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The Importance of the H1 Tag and How to Use It

If you’re in the business of SEO (why else would you be reading this?), welcome to your life, it’s a good one. 

In fact it’s so good and so important, you could say that this life is an H1 Life.

There are few things more exciting than picking up SEO tricks, implementing them, and watching them succeed.

But let’s be clear, we’re not about hacks. We know that SEO involves hard work, patience, and most importantly, specific knowledge. That’s what builds an expert. 

Hacks aren’t easy, anyways. Just ask any hacker. They work hard at that stuff because breaking through firewalls isn’t a bowl of Fruit Loops. It takes some pretty astute expertise acquired through nature, luck, experimentation, but mostly through a very shrewd connecting of the dots.

So what I present here as it concerns The H1 Tag, is a hack in the traditional sense of the word, but not in the sense that it’s come to mean today, which is a shortcut to success.

Simply put, you can’t put all your SEO eggs into an H1 basket and expect all American breakfast with bacon, hash browns, and buttered toast. 

Using a combination of strategies is necessary for ranking. That’s why we wrote the 12 Steps to SEO Success

But let’s get cracking on the H1 Tag for now and worry about the other stuff next.

What is an H1 Tag?

The H1 tag is the first header in a piece of content following the title. In technical terms, it’s the HTML code that wraps a line of text to display it as the largest and most important message in the content. In a lineup of 6 headers, it comes in first place and has the most value for SEO.

In some cases, the H1 is the title tag, but not always. The title will have its own code as the title tag, which may or may not concern SEO. Sometimes, the title is used to creatively capture a reader’s attention rather than for indexing purposes. The H1 on the other hand, should tell the reader exactly what the page is about, which makes it naturally indexable.

A classic example is the H1 here: What is An H1 Tag? There’s no room for confusion, is there? For readers or Google’s web crawling bots.

‘Cept the bots are viewing the source code, which we can do too because not every page makes the H1 so apparent.

Try this now, right here, on this page:

In Chrome, right click and select “view source code”. Up pops the HTML view of this page. Go to your search/find function and type in H1. Look for the highlighted H1 that appears at both the beginning and end of a statement within the < >.

That’s all it is, and you can notice the same for H2, H3, and so on.

Image: The HTML version of How to Write SEO Content Like a Pro.

Why is an H1 Tag Important?

I hinted at it earlier when I stated that it had more value for SEO than other headers. Other important tags include the title tag, previously summarized, and the meta tag, also known as the meta description. You can read about it in detail HERE, but in a nutshell, it’s a brief description about a page that appears beneath the title in the SERPs. It’s critical for indexing but also for influencing a reader to click on your page instead of a different related page.

Let’s get something straight. There are lots of trends in SEO, and they fade just as quickly as acid-washed denim jackets with pleats and leather tassels did in the 80s (and should have stayed that way). 

Optimizing your H1 is not a trend. It has been a consistent ranking factor since the dawn of SEO. 

That’s the technical significance of the tag. But that doesn’t mean you go around tagging every line of text an H1. Google has rules. 

A second reason by the H1 tag is so important is for user experience. It’s vastly improved when a page has noticeable headers because most readers aren’t actually readers, they’re scanners. They want clear, obvious answers to their questions. And just like the words quickly, easily, and free are the most effective words in ad copy, they also apply to the user experience.

How to Use an H1 Tag

Like any SEO “hack”, there’s always going to be a bit of controversy. The following are themes that have emerged from all the work I’ve done with clients over the years. They’ve formed my general, slightly-bendy (though less bendy than this) rule kit for H1 tags.

Photo credit

Use one only. You want to avoid diluting the power of The Very Important H1 Tag. More than one of anything automatically decreases its value. (Imagine there was more than one Superman? Suddenly he’s no so super without an average point of reference).

Describe what the article is about. 

You might have taken care of this already with the title tag, in which case, be more specific. 

Keep it between 20-70 characters. 

That’s roughly 4-14 words, not a lot. Too much overwhelms and remember, most readers are scanners. They’re spending less than a second glancing at your H1. Make it noticeable but know that the semantic element is most important. 

Choose words that pack some punch

Go heavy on the consonants and use alliteration when possible (alliterations are a string a words that begin with the same sound, eg. What one-word weapon wins the war? (the answer is sorry, in case you were wondering).

Use a long-tail keyword for indexing. 

You may also use this keyword in your title tag. This makes it more specific, which means it’s also more relevant and will rank better than a seed keyword, which, incidentally, your long-tail keyword may contain anyway.

Satisfy the user’s intent. 

Deliver what people are searching for quickly, easily, and explicitly. Think, what words are they using and in what order to research their question? For example, someone wants to find out how to better train their dog. You have a dog training website that offers free video tutorials. They may type: “how to train my dog” or “dog training guide” or “dog training help” or even “dog training videos”. Though technically not a long-tail keyword, “dog training” is relevant, satisfies their search for info on dog training, and helps Google properly index your page.

This Is Your One and Only H1 Life

Tuck this little philosophy in the back of your brain when you’re slugging through the SEO grind of developing the real hacks that are going to put you in a position of privilege in the SERPs.

Writing a header isn’t rocket science. 

(Oh, by the way, don’t use cliches like that in your H1 because, well, notice how it made you cringe a little? I only put that in there to demonstrate what not to do).

But for it to be effective, you should know why it’s important, which, as you’ll see, will help naturally guide the process of constructing it so you can make the most of it.

Like Foucault argues, it’s the order of things, both in life and in SEO (‘cept SEO was a nonexistent term back then), that require us to understand, not blindly accept, the way things are.

Logging out (and tipping my top hat),

Logical Mix


How to Create a Killer Landing Page

Do you want to increase your ROI dramatically? 

Then you need to create a website that is user friendly, optimized for search engine indexing, and offers something the competition doesn’t.

If you’ve said check, check, check to all three of those but you’re still not getting the results you want, there’s something you’re missing and it might be a killer landing page, or at the very least, some key elements of a killer landing page. 

It may seem like a tiny detail but it has exponential significance in busting the barrier between you and an ROI that makes all the gruelling hours you’re putting in worth it.

Take five minutes and perform a mini audit of your current landing page. If you don’t have one yet, use these points as a little warm up:

Does it…?

  • Convert visitors for free
  • Make a compelling offer
  • Have a clear call to action
  • Appear well on mobile devices
  • Enable sharing to social media platforms
  • Have a clear headline and supporting, scannable copy
  • Contain important keywords in the title, URL, and metatag
  • Include attractive images that show people what they’re getting
  • Clearly outline the benefit to the customer in as few words as possible
  • Say thank you

Don’t be overwhelmed. We’re just putting it all out there so you begin to understand why landing pages are so important. 

We’ll slice it and dice it for you, but first we need to understand what a landing page actually is.

What is a Landing Page and Why Do I Need One?

Think of a landing page like a landing strip at an airport. What do people want to do when they arrive? Get off the plane. 

And how to they want to do that? With as little fuss as possible. They don’t want delays, distractions, or any other nonsense that is going to keep them from their goal.

So to start, ask yourself, what is the goal of someone arriving at my landing page? 

A landing page is a target page on your website where you offer a resource in exchange for information. 

In many cases, a landing page captures information, such as an email address, and provides the user with something for free, such as memberships, an e-book, a consultation, or a free product trial.

You need a landing page because it generates leads for your business that help increase conversions.

Is a Landing Page Different From a Home Page?

In some cases, yes, though it doesn’t have to be. 

It depends on how your business is set up to capture leads. If you have a few lead captures, then creating a landing page that targets each one is ideal for giving your potential customer exactly what they want. 

A home page is a bit too general for the reader who is interested specifically in your e-book offer, for example. You want to serve it to them straight up, without any further navigation required. We’re hungry consumers. We want what we want as quickly and as easily as possible.

To bolster my last point, I broke this landing page business down into three steps so you know exactly what to tackle and why.

STEP 1: Create the Structure

Start with what you’re offering to determine how to structure your page. 

Do you want to rely more heavily on graphics or text? Whatever your offer is, you want to get your customers to convert and shouldn’t cost them anything in time, money (just yet), or effort. 

Quickly, easily, and free are three of the most effective words in ad copy. Make the essence of those words the backbone of your user experience.

Use a 3-step process: 

  1. They arrive at your landing page & click “sign me up!”
  2. They complete the lead capture form to receive their freebie
  3. They receive a confirmation email (if applicable), and an onsite thank you message

Here are some extra tips:

Landing Page Dos:

  • Optimize for mobile
  • Include sharing buttons
  • Use high-quality images
  • Make the page scannable
  • Include 1 or more testimonials
  • Include a relevant lead capture form

Landing Page Don’ts:

  • Make it confusing to convert
  • Distract readers with a navigation menu
  • Use a default token in your confirmation email. Personalize it
  • Forget to include a thank you page

STEP 2: Write SEO Content Like A Pro

You need four basics here: 

  • Attention-grabbing title
  • Scannable copy
  • Title, H1 & Meta Description
  • URL

Each one should be keyword optimized. 

The metatag is arguably the most important piece for users finding your page through an organic search. It needs to be short, descriptive, and compelling enough to make them click through.

Depending on your product or service, the copy should also be short and feed the scanners everything they need to know to convert. 

While some experts recommend longer copy for more expensive offerings, remember, no one is buying anything at this point. They’re just giving their email (or some other information) in exchange for your free offering, which will hopefully (certainly) have them converting with cash soon enough. 

You don’t have to hire an expensive copywriter to do this for you. However, we recommend you find a creative that has experience with digital marketing and SEO, and knows the difference between a landing page and her left thumb (believe it or not, so many don’t). That doesn’t have to cost what a bulletproof Starbucks every day for a month does (if they actually made them), but understand that price is usually indicative of quality so try to get the best quality content writer you can.

A couple takeaways here are:

  1. Focus on the benefits (what the customer wants to achieve), not the features 
  2. More isn’t better; copy should be short and strategic to elicit the right kind of attention

STEP 3: Customize Your Call to Action

Don’t be afraid to sprinkle some personality in your CTA but know that clear is more important than clever.

Buy now, complete form, submit request, get access, are clear commands but they graze the edges of boring. How can you spice up these commands without losing the directness of the message?

Tailor them to your product or service offering. 

If you’re offering an e-book about dog training, a command like “undumbify my dog” is clever but not totally clear (and potentially offensive for the serious dog owners). 

What If You’re Crazy Indecisive?

If you’re looking through piles of images and banging out awesome copy and having super ideas for CTAs and lead capture forms and all the creative ways to say thank you, you might be curious to know which ones are winners.

If in doubt, split test the crap outta several templates (see Crazy Egg’s Complete How To Guide).

This isn’t rocket science, but you also don’t want to treat it like a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey either. 

Image credit

Here are your key (free) takeaways from all of this:

  • Don’t make your homepage your landing page
  • Use a 3-step structure: landing page, lead capture form, thank you
  • Customize at every opportunity
  • Make it fast, easy & free
  • When in doubt, test it out
  • When 100% sure, still test

Logging out,

Logical Mix

Step 9 to SEO: Content Creation

Am I creating quality content that solves the searcher’s problems?

Every search for something begins with a problem. It’s the reason you’re reading this blog right now––you have a problem that needs a solution. Maybe your problem is small and you just need a little help on how to create great content. Great––but it’s still a problem because it means a few different things:

Maybe you’re not already creating awesome content and you need to to sell your product.

Maybe your revenue is down and you’re looking for ways to improve sales.

Maybe someone told you your copywriter stinks and it’s time you took matters into your own hands.

Maybe you’re your own copywriter.

Don’t worry, you’ve come to the best place to find out if:

  • You’re already producing awesome content (you might be, in which case you’ll be nodding your head as you read this)
  • Your content is readable but not clickable
  • Your content stinks and how to make it better

Now, if you’re not a writer and you don’t like to write, don’t waste your own time. Get a copywriter. Pay for a good copywriter. And trust us, price usually indicates quality so low ballin’ on the Fiverr side of things may get you a crapload of content for the cost of double-fat chai latte at your local barista, but it won’t be very good.

Several sources claim that quality content is the number one ranking factor. That’s right, NUMBER ONE. That means that content is more important than anything else on your site.

The #1 Most Important Question You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Write Anything

Who are you writing for––the person or the machine?

Well, both actually. And we’ll get there in a minute but it’s super important that you know “the machine” is much, much more like a person these days than ever before.

Back in the days of yesteryear, Google didn’t care so much about content, their algorithm paid attention only to having content with highly searched terms up on a page. Times are different now. Google will actually penalize sites that stuff keywords into content, even if that content reads sensibly enough. Sophisticated algorithms are now able to assess content quality––meaning, relevance, and where and how often you use certain keywords through a script (keyword density and frequency).

So, start with the person––your ideal customer––and write content that she (or he) cares about, that speaks directly to her, that solves her problem. Don’t write a sales pitch (even though selling is your goal).

Remember this:

Writing and Writing for SEO: What’s the Difference?

Straightforward copywriting is the art of using words to sell a product or service. A copywriter knows how to use words strategically to engage a reader and persuade her to purchase whatever you’re selling.

An SEO copywriter employs the same tenants, except she tailors the copy for an online presence, optimizing it for Google The tricky bit about SEO writing is striking a balance between optimizing for a search engine and serving your potential customer. You need to do both.

Write Clickable Headlines

You want to spend more time putting together a smashing headline than you do on your entire copy. Why? Because the title is what engages or repels readers. If your headline makes people snore, they’re not going to care what your page is about and they’ll bounce away.

If you’re walking the plank and doing your own copywriting, here are a few tips for writing a title that converts:

  • Lead with a 6-7 word phrase
  • Make it clear, snappy, and simple
  • Use adjectives, strategically
  • Promise to solve a problem
  • Use numbers wherever possible

Maybe that sounds like a lot to cover in just a few words but it’s easier than you think, especially when you get the hang of it.

For example, you’re writing a blog about dog training for your pet niche site.

Instead of: “Training Your Dog”

Try: “6 Easy Ways to Make your Dog Smarter”

See the difference? You’re speaking to the ultimate goal of the reader. No one wants a dumb dog, right? That’s why we train them, and it makes our lives “easy”.


“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy


If you’re stuck, check out copyblogger’s 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work for some ideas.

Deliver on Your Headline’s Promise

Beef your content without the bloat. You want to publish content that is meaty, meaning it satisfies the reader with lots of useful information. Google penalizes sites with thin content––only there as a base for keywords, which is why 1000 words is a recommended average for any piece of content. Build your content around a keyword, but ensure your copy reads smoothly and engages the reader.

Make your content compelling by putting the most important information first. In The Copy Cure, Marie Forleo refers to the first words of a sentence or paragraph the corner real-estate spot. Fill it wisely.

Link to Authority Sites

Why would you want to send your reader elsewhere for information? Isn’t the point to keep potential customers on your page?

There are two schools of thought. At Logical Mix, we want to help people solve their problems. If someone can do that better than us, then people should know about it. Keep in mind that selfishly coveting your customer and withholding useful information from them may do harm than good.

Linking to authority sites (like we did back there with copyblogger) also shows social proof, that you’re connected, sociable, value good content and want to share it around. Not only does this put you in Google’s good books, but it helps your customer––and they’ll remember you.

The Tail End…

Remember from Step One, always start with keyword research. It’s how you know what people people’s problems are and therefore, what they’re searching for. Then use free tools like Google Analytics to find out what part of your site is getting the most traffic and why. Use that info to generate new content to improve user experience.

And if you can’t write, don’t enjoy it, or don’t care enough to try, get a copy writer. The cost is worth the result.

Photo credit: Neil Patel

Step 4 to SEO: On-Page SEO

Am I using Step 1’s insights for page targeting & structuring?

If you did your homework, you would have made some discoveries about how to rank for keywords.

If you haven’t already checked it out, see Step One to SEO Success: Keyword Research to find out how to get started on this critical stage.

If you’ve done your research, let’s take a look at what you’ve discovered.

Two of your major findings would have been:

  • How people are searching for your product or service offering and,
  • How your offering aligns with their queries.

Using as many tools as possible, you compiled a list of long-tail keywords. You ranked them by relevance and difficulty and then chose the ones that are most relevant and least competitive.

Right?

Great, what were they?

If you used a Venn diagram to display the results of a simple keyword investigation in the health supplements niche, it might have looked like this:

Now, what do we do with this? Let’s get to the nitty gritty…

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is essentially structuring individual web pages around target keywords with the goal of creating more traffic and achieving a higher rank.

It’s also about responding to the people who come to your page looking for answers.

One of the most obvious ways to hit on all these points is through content so let’s start there.

You could start structuring content around the keyword “gluten-free supplements for weight loss” because it is both relevant and low competition. This is a perfect jumping off point for a review of competitors’ brands (if there are any), or an article about how gluten-free supplements are hard to come by (until they stumbled across your brand of course), etc., etc.

Let’s hope you don’t just plop this juicy keyword into existing content about the benefits of supplements.

Of course you wouldn’t because you know as well as we do that it is better to start at the beginning.

Like a plant has a seed, a keyword is the crux of great content, which is still one of the top ranking factors. It’s easy to sniff out in the opening paragraph when keywords have been stuffed or simply dropped into existing content. Readers will quickly realize that your page is not going to deliver what they came looking for.

Irrelevancy makes you unreliable, and when you’re unreliable, people aren’t going to ask you for help and Google will note that and respond accordingly.

Don’t be that guy.

Make yourself trustworthy and deliver fresh new content that answers your users’ questions.

Now, let’s take a closer look at why content is king in SEO success and how to masterfully craft content around the keywords you want to rank for.

Enter RankBrain.

RankBrain is a machine-learning component of Google’s algorithm that measures dwell time (how long users are spending on your page) and click through rate (CTR), which is the total clicks divided by total impressions (read more about Google Analytics here). RankBrain then moves your page up or down the SERP depending on those two factors.

3 Techniques for Improving Rank

There are three key ways to win at RankBrain. First, optimize your titles and meta descriptions for better CTR. Second, rank for highly relevant keywords. Third, write quality content.

Sounds easy, right? They are, and they’re also dangerously easy to overlook. Each point carries some pretty heavy weight when it comes to on-page SEO so ensure you are focusing your efforts on all three.

1. Optimize titles.

The first point is so important. Time and effort are wasted on creating great content out of awesome keyword research if there is nothing to attract users to your page. A gripping title and simple, to-the-point meta descriptions are necessary. Like the department store Macy’s revolutionized the storefront window, the title and meta description can lead users right to your page, wanting more of what your virtual window promises.

2. Target relevant keywords and the people using them.

Let’s highlight the second point. You can write as much content as you want but if it’s not relevant to your offering, people are going to bounce.

The word people is strategic here. We talk a lot about the user, which makes me picture a hand on a mouse, or the reader, which makes me picture a book. But when I read the word people, I imagine a face, which directs my efforts to a person with a brain and the ability to subjectively decide what he or she is going to read and why. It makes my work more personal.

Okay, maybe not that face exactly. This one is a little closer to human (and looks a little like my grandma):

This point is, I’m not directing my efforts to the Google Machine, I’m addressing the needs of the people who ultimately determine what Google does with me. Right? This is a critical mind shift with which to lead.

3. Create quality content.

High-quality content is one of the top ranking factors. But quality is a bit of an ambiguous, static term, isn’t it? Let’s go with engaging instead; it’s a bit more active.

Content that engages draws the reader in right away with a hook phrase that is both relevant and interesting. It keeps the reader wanting more by providing useful bits of information that are easy to absorb and answer the readers’ questions directly. It often tells a story to which the reader can relate. It also leads the reader to helpful resources that explore their query further.

Now, great content needs a bit of decoration. Something that yells out READ ME. Because let’s be honest, no one has time to fart around looking for the juiciest tidbit of meat.

When I land on a page, the first thing I do is cut the fat. I quickly scroll through the content to see if anything jumps out. What do I notice?

Three things, mainly: Images/videos, length, and headers.

We love images. They’re the eye candy that break up the text.

Length is often a good sign that a chunky chunk of content is going to feed me what I’m looking for.

Headers offer a place to start if I’m looking to pinpoint specific information. If the headers aren’t relevant to what I’m looking for (i.e., they don’t match my keyword query) then bouncy-bounce I go back to SERP and right into RankBrain’s time-out chair.

Rand Fishkin outlines seven elements of an optimized webpage. They are less quantitative than the SEO methods of yesteryear that called for specific keyword placement so they may seem a little loosey-goosey. But they’re not.

Qualitative strategies take center stage as the algorithms that assess relevance increase in complexity.

So, what makes a page brilliantly optimized according to Fishkin and Logical Mix?

  1. Offers uniquely valuable content and images
  2. Provides excellent user experience
  3. Targets specific keywords
  4. Easily shared through social networks
  5. Optimized for every device
  6. Accessible to crawlers
  7. Includes authorship, rich snippets, metadata, and schema

Fishkin created this genius, though mythical, perfectly optimized page, highlighting his seven factors, mentioned earlier:

Pretty cool, right? I’d love to land on more web pages like this: perfectly structured to answer my question and oh so pretty.

So there you have it. On-page SEO is actually a bit fun. Maybe not as fun as the keyword research it took to get here, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

What is the main takeaway?

Remember, you’re doing this for a living, breathing human being (or several thousand if you’re doing it right). Not a doll, not an ape (though possibly some monkey brains). Google is a machine, and although we want to please the machine, we’re still the ones ultimately in control… for now.

Appeal to your customer and find out how you can deliver what they want through super-duper on-page SEO.

When you’re structuring your pages, always keep this in mind:

People have questions. Be that place where the answers are.

Logging Out,

Logical Mix

Feature photo credit: The Freedom Chase