How important are H tags for SEO?

All heading tags are important, but it is a serious offence to omit your h1 tag

All heading tags are important, but it is a serious offence to omit your h1 tag

I thought I’d write a little about H tags and how important they are to SEO.  This was highlighted to me recently when I was given a very small budget to do some SEO work on a site.  I would have liked to do a complete redesign, but there were very good reasons for keeping the budget low.

I love a challenge, so I thought I’d see what could be done with the site as it was.

The first thing that struck me was that there was a complete lack of H1 tags on the site.  It had been built using a CMS and the content had been written by the business owners themselves.  The second major problem with the on-site SEO was that nearly all the pages had the same title.

The coding was verbose but I could do nothing about the page structure (no access to files on the server – just the CMS).

Do H tags make a measurable difference to position on Google?

The short answer is “yes they do”.  I made several changes to the site’s content.  H tags were at the core of what I did though.

The Results

Original Position on Google for local search terms (ie. “industry locality“): Page 3 at highest.

New Position on Google for the same terms: Nearly all page 1 with some at position 2.  Those on page 2 were in the top position there.

How I went about achieveing a page 3 to page 1 jump in rank without any inbound linking.

For on-page SEO I usually start with determining a keyword or two.  This was a local business targeting the local area.  The search terms that would be most likely used to find it seemed obvious and checking with Google Trends confirmed this.

Keywords chosen, relevance must be established within the page.  What I am looking for here is continuity.

  • URL : Try to get a keyword into the URL
  • Page Title (Meta) : Use the same keyword in the Page title (this appears on the tab of your browser)
  • H1 tag: Use the keyword here too.
  • H2, H3, H4 tags: Less important, but same principles apply.
  • p tag: Use the keyword in the body of your text, but not too much.  How much is too much?  As a rule of thumb, if it doesn’t read like good english then it is too much.

Basically, if you do hot have a h1 tag on your page it is like handing up a college thesis without a title at the top.  You are going to lose marks for it (or in this case SERPs rank).

About Ian Wortley

Ian is one of Irelands leading SEO consultants with over 8 years experience in the Irish market. Ian discovered his love of all things internet related in 2005 and has been living nearly exclusively online since then, causing much worry to friends and family, but getting great results for clients. Contact Ian: Phone: 01 6854806 Mobile: 086 3817149

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