[thelist] <h1> tag in search engines?

aardvark roselli at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 15 06:21:01 CST 2002

> From: Michael Galvin <mgalvin at sourcevisualthinking.ie>
> I've ignored most of it :) (Not really, the client is always right,
> but I've managed to come up with compelling reasons for not doing most
> of it) but now he's thrown one at me that has dumbstruck me.  He wants
> me to make the <h1> style in the CSS look the same as body text, and
> surround every mention of their company name on the site with the <h1>
> tags.  He claims it makes it easier for search engines to find.  This
> is so out there, it might actually be true!  But it's not, right?
> Right?  Hello?

that's a very short-sighted approach...

rendering issues aside... ok, let's not put them aside...

<h1> is block level... you can't legally stuff an <h1> in a <p>... immediately
that's invalid HTML/XHTML...

also, being block level, every block of text would visually end at the spot
before the <h1>, there'd be a gap, and then it would show the <h1>, and then
another couple line breaks, and then the rest of the copy...

while CSS can convert those <h1>s into inline elements, it won't work in all

<h1>-<h6> gives structure to a document... SEs will give greater weight to
words in <h1>, but if it's the same word over and over, it eventually stops...

also, without any other <h#> tags, or any other structure, you aren't helping
the SE with the rest of the content...

if the *only* targetted keyword is the company name, sure, this could have a
minor affect...

if, however, you want to get other keywords indexed, you're missing
opportunities to do so by improperly using <h1>s (and all other headings) and
spamming each entry with just one major keyword...

instead, make sure the company name is part of the URL, every page <title>,
work it into headings in a reasonable way, and include it in your meta
information... also feel free to use it in alts on logo images, in your footer info,
and whever else it would normally go... if the page is well-structured, this
<h1> assault won't result in any higher rankings than good coding...

i've had the opportunity to test this with a number of sites recently, and
generally i want peopl coming to me who search on concepts or services, not
on my company name... if they know my company name, i've already got a
qualified lead... i want the people who search on 'enterprise software' and the
like... it would be dumb of me to ignore those surfers in favor of the ones who
already know who i am...

and let's not forget that when we author pages *only* for SEs, eventually the
SEs qualify those techniques as spam, and the users are often presented
with some bizarre wording, gaps with hidden words, etc...  even if it works, it
will cease to work at some point in the future...

and don't do that disservice to your users... use headings as intended, they
help reders parse the page content...

yeah, his approach is, IMO, short-sighted and will eventually cost them
valuable hits and might result in penalization...

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