Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.146.41.3

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & andy langton & goodroi

Does Matching Title & H1 Trigger Google Overoptimization Penalty?

     
3:53 pm on Jan 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 23, 2015
posts:154
votes: 48


Hi guys,

Just bringing this topic up again, because it has changed over the years, possibly.

When Page Title = H1, can this result in Google overoptimization Penalty?

Another words, is this "keyword stuffing" according to Panda?

And can this trigger Penguin Filter as well, because once your page is scanned by spammer bots, it'll get links with your title = KeyWords , which will trigger "too many keyword links" - Penguin penalty?

Obviously, a number of software programs, like blogs and Wordpress do it. But question remains.

Let's discuss, what any of you think.

Previous discussions 5+ years back were all ok on this. But in site of animal updates, I don't think are valid:
[webmasterworld.com...]
[webmasterworld.com...]
7:56 pm on Jan 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 9, 2011
posts:13599
votes: 412


Rhetorical question: why would g### penalize something that's useful to humans? (“Lessee now, which tab was the page with a question about matching h1 blahblah? Oh, here it is; it's got the same title.”)
8:04 pm on Jan 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 23, 2015
posts:154
votes: 48


@lucy24, this page is not a very good example.

I'll explain. Webmasterworld has probably hundreds of thousands of links (millions?), being this old and an authority site.
When spammers scrape it and auto-generate pages on their spam sites with links being automatically created titles, such is a title of this page, WebmasterWorld having such a strong link profile could care less about it.

However, when a widget site has a page that was scraped, and it has only a few thousand links (as any small business site would), a page gets linked from a few spammer auto generated pages and it sinks, "because of bad links". That is a fact since 2013 Google Animal Farm.
8:43 pm on Jan 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 13, 2002
posts:14447
votes: 311


There isn't a penalty for over optimization. Yes, there are statistical patterns that are signals that a site might be spamming, but that was something that was noticed back in the early days.

A site is spammy (like keyword stuffed) or it's not spammy (not keyword stuffed) and the stuffing might have more to do with user experience because the number of times a keyword is on the page doesn't help a site rank better so it's not anything Google wants to deflate for ranking purposes (because it doesn't help a site rank anyway) but for user experience reasons.
10:03 pm on Jan 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Feb 1, 2006
posts:261
votes: 0


i think it's a good question from Lucy24
2:44 am on Jan 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member editorialguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 28, 2013
posts:2853
votes: 464


Why would there be an overoptimization penalty?

If a page is about aardvarks, the Battle of the Bulge, or the new Widgetco WC-1 Router, it makes perfect sense for the title and the headline to read "Aardvarks," "Battle of the Bulge," or "Widgetco WC-1 Router."

On the other hand, if the phrase appears 50 times in the space of 500 words, that might look a bit unnatural.
3:49 am on Jan 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:June 2, 2006
posts:2169
votes: 4


I believe that the recommendation for titles and H tags (especially H1) has often been to differentiate them somewhat, not because of any sort of penalty but simply to use the opportunity of 2 places that count.
By doing this you would make your doubt disappear anyway, plus you would say more than if you copy/paste.
5:59 am on Jan 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 26, 2001
posts:7992
votes: 284



The H1 is a content heading. The page Title is a page heading.

Sometimes they are relatively the same so I reword (synonyms) the H1 so not to waste another oppertunity for relevance.

But sometimes (depending on each page) the content discusses more than what the page Title represents, but still relevant. This is where more diverse H1, H2, etc wording can play an important role.
9:03 am on Jan 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

joined:Aug 11, 2008
posts:1343
votes: 121


There's a big gap between "not penalised" and "best practice" - matching H1 & Title may not always be best practice, but it is not going to get you penalised.

Having them both keyword-stuffed (matching or not) is much more likely to be a problem.

As others have noted, it's best to aim for contextual relevance and not worry about too much about "optimisation". Google aims to measure, with generally improving success, "what's best for humans" - so do that too. Humans tend to like a heading that introduces the content, and a page title that captures what the page is about/for - which is often the same thing.

Synonyms are worth considering, but I would avoid using if it reduces clarity to humans.
8:06 pm on Jan 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member editorialguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 28, 2013
posts:2853
votes: 464


By doing this you would make your doubt disappear anyway, plus you would say more than if you copy/paste.

It isn't a matter of copying and pasting. Sometimes, it makes sense for the title and main head to be identical, and sometimes it doesn't.

In an encyclopedia, for example, an entry about the Battle of Hastings is likely to be called "Battle of Hastings." (In fact, I looked up the Encyclopedia Britannica's entry for the Battle of Hastings just now, and sure enough, the page title was Battle of Hastings | Britannica.com" and the headline was "Battle of Hastings. No surprise there.)

In a news story, on the other hand, the title might be "Battle of Hastings - Hastings Daily Clarion," while the headline might be "Norman conquest hinges on Battle of Hastings outcome." Different media, different conventions.
6:43 am on Jan 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from LK 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 16, 2005
posts:2626
votes: 75


What do we mean by the same,

In @EditorialGuy's example the page title is the headline plus site name. That is common and useful. What is less common is for the two to be identical and I think that is what may be less than optimal.
7:29 pm on Jan 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:7309
votes: 469


Not sure there's a problem as the TITLE is what appears in the browser's title bar and H1 is generally the "title" of the page within the page. These can be identical with no ill as they serve two different semantic purposes.

When HTML was invented there was a failure to identify the actual title of the PAGE as TITLE and we have learned to live with it.
8:10 pm on Jan 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member editorialguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 28, 2013
posts:2853
votes: 464


What Tangor said. To complicate matters, the title isn't necessarily displayed by the browser these days. It's useful mostly as a teaser in search results. (Unfortunately, too many titles are written by SEOs who worry about rankings at the expense of clickthroughs.)
9:16 am on Jan 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

New User from GB 

joined:Jan 6, 2017
posts:1
votes: 2


For me it is more about missing an opportunity to leverage the unique value of each both for the user, but also for potential SEO gains too.

With spoken/voice search, the growth of AI and RankBrain, plus the huge scope to match user/search intent through key elements like the title tag and h1 tag, I would want to make them unique in most instances.

I would very much doubt any penalty through over-optimisation would come from this as some CMS force this to happen.

The key here is not getting full value from distinct optimisation items that have different purposes in many occasions.
1:26 am on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 23, 2015
posts:154
votes: 48


>> @Shaddows: There's a big gap between "not penalised" and "best practice" - matching H1 & Title may not always be best practice, but it is not going to get you penalised.

More than 10 of my sites, and several very prominent SEO tools beg to differ. Several very prominent SEO tools are now showing an overoptimization error if H1 and Title tags are the same.

Hence this thread.
8:45 am on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

joined:Aug 11, 2008
posts:1343
votes: 121


very prominent SEO tools
Yeah, tools don't really work. They were predicated on "rules" that have not been true for a very, very long time.

Google is not running a ranking competition, whereby the cleverest optimisers win as long as they don't get caught breaking ill-defined rules. All tools, and many webmasters, work on the premise that this is exactly what google is / should be doing.

Google doesn't strictly care about your attempts at optimisation. What they care about is returning the best results for a query (as modified by Google's assumptions about the user - AKA query intent). SEO tools ignore this, and treat everything like a ranking competition. Using them is not likely to give you actionable information on improving your site, although they may stop a newbie from making horrific mistakes.

In general, hard penalties no longer exist, except for extreme manipulation (which typically cannot be an oversight, or otherwise "by accident").

Conceptually, my experience of Google and optimisation has changed over the last few years- as Panda, Penguin RankBrain propagated through the index and matured. I'm sure it did not really work like this, but in the early Panda days it was as if Google did one pass of the index to find the sites that appeared to satisfy the query, using the secret-sauce algo. Then it did a second pass of that subset for evidence of manipulation, using signatures or pattern matching from known manipulators, and deducted points for pattern-matches. This caused a number of consequences, including that professional SEOs got hit, because they all used the same conventional wisdom about "making a site rank".

These days, it seems more like "tricks" do not work- which could be either they get detected at indexation and so do not ever give you a boost to start with, or that the second-pass anti-manipulation process is better calibrated.

I'm rambling so will just conclude; H1-Title matches are the sort of easy win that purveyors of FUD can use to convince you that they know what they are taking about. Their product needs to have a perceived value, or they will cease to exist. A large percentage of UGC sites will have matching H1-title with no ill effects. A reasonable percentage of CMS tools will do the same by default. Many times, hand-crafted pages will naturally match. All of these cases are valid examples of why a blacket "penalty" would be ludicrous.

Put the SEO tools away!
2:47 pm on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3100
votes: 210


For me it is more about missing an opportunity to leverage the unique value of each both for the user, but also for potential SEO gains too.

Possibly there are some small "potential SEO gains" in some cases. But in my opinion you need to balance this "potential gain" against the possibility of creating a poor user experience.

For example, suppose a searcher sees "Antique Widgets" as the page title in the google's search results, and that's exactly what they're looking for, so they click that entry. They're expecting to see "Antique Widgets" at the top of the landing page. If they see something else, it could raise questions in their mind. It could create a bad initial impression of your site.

So in my view you need to take the user experience into account when you choose the H1 title.
2:58 pm on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

joined:Aug 11, 2008
posts:1343
votes: 121


But if the H1 was
"Widgets of the 19th Century" - that would be a reasonable case of diversity. It's a good example, because "Antique Widgets" doesn't make a compelling headline to my eyes anyway.

Diversity doesn't mean they can be unrelated.

I mean, no one is advocating "Antique Widgets" Vs "10 ways modern widgets will make your skin crawl"
4:09 pm on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 4, 2008
posts:3100
votes: 210


Shaddows -- I understand your point and agree that sometimes a different H1 can make sense. But your counter-example is rather extreme.

In addition, "Widgets of the 19th Century" could be misleading if your site also covers widgets from earlier centuries, especially if the searcher is interested in those earlier centuries.

All I'm saying is that you need to take account of the visitor's likely reaction in choosing an H1 tag,
4:54 pm on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

joined:Aug 11, 2008
posts:1343
votes: 121


@aristotle, sorry for the flippant example, I was just making the point that flagrant mismatching wasn't at issue.

I agree that searcher reactions are important, and you don't want to mis-represent the page through either its title or H1.

Essentially, there is no need to either enforce a match, or avoid one.
8:28 pm on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:7309
votes: 469


As the title is one thing and h1 is another, I can see the title being modified (but not essentially changed) from the h1

title: Widget of Dreams - example.com
h1 The Ultimate Widget of Dreams: An Annotated History

Why? Title is limited real estate and often contains site info (url, domain name, etc). Any such "edit" of the h1 for title use should not impair the search query as both title and h1 can be factors in a successful search by the user. I see this as similar yet match, or match but slightly different.

There's nothing wrong with having exact match for title and h1, they serve two different purposes FOR THE SAME ARTICLE. It is highly unlikely this will trigger an SEO over-optimization penalty.
11:02 pm on Jan 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 23, 2015
posts:154
votes: 48


@tangor and others.

I stopped responding because I have data and you guys are guessing.

Ok. Here's an example.
Site: GreenWidgets.com
Money KW (this is Keyword identified by G that if you have links back you are a spammer): green widgets.
Page: greenwidgets.com/about-green-widgets.html.
Page title and h1: About Green Widgets.

So far, naturally, everything is how it will be generated by ANYBODY who's building site about Green Widgets.
Now.
that page's "money" KW is "about green widgets". It is in title , in h1, in page URL and in links, because how else one would NATURALLY link to that page? other than "about green widgets".

Boom. You are out of Google, you nasty spammer, for KW over-optimization.

Try it. It is absurd but that's where G is right now.
11:49 pm on Jan 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:7309
votes: 469


On two sites, three years back, I stopped using title for anything (ie, it is blank). Both sites rank well for the h1 and the CONTENT of the page(s), so I'm pretty sure title is no longer critical for SEO. YMMV
7:25 am on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 15, 2003
posts:939
votes: 25


I think its more likely that when no valid <title> is found, Google looks for other mark-up like the <h1> tag or the first sentence/paragraph of content and uses that for ranking in place of the <title>. After all, they want to show good quality pages in the SERPs so they're not going to de-rank a page for something that could just be a temporary software error or an oversight on the part of the webmaster.
10:14 am on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from NL 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 25, 2005
posts:1384
votes: 157


I have (and see) lots of pages, both editorial and user-generated, where the title and H1 are an exact match. They rank just fine. Case closed.
4:42 pm on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 23, 2015
posts:154
votes: 48


@robzilla, as I said, case is different for the following selected by Google group: big sites , whitelisted by Google, sites with large link profile. Versus anybody else.

If you have an ecommerce, a small business, a not extremely popular blog etc. etc. then that "spammer" calculation applies to you.

There's also very strong difference whether you are ranking for valid "money" keywords or not. In competitive niches, spammers auto generate pages on their websites scraping top 10 from Google. If you are anywhere in top 10 for "about green widgets", you are scraped, those links will point to you and you'll be LOCALLY penalized. Unless you fall under those 3 categories above.

Just because you don't know it doesn't mean it isn't there.
4:53 pm on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 23, 2015
posts:154
votes: 48


This is also producing an effect of a small business website seemingly going up after significant work effort , then going down in a month or two. Up-down-up-down roller coaster.

This is Google algo playing whack-a-mole with the site.

Whack, whack, whack, whack, whack, boom a hit! A-a-a-aand it's gone!

Hundreds of ways to penalize an online business out of business those days.
8:32 pm on Jan 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

joined:Aug 11, 2008
posts:1343
votes: 121


Scenario 1- site agnostic sorting

Site launch
Indexation
Provisional document scoring
Queue for testing
Test cycle
>Promoted positioning to validate traffic interaction
> Update doc score with user scores
> Compare with prime-time sites
> Queue for testing

Always remembering that other sites are getting queued and need their own test time, and existing sites have inherent usability bias cos people are already looking for that site. Chance of sticking is low.

Scenario 2 - Whack a mole
Site launch
Indexation
Spectacular ranking for inexplicable reason
Add to whack list
Whack cycle
>Person (?) intervenes
>Re-scores doc on secret system
>Forgets to tick the "keep score forever" box
>Page floats to surface
>Add to whack list

What I don't get is why Google removed the minus 950? Surely it would mean whack-once-and-forget. Much more efficient.
2:10 pm on Feb 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Aug 10, 2016
posts: 16
votes: 3


What I do is identify what the "root keyword" of the page is. For example, let's use "Ramen Noodles".

In the Title, I'm inclined to lead with my root keyword, something like "Ramen Noodles Are Bad For You Because of High Sodium".

However, in the H1, I use my root keyword, but I would want some differentiation. "Ramen Noodles: High in Sodium and Shame".

But at the end of the day, I would think it is based on the site type and niche. If it is a Popular "News" site stating "Brangelina Adopts Another Baby", I would expect the Title and H1 both to be the same. If its a Music Store stating a product like "Korg Krome 88 Key Keyboard Workstation", I would expect the same. I just make a conscious effort when I can to have some sort of variance.
7:32 pm on Feb 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 25, 2002
posts:8463
votes: 219


A little common sense here:

1. Whereas, Wordpress now powers over 25% of all websites

2. Whereas a default install of Wordpress always results in the H1 and the <title> being the same for every post and page

3. Whereas the only time this changes is if someone installs an SEO plugin that lets them optimize the H1 and <title> separately

4. Whereas this is the same for many other platforms in their default install (Drupal for example and I think most "sitebuilder" platforms like Weebly and Squarespace).

5. Let it be known that Google will not in your wildest dreams see a default install of the most popular website platforms in the world as manipulative. If Google did have penalties for overoptimization, it would logically be for websites where the H1 and the <title> are different.

6. Let it be further known that overoptimization is an irksome term. If I am adjusting a carburetor that is running too rich and I make it run too lean, the engine is not "overtuned," it's running poorly.

This to me is like the assertion that was common some years ago that Google would penalize your site if it had HTML validation errors. Since most sites on the web have validation errors, that would make no sense to have that be an explicit part of the algo. That said, if your HTML was so messed up that Google couldn't parse (this was back before the crawler was a headless browser), then of course that could hurt. But that wasn't a validation failure penalty.
This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33
 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members