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Header tag structure

     
11:02 am on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have a site that I'm developing that has a two column structure:

left column that contains navigation and calls to action
right column that contains the main page content

I'm having a few issues with the positioning of H1, H2 and H3 tags due to this structure.

The titles in the left column are important so I've given them a H2 tag and then the page title (in the right column) a H1 tag. The main column also consists of other sub headings so I've given them H2 and H3 tags accordingly.

I've just viewed the document outline using the Chrome Web Developer plugin and it comes back with this:

<h1>[Missing heading]
<h2>Find your perfect place
<h2>The show home now open
<h1>Show home now open
<h2>Sub heading
<h3>Sub sub heading

Now the problem, I'm presuming, is that Google will read from left to right on the page and therefore it's finding the less important left column content first before the actual main page title in the right column and so it's saying there's a missing H1 tag.

Is there any way around this?

Any help would be very much appreciated.
1:06 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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googlebot reads code from top to bottom and does not look at pages like humans do. it is best to place your important stuff towards the top of your code.

as for heading tags: many, many years ago google placed alot of importance on h1 tags. then webmasters realized this so they started to keyword stuff h1 tags. google quickly realized h1 tags were no longer an accurate signal. so google placed less importance on h1 tags and started looking at h2. guess what? that also got abused and thus eventually got devalued. there still is value so you should use them but dont worry too much because they are not as valuable as they used to be.
1:08 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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google reads the page from top to bottom of the code (although supposedly there is a move towards 'looking' at the page layout and considering that too.

you need to look into absolute positioning in order to write the content before the nav area in the code.
alternatively use the html5 <nav> to designate a nav area, i imagine google will take it into consideration at some point soon if they are not already - in any case it does no harm to use it
2:59 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your help on this - much appreciated
3:13 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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In additional to comments above, from a semantic point of view, there should be only ONE (1) h1 tag on any page.... it is considered the "page title", ie. THE HEAD.
3:21 pm on Dec 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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In HTML5, there can be an unlimited number of H1 tags - one per "section" as the title of that section. So the old rule-of-thumb is changing. reference [w3.org]