Should Your Page Title and H1 Tag Match

Does your page title need to match your H1 tag, or can you vary them for increased SEO results?

Before we look any deeper at this subject we need to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing. Your page title is the part of the HTML code between the tags and in most browsers, is displayed in either the browser chrome area, or on the individual tab. Your H1 tag is usually displayed on the page as the name/title of the article or post.

From an SEO perspective there isn’t a penalty if your Title and H1 element are the same, however you are missing out on the opportunity to use them to target variations or alternate keywords. Let me illustrate with an example:

Title: How to Choose a Printer for Your Vista Computer
H1: How to Choose a Printer for Your Vista Compute

compared to

Title: Printers: Shopping for a Printer for Your Vista Computer / Laptop
H1: How to Choose a Printer for Your Vista Computer

Notice how by using a variation we were able to incorporate new keywords such as “shopping” and “laptop”. Additionally we were able to get the single and plural version of “printer” and “printers” into the title. Let’s try another example:

Title: Cheap Hotels in Las Vegas
H1: Cheap Hotels in Las Vegas

compared to

Title: Discount Hotels – Las Vegas Cheap Hotel Rooms
H1: Cheap Hotels in Las Vegas

Again in this case we were able to add the hotel/hotels singular and plural variations, as well as “hotel rooms” and “discount hotels”

Of course there is the temptation to go overboard with this technique and add in too many words, such as:

Title: Discount Hotels Online – Cheap Las Vegas Strip Hotel Rooms, Book Online

From a user perspective there are too many words, it looks keyword stuffed, and it isn’t very click enticing. Secondly you break the proximity and position effects. If you can get the words in the exact order of a query that’s the ideal situation, if that’s not possible you to get them next to each other with as few other words and no stop words in between (this is called positioning). In the first example the “discount hotels” and “cheap hotel” were on both sides of the words “Las Vegas” (this is known as proximity). Lastly is the length, Google will start to truncate (chop off) at 66 characters so you want to try and stay at 65 or under whenever possible.

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Try to use different page titles and H1 tags to introduce singular and plural keywords
  • Try to use different page titles and H1 tags to introduce alternate and related keywords
  • Place alternate keywords around central concepts to take advantage of proximity
  • Keep your page titles under 66 characters to avoid being truncated
Written by
Michael Gray
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