You may not be aware of the fact that heading tags play a vital role in ranking better on search engines, in fact, it has a long history. Heading tags are one of the earliest known Google ranking factors. However, with time, the heading tags have evolved significantly, and in this post, we will be discussing the different aspects of the H1 tag, H2 tag, and others.
The initial Google Algorithm and Headings were described in the 1988 “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.”- This document comprised everything related to SEO services and practices that were fitting for modern search engines.
The document was well-read by search marketers, and they implemented all the necessary stuff into the search engines. One of the prominent takings from the research papers was about the title tag. It stated that the title tag is an important ranking factor. The document, which got introduced in 1988, can be fittingly considered responsible for the SEO practice of adding keywords to specific webpage elements for ranking purposes.
Also, Read – Essential Tips For Writing Appealing Title Tags
Below is an example to state that how the title tag and the PageRank score was adequate to rank a webpage with precision;
“For most popular subjects, a simple text matching search that is restricted to web page titles performs admirably, when PageRank prioritizes the results.”
Besides the Title tag, other ranking factors are the word positioning within a document, capitalization, and font size. The placement of keywords still remains one of the most perennial factors in ranking.
The document also described algorithmically “weighting” the fonts.- This means when something has more weightage, it has more importance as a ranking factor. Therefore, ranking signals should be assigned to them.
The Google founders also explained how keyword “hits” got influenced by “weighting” of several factors and written down as a score. You can find below how the initial (original) version of the ranking process of Google is described as,
“Google considers each hit to be one of several different types (title, anchor, URL, plain text large font, plain text small font, …), each of which has its own type-weight.
…Google counts the number of hits of each type. Then every count is converted into a count-weight.
Count-weights increase linearly with counts at first but quickly taper off so that more than a certain count will not help. We take the dot product of the vector of count-weights with the vector of type-weights to compute an IR score for the document.
Finally, the IR score is combined with PageRank to give a final rank to the document.”
H1 tags aren’t what they used to be
The H1 tags used today aren’t what they used to be before. Back then, they were systematic and standardized, but today, they have to be more flexible as search is smarter than ever before and getting smarter every passing day. There is no need of making the main heading or headline H1, but the fundamentals behind it acting as an H1 remain intact.
Now, you can make your headline H2 as it should be an overarching, short summary of the content on the page. The rest of the content will be treated as paragraphs, with subheads being H3 and H4.
What H1 used to be before
In regards to SEO, there used to be straightforward requirements for H1s, which were;
- Include the most important keywords
- Use only one or less H1 tags per page
- Ensure that H1 is the first and largest text on the page
Well, these were the rules set for H1 before, but Google has made it clear that these are no longer the rules anymore. The changes have taken place courtesy of the websites that have evolved with time. A lot matters now on how these websites are presented, crawled, and consumed by users.
What H1 tags are now
Today, H1s can get used multiple times. There are no specific iterations related to H1 tags, but the page should not be overthought. According to Google’s John Mueller, “Your site is going to rank perfectly with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags.”
Having multiple H1s doesn’t negatively affect the organic visibility of a page also, it doesn’t do any bad to the keywords. Not many changes are visible while crafting headers on a page. All this should be done without emphasizing much on the elements being an H1 over an H2 or vice-versa.
Time to wrap up: The original Google algorithm research paper from 1988 had a lot to tell about the heading tags and SEO agency. Heading tags have their own significance, but settling down with the Google algorithms is indeed the most essential aspect. And also make sure you use H1 not more than once on every page of your website, whereas the other title tags could be used in subheads.