Recently, one of our clients asked us about how to best use keywords in page headings and subheadings. They were worried that they weren’t using enough keywords in their headings, but at the same time, they knew that “keyword stuffing” in headings could backfire. Just like Goldilocks, they needed to find a balance that was juuuuuust right. When strategizing how to best use keywords in headings, we have a few best practices that we follow so that your headings are optimized for on page SEO:
You should only have one H1 tag
Although it may be tempting to use the eye-catching H1 tag throughout your page, hold yourself to only one H1 tag (foggy on what an H1 tag is? It’s usually the title of your page or blog post, and it’s the most emphasized text on the screen. Headings descend to H2, H3, etc, with each subsequent heading a little less important than the one before it). From an SEO perspective, it’s okay to have multiple H1 tags, but it’s confusing for users. For example, if you have an H1 for a page about “Deep Dish Pizza,” but then have multiple H1s for a section on salads, pastas, breads, etc, then we’d be confusing Google as to what the page is really about. Although it’s okay SEO-wise to have multiple H1s now, I think it’s important to talk about you should strive to be consistent with the theme of the page and make it as easy as possible for users and Google to quickly discern what the page is about. From a user’s perspective, the H1 is supposed to be the title of the page; if there are multiple H1s, you might inadvertantly confuse the user as to what the page is about. And since Google is giving more weight to sites that create a better user experience, we still recommend to our clients that they only have 1 H1, and set the rest of the subcategories/titles of the page as H2.
Aim to include a keyword in the H1 Tag- but put users first
You should definitely try to include a keyword in your H1 tag so that your readers and the search engines know the big idea of your web page. However, one of the big SEO trends this year has been “users first,” and this area is now different. If it doesn’t make sense to include a keyword in your H1 tag, or if the keyword sounds awkward, you should reconsider. Keep in mind that anyone who visits that page (from organic or not) will see the title, so you’ll want it to read naturally and as if a human wrote it- which hopefully, they did!
The keyword you use should be a variation of the keyword you’re targeting in the title tag and/or URL
Variety is the spice of life, and keywords too. The keyword you use in your H1 tag should be slightly different than the keyword you’re aiming for in the title tag and/or URL.
Focus on a message that will lead to conversions over rankings!
Once again, “users first” should be your motto. Write your content so that your H1 emphasizes a persuasive, user-friendly message that makes sense and is easily understandable, in contrast to a keyword-stuffed headline that’s too many characters to be easily scanned. Curious for more on page SEO tips? Check out Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO, specifically Chapter Four: The Basics of Search Engine Friendly Design and Development.