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Payday Loan Blog - The Proper Use of H Tags

 Tuesday, 26 December 2006

…or, “not everything needs to be in enclosed in <H1> tags.”

We’ve been trying out a few on-page SEO variables on our test sites, and a recent update by Google showed that the overuse of the H1 tag can lead to troubles as far as ranking is concerned. This is a particularly valuable piece of information to know, especially considering how hard so many sites out there seemed to be hit by recent search engine updates. Why is this important? I smell the perfect opportunity for a clever analogy…

If you’re like me, it was difficult to pick just a few words from a paragraph in your college textbook; if you’re even more like me you highlighted entire pages at a time. This sort of defeats the purpose of highlighting altogether, doesn’t it? Header tags work off the same principal – it’s basically useless to make everything on a page an H1 since it dilutes the potency/purpose of that particular tag. H tags are supposed to underscore important points within a body of text, so the frequent/overuse of a tag not only distracts a user, it can be an obvious indication that a webmaster is trying to use H tags to sway search engine favor. Let’s take a look at why:

Rule One: No More than One H1 on a Page / Logical H Tag Order

This is the most valuable lesson of this recent study, as sites that utilized more than one H1 on a page seemed to take the strongest blow. An H1 tag tends to indicate a main topic, and if you think about it you really ought to only have one main topic on a page. You may use H2 and H3 tags to further break out that topic on the page, but keep your H1 tag reserved for the title/main focus of whatever you’re discussing.

It’s also useful to use H tags in a logical order by surrounding the tag with relevant text or related topics.

Rule Two: No Hidden H Tags or Tags in Weird Places

When I play site sleuth I like to see if I can’t visually identify an errant <H> tag before I cheat and view the source of a site; this only highlights the purpose of the exercise, since the purpose of an H tag in HTML is to identify a key point and it should probably be treated as such when displayed on-page. This means no using sneaky white-on-white text, margin-left:-1000px, or other tricky tactics to transform your tags into otherwise unidentifiable text (you can thank spammers for that one).

Rule Three: No Specific Keyword Phrases Only

Using H tags, while handy for SEO benefit, should always be a visual cue for a reader to learn about that tag’s contents. In other words, promoting a cash advance site by having multiple H1/2/3 tags with just “cash advance” or “cash advances” in it is bad news. If a client is on your site chances are they know you’re giving them the opportunity to apply for a cash advance, so an H tag with just the target keywords phrase is useless at best. From a spider’s point of view this is an obvious attempt to use H tags to artificially inflate the visibility of a target phrase, and it would appear that search engines are now discounting sites accordingly (you can thank spammers for that one too).

Putting It All Together

Here’s some example HTML of properly formatted H tags in action:

<h1>We’ve got Cash Advances for Every Occasion!</h1>

Whether you’re looking for a cash advance to cover an unexpected expense, emergency medical bills, or that much needed vacation, we’ve got the cash you need!

<h2>Cash Advances: Perfect for Unexpected Bills</h2>

With the cost of energy on the rise and record-breaking temperature lows, it’s easy to see why bills can be overwhelming. Did you know you can use a cash advance to cover unusually high utility payments without worrying about disconnections or late fees?

<h2>Paying for Emergency Medical Expenses</h2>

Sometimes life’s emergencies come without warning, which is why instant approval cash advances can come in extra handy should the unthinkable occur. Our cash advance products are favored by consumers because …

  • <h3>Cash Advances are Fast</h3>
    Once approved, you’ll receive your funds electronically overnight
  • <h3>Applying Online is Easy</h3>
    Our application only takes a few minutes, and in many cases no faxing will be required

(…and I could go on.)

As you can see, H1 was used to highlight the topic (cash advances for any occasion), followed by the enumeration of that topic with H2 tags (types of occasions), and then finally support for a specific topic (qualities that are attractive for a specific occasion). You might have even noticed that I didn’t use “cash advance” in every tag in order to avoid keyword stuffing; instead I would recommend using words that consumers might use to describe your product or your product’s qualities (in this case, “applying,” “fast,” and “easy” were used since these are common search descriptors). A good rule of thumb would be 75/25, meaning 75% cash advance or related phrases and 25% product descriptors.

Related Topics:

- Blumey

Tuesday, 26 December 2006 14:14:36 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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