SEO for website developers: Heading Tags

June 27, 2014 - Digital State Marketing
upside down car

What? That’s not how you store a car? But I heard it was best practice to keep them in a garage

Before I got into the world of SEO, I was a website developer.  As such, when we work to optimise a website, I find it a little easier to understand (but not forgive) the common errors we see – the ones that I know (from a website perspective) are functional but are harmful to an SEO campaign.

The aim of this column is to highlight the common things that we find on websites and provide advice on the ways to fix them.

Heading tags

This week will be focusing on heading tags.  These are used to introduce your content to both the search engines and to your readers.  Furthermore, they help (along with the content itself) to reinforce authority, as we have looked at previously.

With this in mind there should only ever be one H1 tag (to ensure a clearly focused subject for the potential authority of the page).  However with websites being dynamic and lots of fancy coding behind them, it is easy to accidentally end up with multiple H1 tags.  With the convenience of using “include files”, it is easy to get compartmentalised, and when you are creating your widget file, obviously the most important text to describe what the file is about is a H1 tag right?  “I heard they’re important, I’d better add one”…

Html Code

A dynamic website can have dozens of files like this

Lovely, but what happens when you make another function? It is all too tempting to do the same thing for say, a categories page, and before you know it when you include these lone wolves into the pack, you will have a lovely website but your content is now confusing the search engines.

It’s easily done

As a developer, this has likely happened to you in the past (I know I’m guilty of it!) but the biggest culprit (and the source of regular work tasks for us at DSM) is one you may not expect – WordPress!

WordPress, as a whole, is a fantastic CMS.  We use it quite reguarly in our web design services (and I’ve built several personal ones on it too) but out of the box WordPress is not SEO friendly, period.  All WordPress sites we have worked with have required a major overhaul to ensure the pages used the heading tags correctly, and sequentially.

Conclusion

To reiterate, multiple H1 tags are not a sign of a bad developer; on the contrary, they are a sign of an efficient and logical mind.

However, from an SEO perspective it is vital you ensure that each page on your website has just one H1 tag; that this H1 tag correctly describes your page (best get your keywords in there too) and that if your content is further split up, each section has a heading tag and these should iterate sequentially upwards, so a H4 tag, would be lower down the page than a H2.

+++

If you have any questions arising from this article or you’d like to put a question to our Tech team for future articles in this series, please drop a comment below.  Alternatively, just contact us and we’ll get in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *