Important HTML tags for SEO

What are the most important HTML tags for SEO?

Some HTML tags are extremely important for successful SEO...

Some HTML tags are extremely important for successful SEO

Let's look at two of them:
the TITLE tag and the H1 tag

Some HTML tags are extremely important for successful SEO

Important HTML tags for SEO

Things you should know about your own website

It is alarming how many website designers are out there offering a professional service and charging clients good money to build websites, but are missing some fundamentally important things from the websites they build.

Bear with me here because this might start off by appearing technical, but it really isn’t, and as a website owner it is worth knowing a little about this.


Two bad examples turned up on my doorstep!


I recently took over the management of two websites within the space of a week. The websites were owned by two separate businesses, but both were suffering from similar problems.

The first problem I’ll mention is that they were both very slow to load on mobile phones, mainly due to poorly optimised images. In other words the images on both websites were far too large, and were causing the websites to load slowly, especially on mobiles.

This is a very common problem which I have covered in a separate article about mobile friendly websites, so I won't elaborate further on that point here.

The other problem that both websites shared was that two very important components of their web pages were being poorly used. In fact on one of those websites some of the tags which I’ll describe below were completely missing!

Professional web designers should not be producing websites with such omissions!


Two very important tags which make a big difference

What follows is not technical, I promise, but I want to draw your attention to two very important HTML tags which can have a lot of influence on how your website performs in search engine results, and therefore they can have quite an impact on the amount of visitors your website gets.

So here is my advice...


Ask your web designer about your <title> and <H1> tags


The <title> and <H1> tags should both be relevant to the page they’re on, and both should contain at least some of the most important keywords that you want that page to be found in search engine results for.

A surprising number of websites make very poor use of these important tags, and this which could be detrimental to the performance of your website, so ask your web designer to tell you what content of the <title> tag and <H1> tag contains for each page of your website.

Let’s begin with the <title> tag...


Why are HTML title tags important?

When it comes to on-page SEO your title tag is key. As you would expect, the title tag should state the title of the page, ideally in a descriptive way, but using no more than 60 characters.

Although you don’t actually see the content of title tag on your web pages, the reason they’re so important is that search engines use to the title tag as a strong indicator of what each page is about, and search engines typically use the title tag to display the bold content in the search results.

So as far as search engine results are concerned, your title tag is extremely important, and from the perspective of someone searching, the title tag is the most prominent piece of content they’ll see in the list of search results.

In case you're wondering, the content of the title tag for this page is HTML tags for SEO - The most important HTML tags for Google which you won't actually see displayed anywhere on the page, but it will be displayed in the page tab.


Let’s look at some examples of title tags

If you have a page with a title tag which simply contains the words commercial electrician you have an extremely small chance of anyone finding that page in a search. But if it was be changed to something like commercial electrician in Stevenage or commercial electrical services in Stevenage it could improve your search results considerably.

Here’s a tip: Go to Google and search for the pages of your website like this… site:your-website.com

This is what I see if I run this search for targaweb.com using site:targaweb.com

When you see the list of pages in the search results, pay attention to the bold content for each of your web pages. If you don’t feel that bold content is descriptive enough, decide what you want it to say and instruct your web designer to change the title tag on which ever page(s) you’re not happy with.

Title tags in search results

A reminder that you should try to keep your title tag to no more than 60 characters.

Next we’ll look at your <H1> tags.


Why are H1 tags important?

Unlike title tags, H1 tags ARE visible on your web pages. However it might not always be obvious to you when you look at your web page which piece of content is actually held in the H1 tag.

In case you're wondering, the content of the H1 tag for this page is Important HTML tags for SEO which you'll see at the top left of the page. Your web pages might display your H1 tags elsewhere, but it's worth knowing where they are.

For search engines H1 tags are hugely important, so you really want them to be as effective as possible, and therefore it really is worth you knowing what content they contain. You could ask your web designer to tell you, or you could do it yourself by following a couple of very simple steps.


Finding the content of your H1 tags

For this you’ll need to be on a laptop or desktop computer.

  1. Simply hover your cursor over the web page, and with your mouse or tracker pad, right-click and you should see a menu of options appear.

    View page source menu
  2. Select View page source and it should open a new tab which is full of code.
  3. Don’t let that put you off, because if you then search using the buttons [Ctrl] and [F] at the same time, a little box will appear.
  4. Enter <h1 (NOT <h1>) and it should immediately help you locate your H1 tag.
  5. In the example shown you can see that the content held in the H1 tag for that particular page is Targa - Affordable website design service

    H1 content in source code
  6. That’s all you need to do, so repeat the process for each of your web pages.

If you cannot find an H1 tag on your page, you should ask your web designer why not.

No web designer should be producing web pages without H1 tags, unless they have a very good reason for doing so. But quite honestly I cannot think of a single reason why H1 tags would be left out on purpose, so ask your web designer to add them and then re-submit those pages to Google!


You CAN have more than one H1 tag on a page

It is widely believed that you cannot have more than one H1 tag on a page, otherwise it might cause some confusion for the search engines. Indeed there are many top rated SEO and website audit tools which will flag alerts for any pages with more than one H1 tag as a potential problem.

This used to catch me out, because there had been times when I had used one H1 tag for mobile display and another H1 tag for desktop display, because the page layouts required very different placements of their respective H1 tags.

In both cases the content of each of those H1 tags was identical, and in case on mobile and desktop, only one of the tags was displayed.

I had felt this a legitmate use of a single dedicated H1 tag for each purpose, yet Semrush, AHrefs and other audit tools would always throw up an alert to say that only one H1 tag is allowed on a page. As a result I made a lot of changes to prevent that warning from happening, fearing that it would impact my SEO efforts.


Follow semantic html rules to structure your page


What is important is that multiple H1 tags should not be nested. There should be a heirarchy, and therefore any header tags used after an H1 tag should follow the semantic HTML rules that lower level header tags of H2, H3 and so on should be used.

If a separate section on the page then justifies another H1 tag, that's fine, and subsequently further uses of H2, H3 (through to H6 if required) can be used as lower level heading in that section.


Duplicate TITLE and H1 tag content

Another common myth is that the TITLE and H1 tags contents must not be identical. Again this is an issue often flagged by those popular SEO and website auditing tools I have already mentioned.

However, I have since learned from both Google's Martin Splitt and John Mueller (Senior Search Analyst at Google) that you CAN have more than one H1 tag on a page! It is ALSO okay for the title tag and H1 tag to have the same content, although those same website audit tools will flag that as an issue too.


Hear it from Google....


For validation on those points, you can hear what Google's Martin Splitt has to say on this SEJ Podcast at the 1h 45secs marker.


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Daron Harvey

About Daron Harvey: I'm the founder of Targa Web Solutions, specialising in website management, testing, auditing, troubleshooting & consultancy. I'm now in my 27th year of professional website production, testing and eCommerce best practices, including management of large multi-lingual multi $Billion global websites. No AI was needed or used to write the content on this page!
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