In the HTML code of your website, tags are used to structure and format the content. The way you use these tags is important because how you’re using them and how often plays into your result ranking.
Utilizing Tags Appropriately
What does “appropriately” mean?
Appropriately is using the tag the way it is meant to be used and not trying to “trick” Google by unnecessarily highlighting or emphasizing part of your content.
So title tags, heading tags, and emphasis tags (used to bold, italicize, and underline text) should be used as expected. Your title is placed in a <title> tag. Your headings are used in the various heading tags and the different levels are used to organize your content. Emphasis tags are used to emphasize (or de-emphasize) text.
The <Title> Tag
When creating a title for a page, make sure it accurately describes the content on the page. Having a title that does not correlate to the content will drop the quality of your site, lowering its ranking.
Each page on your site should have a unique, descriptive title. Having too similar of titles may confuse Google and cause it to think you have duplicate content, lowering your site’s quality and ranking.
Keep the number of keywords in the title limited to 1 – 3 keywords. Using too many key words will come across as “spam” and lower your quality and ranking. You also want your title to flow and read naturally and throwing in too many buzzwords will inevitably come off as clunky, robotic, and unnatual.
Don’t get too lengthy with your title when trying to be descriptive. When titles become too long, Google may only display part of the title. This becomes cumbersome to users because it is unclear what your content is actually about and they will most likely move onto a different article or page.
Header tags are a great way to structure your content and draw attention to important statements or buzzwords. As you can see in this post, I have four <h2> tags (Heading 2). It makes it clear what content is being discussed in each section (I’m discussing headings under my “<Headings> Tags” Headings 2 heading…now say that 3 times fast).
Using headings appropriately will increase your quality and ranking. The overuse of heading tags could cause your page to be deemed of low quality and marked as spam.
You can’t trick Google by throwing a bunch of keywords into a bunch of headings on your page.
High quality content will have a heading, followed by some paragraph text, another heading, more paragraph text, etc. Or you have your Heading 2 followed by Heading 3 then some content and so on.
There’s no definitive max number of headings you can use and Google search employees have even said there isn’t, however, I have seen it recommended to not exceed 1 <h1> tag and no more than 4 <h2> tags on a single page.
<h1> vs. <title>
The <h1> or Heading 1 format is usually used for the title of your page, however, we have a <title> as well, so what gives? Why do we have both?
The <title> tag is used by search engines to display the title of your page in the results and actually does not display on your web page. The “title” in the <h1> tag is what is actually displayed on your site.
The description meta tag describes what the page is about. This will expand on your title and be a couple sentences to a short paragraph. These are the descriptions that appear on the search engine results so clearly stating the value your page adds will attract consumers to your site over others.
This is also a great place to get your keywords on your page, but again, be careful how many and which keywords your using. Make sure you are accurately describing the content on your page. It is also important that this description differentiates this page’s content from other page’s content.
Do not use the same meta description across multiple pages.
But how do I know what my HTML code looks like if I didn’t write it?
While on the web page you want to see the code of, press
CTRL + U
and a new window will open with the source code. (For Safari users it is Command + Option + U).
For more ways to view the source code, check out How to view the HTML source code of a web page.
Once you’ve opened the source code, you can use CTRL + F to do a search of your different tags and see how many times each tag occurs on your page and where.
For more information on Googl’e SEO Guidelines, check out their SEO Starter Guide
Featured Image from HTML&CMS