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To H or not to H - that is the question

     
8:26 am on Aug 5, 2000 (gmt 0)

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What are your thoughts on having more than one heading (<h*>) tag per page and whether keywords should be used in them, how they should be used, and how often.

Would appreciate if anyone could break this down per SE

1:45 pm on Aug 5, 2000 (gmt 0)

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>Would appreciate if anyone could break this down per SE

So would I newbe, so would I ;)

H tags certainly play a part in algo's of the majority of SE's and so must be a part of your armoury.

My best advice is to find pages that rank well on mid-range competitive keywords/phrases, yet are obviously unoptimized. Analyse these types of pages.

Take a look at this page [cpsc.gov] which ranks No 1 at Google for window blinds.

Good luck.

Edited by: NFFC

3:12 pm on Aug 5, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Brett recently reported on some Google research he did. As I remember, it showed keywords in the H2 tags helped with Goo, but not in the H1 tags.

I've never heard anything about more than one H tag on a page either helping or hurting. I would also love some input on this, since I like to define the look of H tags in a css file and then go with the easy, consistent page formatting that permits. I've never seen evidence of a problem, but evidence can be lost in the "noise".

6:26 am on Aug 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Thanks guys.

What I really wanted to know was if anyone had experience of what happens when you use multiple, say h4 headings, stuffed with your keywords. And whether you can repeat keywords amongst the different headings as you can in the meta tags keywords area.

6:52 am on Aug 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

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My current idea is to use H tags in as "natural" a fashion as possible. That is, real heads and sub-heads that are appropriate to the page copy. And within that framework, I make sure they include keywords. But I always try to think of the visitor first and the SE second.

A few months back I tried some experiments with keyword stuffing (well, spamming) for both H1 and H2 tags -- it got me no positive results and no penalties I could see, either. I don't usually try to spam, but the temptation was too hard to resist, once I realized that I could use css to make even an H1 tag into a really small font.

Right now, I'm assuming that any SE which writes H tags into their algo is assuming they are used in a standard way -- such as on the "window blinds" page. So even when I make the font size small, I keep the length of the tag to 12 words max, and then plug major kw's into H1 and H2 tags, and secondary ones into the smaller tags. I've also given up on using H tags in page footers and other obscure spots. It didn't seem to make any difference at all.

7:12 am on Aug 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Tedster.

Have you ever tried / monitored what effect using only 1 heading over say using 5 has on different engines? Given that if you use 5, you may want to make them natural (ie not repetitious?).

12:07 pm on Aug 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

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No, I've never tested the effect of one H tag versus 5. I have some pages with a single H tag and others with lots. On the whole, the single tag pages are doing better, but probably because they also have less total text. They also compete on just a few kw's.

I also have a whole site that is doing pretty well in a competitive field with no H tags at all. So, obviously they are only one tool we can use, not something that is required for good rank. I only started playing with H tags a couple months ago, so the jury is still out for me, I'd say.

To have a good test, I think I'd have to use two identical pages, with only the H tags being different. That would be the only way to isolate the effect, if any, of the tags from other elements.

Given the growing mood at the engines against dupes, I don't think I'm going to try that ... I don't have a page I can afford to sacrifice.

Can you think of another way to test?

2:57 pm on Aug 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

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They say variety is the spice of life. It is true with search engines too. Everything in moderation.

One month se's will like h1's, the next month it wants h2's or h3's. I use them and the other h's in a variety of ways. Recently google took a liking to h4's. It moves around like that all the time.

3:26 pm on Aug 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Do they ever NOT like <H's>? In other words, can it be better to ommit them?
1:53 am on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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When using the "h" tags, they create SUCH a big font. Is there anyway you can control the physical size of an "h1" word, but have it look like a font size of 12?


For example, instead of this:

< h1 > < center > Webmaster World < /center > < h1 >

could you do this?:

< h1 > < center > < font size=2 > Webmaster World < /font > < /center > < h1 >


(I'm using spaces because I'm not sure if this program will create actual HTML). This is really key in my web page design.

Edited by: Bradley

2:22 am on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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I used to work on a theory of hierarchy. Basically the tags ran in order with H1 being the highest ranked and H6 being the lowest. My theory is (or was) that the ranking was somewhat relative. The SE would look for the H tags and if there were multiple tags, say H3-H5-H6, it would rank them relative to each other and give the H3 tag the highest priority followed by H5 then H6. The same would go for any combo of tags.

Like I say - just a theory and I haven't had time to test it recently.

3:21 am on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Oilman:

Any thoughts on using the "font" tag to decrease the actual size of the word. An H2 word is rather large in size, so is there a way to decrease its size, but still keep its search engine value?

3:23 am on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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I don't think you can get to far with that Bradley, they like large sizes on Font tags too.
3:33 am on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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How about using an external .css file to define the appearance of your H tags? The line of code would look something like:

H2{font-size:12pt; color:#112100}

You can define the appearance any way you choose, even with a normal font-weight instead of bold. All that shows on your HTML page is a very straight forward looking set of H tags.

I've been doing this for a while, and it seems to work pretty well. It helps me get some clout for pages that used to be ignored, without blowing the aesthetic the client wants to see.

Just for insurance I place my .css files in a directory that robots.txt disallows, but even before I did that, I never had a spider ask for a css file.

5:17 am on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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External I do a little of too, but class embedded I stay away. Who is to say they won't just discount the whole tag if they run into a style setting in a h tag.
6:44 am on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Guys!

It sort of confirms (I think) what I thought (to be sure - no Irish punn intended).

But what of this putting .css files outside relative to the suggestion Tedster made ( H2{font-size:12pt; color:#112100} )?

8:13 am on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure if you are asking how to create external .css files or something else.

CSS can be a complex study, complete with lots of quirky browser support to test through, and so on. The HTML Writer's Guild [hwg.org] has a pretty good FAQ on their site, if you run into coding questions.

Here and there on the web different people have collected lists of bugs and quirky support for various features of CSS, but I haven't found any one authoritative source for bugs and workarounds so far.

1:11 pm on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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I'm just asking why I would need to mess with css files if I defined the font as you specified?
3:53 pm on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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If you create an inline style, the H tag is not straightforward any more, and the SE algorithm might not give extra weight to the keywords in it.

5:01 pm on Aug 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

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gotcha
Thanks
11:36 pm on Aug 14, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Too date, no one has seen a search engine download an external css file. There have been a couple of scares, but those turned out to be actual humans searching from search engines. As long as they download the css file, we are safe I think.