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H1 tags, are they needed?
Does your page have a title? Meaning? A subject?
Then yes, they are necessary. Don't do it for the sake of valid code, *cough*, if not for the search engines ;-]
Give them something to get some sort of meaning from...
The W3C's Extended Validation Service [validator.w3.org] has an option to Show Outline for a given URI.
IMHO, that outline should look like a proper document outline. Remember that spiders aren't human; they're programs, and they expect the "perfect page" to be in a particular format. The closer you can get to that "perfect page", the better.
If I were a search engine, I would give more weight to properly structured documents than non-proper ones. But that's just me.
Ref: W3C Draft: Beyond Validation [w3.org]
tankman: You're looking for the padding-bottom and margin-bottom attributes.
I was limiting my answer to his question: "is </h1> tags needed for SEO?"
The answer to which is no. To expand on the answer I would add that it's naive to put together a recipe for what makes a well seo-ed web page. We all know the drill: H1, H2, <b>, <i> etc. but all of that will not guarantee you a spot at the table.
Remember that spiders aren't human; they're programs, and they expect the "perfect page" to be in a particular format. The closer you can get to that "perfect page", the better.
We *think* that that's what they are looking for. It's certainly not an unreasonable assumption, and it's a good ideal to aim for, I know I do.
But let's face it: Not all web pages will fit into that template. So you have to work with what you have.
Keeping to the topic of what is good for SEO:
I look at the serps now and then to get a pulse on what's ringing bells, and I've never seen W3C approved web pages dominating the serps.
[edited by: martinibuster at 9:47 pm (utc) on Feb. 17, 2004]
I've never seen W3C approved web pages dominating the serps
All of my clients pages, and 'my' page. Though not super super competitive, we were and still are beating spammers, doorway pages and redirects. We didn't get bumped an inch by any of the latest updates - in fact we're a year at number one now, and we validate and use properly structure sematically-as-good-as-I-can markup.
I'm not tooting here - this means something.
And bakedjake, I wholeheartedly agree with you here - and GG confirmed things a bit in the update thread, no? They are trying to understand your document.
The engines didn't give more weight to h1's cuase they're ugly and no one used them - they did it because they have meaning. Same with everything else.
Very important: Semantics does not equal valid code
[edited by: mipapage at 12:49 am (utc) on Feb. 18, 2004]
I kind of see <h> tags as a sledge hammer to crack a nut.
From the specs [w3.org]:
"A heading element briefly describes the topic of the section it introduces. Heading information may be used by user agents, for example, to construct a table of contents for a document automatically."
Think of it as using a tool for what it was intended.
This is the only industry I have ever been in where specifications, I mean standards, are an option. It's nutz!
[edited by: mipapage at 12:50 am (utc) on Feb. 18, 2004]
can you give me the css code to remove the space?
tankman - I'm not a CSS expert, but here's my take.... Removing the space involves the margin-bottom property, and it gets tricky because of something called "collapsing margins" and the different treatments of these in different browsers. You may end up using "negative margins," also treated differently in different browsers, and these can get very messy.
There's a good description of these in Eric Meyer's excellent book, "Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide," published by O'Reilly, He also has a site, but I forget how much he gives away for free.
Due to the cross-browser issue, I've ended up putting the vertical space back in where I had eliminated it. It's just too much hassle otherwise. Check the CSS forum, and do a site search on these terms and on CSS headings, CSS H1, etc.
As for the other part of the topic, if the design is really getting screwed up, give it a shot with <b> tags instead of <h1>. There are lots of sites that rank well without <h1>s, but I tend to use the headings when I can, and to keep my pages in that kind of outline structure that h1, h2, etc suggest.
Hey, good idea, lets get OT!
Add this: margin-bottom:0;padding-bottom:0
You can play with that space by replacing 0 for a number and a unit, like pixels, for example.
You shouldn't have to go into using -ve margins for this...
I usually create a special class of paragraph called "follow" for this purpose:
There is no space between the two. In reality, I actually like about 4 px in between.