Home page/SEO Guide/On-page/H1 tag: the ultimate guide to optimizing it for your SEO

In previous articles, we helped you optimize the title tag for the seo, the meta description tag and the url. Now we will help you optimize the H1 tag.


H1 tag in a nutshell!

I would like a demo

H1 tag definition

The h1 is an HTML tag that indicates a title on a website. HTML has six different title tags - h1, h2, etc. The h1 is considered as the most important title and the h6 is the least important.

Tags are often formatted according to their importance: we go from a very visible rendering for the h1 to a rather discreet rendering for the h6.hn-tags-seo

These levels of titles are used to build a page in a hierarchical manner and therefore to inform the search engines of the titles and subtitles as well as of the general organization of the page: the h1 is therefore an essential component for a page’s referencing.

You can now check the structure of your web page, let's take this page as an example:


On Chrome, you just have to go to the source code by going to the "view" tab, options for developers, then "source code":

title tag h1

You click "Ctrl + F" on PC and on Mac "Cmd + F", a little search bar on the right, then you type "h1" and type "Enter" and Chrome will highlight the h1:

H1 tag on-page

The h1 tag is not necessarily visible on your web page, as it depends a lot on the style of your page. Very often, however, since this tag corresponds to the main subject of the page, the h1 is highlighted and is very easily identifiable "with the naked eye", as for example below:

h1 seo natural referencing

Why is the H1 tag important in SEO?

Google will therefore know what the main title of the page is. It can thus define the main topic of the page and know what the general theme of this page is.

The words in the h1 tag define the subject of the page for Google. It gives a strong weight to these words in its algorithm of relevance.

How to optimize the H1 tag for SEO?

The 3 main criteria of the H1 tag are

  • The Keywords: Include the main keyword of the page in the h1.
  • The Size : there is no hard and fast rule, but try not to exceed 100 characters: the h1 is meant to be a title, not a paragraph. :)
  • The Uniqueness: you should only have one h1 tag per page, because each of the pages must be a specific and unique subject.

Useful recommendations to optimize your h1 tag

Since you should only use a single h1 tag on each of your pages, we recommend that you create several pages if you want to deal in detail with certain topics that are more specific than the one addressed by your current page. Above for example, Zalando will offer in detail, in the menu, “women's shoes” such as “Pumps”, “Boots,” “Sneakers”, and these shoes could be “red”, “green,” “inexpensive”. "Or" luxury ": each of these variations is an opportunity to make a very specific page.
You’re going to tell us that it represents a lot of content! Yes indeed, but addressing a specific subject in a precise manner is precisely what we are looking for, to aim for the long tail and therefore to position ourselves well on less competitive requests.

  • Write different h1s for each of your pages.
  • Use the lower levels (from h2 to h6) to structure the content.
  • Use descriptive words for the content of the page.

The h1 should describe the topic of your page and its content. It’s possible that the h1 tag is similar to your title tag. Usually the h1 tag is the title of your post or blog post. Normally, the h1 tag gives the reader an idea of the content of a web page.

User Experience

Your h1 should be the most prominent visual element on the page. You should use necessary formatting and styling elements for this tag to stand out. Nowadays, in an SEO current strategy, the user experience becomes a central subject of optimization. Indeed, the user does not necessarily discern the style (the form) and the semantic elements (the content), which makes them points of improvement that must work in synergy. Combining these two notions turns out to be a logical strategy. User experience is becoming increasingly important in SEO. Understanding how the user interacts with a page becomes a search engine ranking criterion and the h1 is one of the most important elements on a web page.

How to set it up?

If you are using a CMS, such as WordPress, for content management, the h1 will often take the title of the article by default, as for example below.

h1 tag optimization

Otherwise, it is generally enough to choose the “Title 1” in your Text editor, which will correspond to your h1 (often CMS, for the sake of simplification for the redactor, do not speak technical and therefore offer this classification which allows you to understand that an h1 is bigger and more important than an h2, itself more important than an h3...).


Here is an example of h1-h6 structure:h1-h6-structure

Mistakes to avoid

In this part, we will go through the techniques for detecting and correcting H1 tag errors.

The first step is to identify the H1 tags present on your website. During an audit, a crawler is used to locate all URLs and their tags.
It is also possible to use other means:

  • Using a plugin: allows you to see the tag when you are on the page.
  • By consulting the source code of the page (right click > display the source code then search for "H1")

However, these 2 solutions have a significant drawback: they allow on-the-fly consultation on a page, and not a complete listing of the whole site.

Case 1: Missing tags

Let's analyze the pages that do not contain an H1 tag.

- If there is none: so much the better, there is nothing to do
- If there are any: locate the number and type of page(s) concerned:

  • If these are pages to be de-indexed (shopping cart, etc.), verify that they are de-indexed or proceed to de-index them.
  • If these are low interest pages, like the T&Cs or the recruiting page, add a 1 tag title to be clearer, although it won't have a direct impact on your SEO.
  • If these are pages supposed to bring SEO traffic: you must quickly add a H1 tag optimized according to SEO rules.

Case 2: Duplicate tags

Let's move on to duplicate H1 tags. As a reminder, you should never have 2 duplicate H1 tags on your website, because this is either a sign of duplicate pages or of several pages targeting a single keyword, which goes against the page and the site’s SEO strategy.

- If there is none: so much the better, there is nothing to do
- If there are any: locate the number and type of page(s) concerned:

  • If it is H1 that the CMS automatically adds in all pages, such as the name of the brand or its slogan for example, this H1 must be deleted. In that case, it will also be multiple H1s (see case #5 below).
  • If these are product pages with variants (color, size, etc.): we advise you to specify in H1 the unique variant for this product. If there is no SEO interest in this variant (if nobody is looking for such a precise request) we even advise you to delete the page and redirect it to a single product page which concentrates all the "useless" variants in SEO. But it all depends on your technical / CMS architecture.
  • If these are paginated pages: you can skip, there is nothing to do.
  • If these are pages that are supposed to be different: then just edit the H1 tags to be more specific. If you have “real estate agency + city” pages, specify the city in the H1 and not just “real estate agency”.
  • If these are duplicate pages, in other words, multiple existing URLs that display exactly the same content, then this is probably a technical issue that needs to be fixed. To do so, choose the one that is meshed in the site (= receives links within the site) and do a 301 redirect from the wrong URL to the right one + remove all internal links made at the duplicate URL. Example:


==> Here you have to redirect 301 pages with "/ fr" to pages without, or vice versa: choose the URL version that is the most meshed within the site or that brings the most traffic.
It is also necessary to remove all internal links from these duplicate pages so that Google permanently stops visiting them.

Case 3: Tags that are too long

As a reminder, the H1 tag must not exceed 70 characters. You can grow up to a hundred characters, but this is especially from a UX (User Experience) point of view that it is not pleasant.

Beyond 100, the tag becomes really long and you have to change and make it again, unless these are pages of no SEO interest (T&Cs, recruitment, etc.). In addition, it avoids being detected by anti-spam algorithms.

Case 4: Tags too short

It would be unfortunate to have short H1 tags, since this is the on-page tag that the engine sees as a second step. Sometimes, a modification of this tag is enough to gain a lot of positions.

We recommend that you go through and change all the title tags that are under 30 characters, in order to flesh them out with rich semantics for the keyword concerned.

Case 5: Multiple tags

As mentioned above, this is mostly an automatic CMS rule that adds an unnecessary H1:


==> Remove that extra H1 tag.

Now you know how to analyze and correct your H1 tags!

What's next ?

Your h1 is now optimized, and that's perfect. Now let's move on to optimizing images for your SEO.

   Article written by Louis Chevant

Further reading

The complete Guide to On-page SEO

All the rules to optimise each page element at best.

Download for free