am on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Short rule of thumb:

ONE H1 (page declaration, usually the TITLE) and as many H2 or H3 descriptives for the paragraphs (images) following as it takes to clarify content.


 12:43 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thank you all for your responses.


I could just put a BR tag but I may have a different font size for the headings. Then I would have to have two headings.

Do you think if I have 2 H1 tags and one has a smaller specified font size, then the one with the smaller specified font will carry less weight in the SERP than if I made it as large as the other one?


 12:59 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't believe that font size will effect the SERP value of any <H> tag. I fear that multiple <H1> will dilute the value.


 1:11 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Use H2- that's what it is for.

H1 for main header (title), H2 for sub-headers

As I understand it, you're tying to fit in two H1 tags in order to optimise for two keyword phrases.


Either- put both into one sentence (as per Marcia's "<H1>The Best Way Build Red Widgets is With Machines</H1>" or pick what the page is ACTUALLY about as H1, and the other phrase as H2


 1:35 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

What if Google didn't pay any attention to the containing element?

What if Google uses some sort of other formula for determining the structure of the page? What if they use the order of source as the determining factor?

No one has ever really confirmed that the semantic markup of a page is used in determing what the page is about. The HTML guidelines give us a clear picture of how pages should be marked up but unfortunately the web is not a perfect place. I've seen sites with less than satisfactory semantic markup rank well in competitive SERPs. And vice versa.

We've built a tool that mimics what the crawler, spider, indexer may do. One of the first things is that all HMTL markup is stripped and we are left with blocks of plain text with no containing elements. Is Google really that smart that it can decipher semantics to this degree?

Questions, questions, questions...

Two H1 tags on One Page

I see it all the time. In fact, I've seen multiple <h1>s on a page and it did just fine. I've seen pages without <h> elements do just fine too. I personally would not use more than one <h1> per page as that is what the HTML guidelines suggest.

I look at the page this way...

If I were to put a list at the top of the page that linked to each main section, I'd have an <h1> with an intro thereafter. Then I'd have my <h2>'s with their sub items and I might even have some <h3>'s in the mix. I use the W3 as my stomping grounds for determining page structure. I find that working with a Table of Contents provides me with a clear picture of how the page/site should be laid out semantically.


 2:18 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

From a programmer's point of view, and based on experience with other similar issues, it seems likely that Google will simply pick one <h1> (either the first or the last) and essentially ignore the others in terms of scoring. From a standards compliance point of view, of course, you should only have one <h1>. You can have a multi-line <h1> and control its appearance with CSS, but I think you'd get better results with the <h1>-<h2> hierarchy that others have suggested.


 2:50 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just to throw this out there- could standards compliance itself be a signal? OR is google more concerned with returning the most releavnt content, rather than the technical knowledge of the owner?

To restate my position though, multiple H1s look like an attempt to manipulate google, as if you use it, you should know what it is for. And if you know what it is, you know you should only have one.

P1R, I thought source ordered content was dead as an effective 'trick'. Do you think differently?


 3:20 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

P1R, I thought source ordered content was dead as an effective 'trick'. Do you think differently?

I wouldn't consider it a trick. It is a disciplined structure that I feel provides an overall benefit from a variety of perspectives, not only search.

Over the past couple of years, my team have built a tool that we use to determine the overall health and quality of a page. From the development of that tool, we had to mimic what the bots were doing when traversing a page. It was an eye opener to say the least. The first six months we dealt with various errors due to not taking into consideration certain things. I had no idea what I was getting me team into when I made the request for the tool, none whatsoever!

When that bot indexes your document and strips it of all markup, you are left with this string of text that is space separated. There's a bit to be learned from how that string is constructed. I like to present core content first in the string and then static navigational elements and such afterwards. You would think, in theory, that the content which resides at the beginning of the document is usually the most important. But, that is not the case in most web designs. So, you end up with a string of text that is a bit garbled to say the least. The indexers manage to figure it out but I don't think it is a "clean" indexing. I feel you can exercise a bit more control over what is "considered" important on the page by feeding in the order of importance or Source Ordered Content.

Disclaimer: Of course the above are my personal insights. Many will dispute the above and I completely understand. I've seen the results of SOC and they have always been positive. But, there are many other things being considered in addition to the SOC. It is not just a matter of absolutely positioning elements. There is a place for everything and everything in its place.


 3:59 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

What you guys have written is great. It gives me several ways to consider this.

I think Denisl suggested this and this is something that I was considering for something that I was working on.

Would it be ok to combine the two H1 phrases into one but separate them with a <BR> tag. That way I would have the phrase on two lines, which would be a good fit for some of the things that I am working on, but there would be only one <H1></H1> tag?


 4:36 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I can't see a problem with <br>, and I can't think of a good reason why you couldn't put <font></font> around the broken lines, although it doesn't feel like clean code.


 4:39 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Would it be ok to combine the two H1 phrases into one but separate them with a <BR> tag.

Sure it would. But, does your <h1> really need to be that "wordy"?

That way I would have the phrase on two lines, which would be a good fit for some of the things that I am working on, but there would be only one <H1></H1> tag?

I do this all the time. Sometimes things are tight and I want that <h> element to break at a particular word. I try to keep those <h> elements between 1-7 words.


 5:21 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

For some of them I have to have them a little bit wordy. For those, I wanted to see if it would be ok to use a <BR> tag?

I might have an H1 tag in which I have close to 10 words and for that one, I would have to use <BR>


 5:51 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Using a <br> within an <h1> is OK - and sometimes it really helps the visitor to make the headline more sensible in a quick glimpse.

I've had several discussions with Google engineers about the H1 at various conferences. The gist of their communication is that they will use any relevance signal that is in common practice and relatively free of noise. Back in 2002, H1 was extremely noisy and was not used as anything special beyond the text itself.

The abuse has lessened, the noise has quieted a bit, and H1 has apparently been used for some relevance signals in recent times - but it's very much a secondary or "reinforcing" signal rather than a primary signal of relevance. For example, many organizations use H1 tags for marketing messages rather than true headlines with keywords, so relying strongly on the H1 tag is not currently wise.

Every once in a while, I see evidence in the SERPs of an H2 tag getting some serious pop - for instance, it shows up as a snippet, even though there are other mentions of the query term earlier (and even more frequently) on the page.

So my rule of thumb is to use the H1 - H6 scheme exactly as intended by the W3C. Then whatever changes happen in the Google algo, the pages I built are part of the non-noisy component of the web. At some times it may not help, but it never hurts.

Receptional Andy

 5:58 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's also worth considering if H1 evaluation might be context specific - an H1 duplicated across every page on a site may not be worth looking at. A unique main heading for every page, that reflects page content, is likely to be much more useful.


 6:09 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Good observation, Andy. I have a feeling that sites where H1-H6 structures are used consistently will find that Google trusts this signal a bit more. In other words, Google may be evaluating some kinds of "noise" on a site-by-site basis.

That's just a personal feeling, but it is formed by working with a lot of sites. Those businesses who have the discipline to use H1-H6 correctly also seem to do better altogether in search. It could be just that the business discipline involved extends across many important factors, and the cumulative effect is what I'm noticing.

Receptional Andy

 6:27 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

And to tie that back to the question of multiple H1s - multiple H1s are a misuse of headings - so it would be logical for this to make both less likely to be evaluated. IMO you'd be more likely to get half the benefit than twice as much ;)


 6:48 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Then if I am using the H1 tag twice I think I have to find a way to combine the statements, maybe with the use of a <BR> tag so I have one H1 tag and get the full benefit of the H1 tag in the SERP.


 7:09 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Probably not. You cannot understand the Google algo as if it was a "2 points for this, 3 points for that" kind of addition. That's way too simplistic..

Just create an H1 tag that describes your page's topic as concisely as possible and move on. Do not try to stuff keywords.


 7:18 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I hear what you are saying. I'll create an H1 tag that is concise and describes what the page is about. But is it ok if I include a <BR> tag for some of them?

The reason I ask is the template. Where I would put the heading I can't fit the whole thing on one line and where it will start on the next line is not where I would like it to break up.

I'd rather break it up where it will flow well.


 7:29 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

You can give h1 and h2 tags the exact same styles so they look the same but use different tags.


 7:33 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

That is true but I would like to put the entire phrase in one tag. Both phrases in what I am doing are of equal importance, that's why I want to find a way to put it in the H1 heading.


 7:37 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sounds like you might need two different pages, then. Have you considered that approach?


 8:28 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

With this, it is more like the two phrases are being used to give an accurate description of what the page is about but that is a good suggestion that you made.

What I think I have to consider is having one H1 tag and to include a <BR> tag inside the H1 tag and also to have two font tags inside the H1 tag if the second line is going to be smaller than the first line. If I can make both lines the same size then I will only need the <BR> tag inside the H1 and one font tag.

Does this sound like a good way to combine the phrases?

I think this will be ok in terms of the search engines reading it?


 8:40 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

You can also include a <span> tag within the H1, if you want to change the style of part of the text. That would be better than using <font> which is deprecated.

Receptional Andy

 8:48 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Code-wise you could even eliminate the need for a <br> with CSS. One example:

<h1>A main heading - <span style="display:block;">this text will be on a newline</span></h1>

IMO, this would help keep the presentational aspects separate from the HTML.

This 70 message thread spans 3 pages: 70 ( [1] 2 3 > >
Global Options:
 top home search open messages active posts  

Home / Forums Index / Google / Google SEO News and Discussion
rss feed

All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
© Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved