Where search engine optimization is concerned, content is king. You’ve doubtless heard that mantra repeated time and again on the web. Granted, it is largely true.
All the technical tweaks in the world mean nothing if your website offers nothing of value to visitors.
That doesn’t mean technical SEO has lost its importance. Google’s focus on how well websites fit a user’s needs actually makes on-page optimization more important than ever. Nowhere is this more evident than with header and title tags.
These two HTML elements core to how search engine robots crawl your website. More importantly, they have a great deal of influence on how people browse and experience your content. I’ll demonstrate.
A title tag is essentially the headline of a webpage – a summary of the core idea that page is intended to serve. They’re displayed as clickable results on Google’s Search Engine Results Page, along with your meta description (which we’ll discuss in a later piece). It tells the user, at a glance, what to expect from a particular piece of digital content.
The ideal title tag is unique, includes the keyword or keyphrase your page is intended to target, and should generally be 60 characters or less. Some title tags also include your brand name and a secondary keyword.
The H1 Tag
Header tags don’t generally show up on the SERP. Instead, their purpose is twofold. In the case of H1 tags, they serve as the overall headline of a page and tend to be a bit more focused than the title tag.
If it helps, think of the H1 tag as the headline of an article in the newspaper. It acts as an affirmation to a user that’s clicked on your SERP listing that they’re in the right place. With that in mind, I’d advise against making your H1 tag too different from your title tag.
For example, let’s say you run a detergent business called Boyd’s Laundry. An example page title could be Why You Should Use Liquid Detergent – Laundry Detergent | Boyd’s. Your H1 tag could then be something along the lines of Liquid Detergent vs. Laundry Pods: Why You Should Go With The Former.
That’s a bit of a quick and dirty example, but it gets the point across all the same.
H2, H3, and H4 Tags
Other header tags, meanwhile, serve to improve the readability of a page. They’re more like subheads and are meant to break written content into more easily-digestible chunks. This allows your readers to skim a piece and find whatever section is most relevant to them.
It’s not clear whether or not they serve any specific function from an SEO perspective, but the fact that they make a page more reader-friendly is reason enough to use them.
Search Engine Optimization Will Always Matter
When it comes to ranking on Google, every little tweak helps. While it’s certainly possible to get yourself up there on the SERP simply by providing high-value, high-quality content, failure to optimize still represents a missed opportunity. Design and develop content with your audience in mind first and foremost, but don’t forget about search engines, either.