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1) Is it okay to include a <br> tag?
(ie. <h1>Blue Widgets<br>Red Widgets</h1>
2) Is it okay to include a keyword twice in the H1...or will Google penalize this?
(ie. <h1>Blue Widget and Blue Widget Reviews</h1>
I am looking at this from a SEO point of view.
Then have h2's with sentences, like
<h2>information about key phrase</h2>... you can have more h2's , also get some related words in h2.
This works better and looks good from visitor's point of view also. consider Google to be another visitor who is interested in what other visitors want.
I haven't changed anything else, so I am pretty sure it was the h1 - tags
(Sorry for format, not sure how to quote people so you get funky blue box!)
Surely you can have more than one H1 tag in a document? Only one doc *title* yes, but several H1 tags. Imagine a word doc with title "Biographies of recent presidents", with each president having his own H1 tag, then several H2's for different life stages...okay, apologies for the odd example, but you can see the point!
So, in which case, are we saying a)Google definitely only likes one instance of H1 tag or b)Google likes hierarchical document structure, and lots of H1 tags is not normal, so better to just use one...but 2 or 3 could be okay...
I'm asking what Google thinks about using CSS on H1 tags (it used to be a no-no).
A no-no? That doesn't match my experience. I use external CSS to style everything I can think of, including H1 tags. If you're styling your Hx tags in the context of a well-structured document (as others have described in this thread), it won't cause any problems.
Second, Google keeps track of some visual presentation details such as font size of words. Words in a larger or bolder font are weighted higher than other words.
I would say this is referring to h and b tags, possible though probably not <font size="large">.
I would suspect this system hasn't changed significantly, and the use of h1 tags is simply coming down to having a bold/large font value item first thing above the content, which carries a standard text content value. This would be easy to verify empirically by simply switching h1 for h6 while leaving the structure the same, and see if it makes any long term difference, which I suspect it wouldn't. Or, even better, try making a header like this: <font size=large><b>Key Words</b></font> as a test, if it gets the same results, you would be able to guess that that particular component of the google algorhythm has not been significantly altered.
My guess is that the css styling of any tag is completely irrelevant to a search engine, not out of compliance with the W3C, but out of simple efficiency, applying cosmetic styling to the search data would be too resource intensive I believe, with no real search payoff to speak of. This might change in the future as cloakers start using display:none for example excessively.
Thinking web standards and search engines have anything to do with each other is I think just wishful thinking, search engines are approaching the web as it actually exists, error filled table based sites, and indexing them fine. What will mess you up is image based links, but that's just because search engines prefer text, it's easy to see that the basics haven't changed that much, title/links are most important, headers have a bit more value than standard text, that would account for one of the posters going from page 2 to 1 for example when adding a header with the keyword.
From the results I've been seing on google, if anything I'd say they are looking at less, not more, of a webpage's structure than they were before, though that is just a guess, but there has to be something that accounts for the decline in search quality.
<font face="Verdana" size="+3" color="#6600cc"><b>Key word phrase 1</b><br>Key word phrase 2</font>
That's the header of the page, page is key word phrase 2 packed, almost no content, just a submit form with about 2 small paragraphs of keyword stuffed text.
The keywords phrases in the 'content' are in <b> tags. This is almost all the content the page has.
Number one site is a directory, total spam directory. Whatever google is doing right now is clearly very easy to manipulate if you understand the basic idea behind it, which is most definitely not improving the serps.
Number 4 has this html:
<font face="Times New Roman" size="6" color="#009999"><em><b>Keyword phrase 2 and</b></em><br></font>
<font face="Times New Roman" size="6" color="330066"><b>Key word phrase 3</b> </font>
Keyword phrase 2 is two words, keyword phrase 3 is 3 words, keyword phrase 1 is two words.
I could keep going through the sites, serp 3 was a reasonably legitimate return, from a real megasite.
I'm asking what Google thinks about using CSS on H1 tags (it used to be a no-no).
Well, and I've answered :-) In my opinion, Google thinks about using CSS on H# tags nothing special and styling H# tags via CSS never used to be no-no, provided it was done according to W3C spec and with user experience in mind. Of course, you may get into problems, if you e.g. hide H1 via CSS just to get an advantage in Google, without any benefit for users. But you can't be penalized for proper use of CSS.
Although I haven't a 100% valid proof for my opinion, I use the CSS styled H# tags in all my projects (and there are about 50 of them) without any recognizable negative effects.
I don't know if G differs because I haven't really studied it closely. All I am saying is that commercially it is more important to keep Google happy than W3C.
I agree. In fact, keeping W3C happy has no direct value. However, separating content structure and visual formatting via CSS has significant value for project maintanance. If you do it properly, you may save some time or budget for SEO. That's all :-)
What Google does care about is your percentage of headings to normal body text (or at least it should... looks like isitreal has found Google doesn't care anymore). If your whole page is heading one (i.e. very important), then nothing is important...
Google doesn't care anymore
I think it would be more accurate to say that Google has not changed this part of its algorythm. It's not so much a question of caring or not caring, but of simply using very basic categories to determine what kind of data a webpage contains, title, link, larg/header/bold text, standard text.
As tedster noted in this thread [webmasterworld.com]
The major issue with SEO is not that your mark-up is letter perfect, but that you've avoided actual errors
The sites I found, another of which, number 5 or 6, did use an H1 tag, did not have these kinds of structural errors, although they are using 'deprecated' tags.
One interesting thing in reading the google docs is that it's fairly obvious that all html, as long as it doesn't have actual errors like forgetting to close a <font size=7>header tag, is treated as exactly what it is, markup language with very little semantic value.
Since there are billions of pages with tables, with font tags, with deprecated attributes, no search engine that wants to be a major player in this market is going to pay much attention to the finer points of how you decide to mark something up, it would be far too complicated, you would need 8-10 different categories if you actually gave h1 greater value than say em or font size=large or h6, and most of the pages in the world do not use this stuff 'correctly' anyway.
What Google is obviously doing is fine tuning how it's treating the content, the relationships between title, large/bold text versus content text, keyword counts etc. This makes sense to me, since it's much easier to change formulas on how to handle relationships between data than it is to change how the data itself is processed and categorized.
Of course, you may get into problems, if you e.g. hide H1 via CSS just to get an advantage in Google
This is what makes me suspect that Google will have to start reading and processing CSS files at some point in the future, but that seems like a really big step to take, it would have to look for so many possibilities, like visibility, display, background-color, color, position relative to content etc, that's some fairly serious analysis compared to what it looks like it's doing now, only reading the hardcoded stuff directly around the keywords.
What Google does care about is your percentage of headings to normal body text
I couldn't see much relationship there, seems like there are so many other factors to take into account, backlinks, page rank etc. but I'm going to need to see what is happening since a big group of sites I do were wiped out in the series of updates, which they deserved to be of course.
The experiments done by djgreg are most interesting, since he could actually see the movement based on only one change, which suggest that, all things being equal, these large text modifications can be what gets you where you need to be if everything else is good.