Tag Title e H1: what they are, how they differ, and how they are used for SEO

Reading time : 6 minutes

Our blog today tries to turn the spotlight on a technical topic that people often get confused about, especially when they are new to online activities: we are going to see what title and H1 tags are, how they differ, and, most importantly, how important they are for SEO and how useful it is to optimize them as best as possible to get good results.

What is the title tag

Let’s start analyzing the characteristics of the title tag, which is an element of HTML code used to specify the title of a web page. Its importance is obvious when we think that tigle tags are generally the text chosen by search engines as the clickable title for a given result in SERPs, and they are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.

The title tag in SERPs

To be precise, the title tag is the main and most visible part of the results in SERPs, the search engine results pages: on Google, for example, it is shown in blue color and in larger font size than other text, with the possibility to click directly on the area and get the link to the site.

How the title tag appears on site pages

This element of HTML code also appears in the specific page tab displayed in the browser: it is the text that appears in the tab label, although it is normally truncated. It is also what appears when a user shares the page through social networks.

What the title tag is for

Wanting to summarize, we can consider the title tag of a web page as an accurate and concise description of the content present onpage, the first signal that the site throws to the user about the type of article and intent present in the text.

In Google’s guidelines, in particular, webmasters, developers and SEO professionals are asked to carefully curate titles because they “provide users with quick information about the content of a result and why it is relevant to the query.”

The effective title tag comes from an overall assessment that puts together the analysis of the potential traffic pool, the study of competitors and, of course, the content of the page.

The usefulness of page titles

In practical terms, titles are frequently “the main information users use to decide which results to click on”, they add from Google, so “it is important to have high-quality titles in web pages” to try to achieve better results in organic traffic and outperform competitors.

Difference between title tag and H1

This element is therefore fundamental for on-page SEO optimization, but beware: the title tag does not appear on the page and in the article, because it is only present in the HTML code as a string contained between the <title></title> commands. Instead, the text we see as the title of the page is more precisely the H1 heading that can be set by traditional editors such as WordPress, which represents the most important element on the page from the point of view of hierarchy, position and graphics, because it attracts the eye and curiosity of visitors.

Two elements with different tasks

To clarify, we can say that the title tag is the title designed, researched, and written for search engines and indexing in SERPs, while the H1 is the title that addresses human users, the one that is concretely visible on the page they are visiting and reading.

What is the H1 title

So now we focus on this second factor related to the “title,” which is the H1 header that is the main title of the page as viewed by users. A possible more specific definition of the H1 is the main header that is highlighted both graphically and as semantic relevance on the page.

If we think of a book, H1 represents the title of the volume, while the other headings are hierarchically inferior and are to be used for the subsequent paragraphs; in particular, H2 (subheadings) can be considered as the various chapters and so on, passing through H3 subheadings and the generally rarer sub-subheadings H4, H5 and H6, which is the last rung of the ladder.

The importance of the H1 title for the SEO

This element also has an important weight for SEO and ranking, because Google reads and interprets H1s as a ranking factor: for sure, it is not enough to optimize the H1 tag to get outstanding results in SERPs, but writing a good title for the page is a potential method to try to intercept the appreciation of search engines, without forgetting the readers.

As we have reiterated several times, SEO copywriting is not only about writing for crawlers, but also about being able to intrigue and inform visitors: from this point of view, H1 can be used to clearly and captivatingly introduce the content of the article, giving people a useful preview of what they will find on the page (without ever disappointing their expectations and needs!).

How to Differentiate Title Tag and H1

Usually, CMS editors such as WordPress or Joomla do not allow you to differentiate title tags and H1, because they automatically make the H1 title tag as well. However, there are many tools that allow you to work more precisely and differentiate onpage title (H1) from SEO title (title tag), so you can better optimize your strategy.

Why use different title tags and H1

In fact, from an SEO perspective, you may decide to force a title tag by inserting the main keyword in a prominent position (at the beginning of the string); or, you may reduce the number of characters used for the on-page headline when it is too long and risks being truncated in the SERP snippet view.

In any case, not differentiating title tag and H1 is not a mistake for either SEO or user experience: using the same character string for both fields just means missing the opportunity to optimize titles and achieve different goals, as mentioned.

How to optimize title tags and H1

At this point, let’s try to provide a few more practical pointers for optimizing page titles, starting with a basic consideration: at an ideal level, a web page should contain only one H1 and be identified with only one title tag, because these elements let Google and readers know how that page is characterized and distinguished from others on the site.

To try to achieve SEO goals, it is good as mentioned to include the keyword of the page in a prominent position, even better if in the opening of the text; when differentiating title and H1 tags we can introduce variations through the use of synonymous terms, long tail keywords, related keywords or words of similar semantic field to the main keyword, all of which can be tracked using SEOZoom’s keyword research tools.

H1 heading and Google, the official advice

The search engine’s public voices have often devoted attention to this issue, including at the urging of users asking for advice with respect to managing title and header elements, and just recently John Mueller returned to talk about the way Google interprets H1s, offering some interesting insights.

Specifically, responding to a thread on Reddit John Mueller made it clear that Google will never penalize a site for not putting an H1, and that the choice to use this header should be interpreted as “a good practice, usually something you can get without any effort,” he added.

What is important is to have a good understanding of what H1s are-that is, “a great way to give more structure to a page, so that users and search engines can figure out which parts of a page are under specific, different headers”-and then use it properly on a page. But, the Googler exaggerated before, there is no technical difference in using one, none or a hundred thousand H1s, because this is not a critical issue according to Google and a site “can function perfectly well without h1 tags or with five h1 tags” – what changes is the actual usability of the content, because these choices impact the usability of the page.

Managing headings to answer user questions

To get guidance on the best wording of title and subheading headings, then, you can use typical user questions and queries, which can be derived through suite SEO tools such as Keyword Infinity, which shows keyword-related actions. This strategy allows for user-optimized headlines, which can also be useful in strengthening rankings and appearing in the various Google Search snippets (which, as we know, is favoring content that answers questions precisely and concisely).

Tips for writing effective titles for SEO

Another element that needs to be studied is the brand: typically, the typical title tag format involves the inclusion of the company’s name, but you should actually evaluate how useful the brand can actually be for SEO and CTR. When the brand is authoritative and can make a difference it makes sense to include it in the composition of the Title Tag, otherwise it is better to make use of the available space in other ways.

SEO titles, mistakes to avoid

For sure, keyword stuffing and SEO overoptimization of keywords should also be avoided when writing the H1 title and title tag: one should think about the readers here as well, as well as try not to overdo the information to be conveyed to Google (which, theoretically, can also change the title displayed in SERPs when it thinks it is appropriate)

The rules for writing titles

Finally, there are some practical rules that must be adhered to when making effective titles for SEO: for example, Google imposes a limit of about 70 characters when displaying the title tag in SERPs, and exceeding it means that the title presented by the search engine will be truncated or changed. According to studies on the subject, when a title tag stays below 60 characters there is a 90% chance that the title will be displayed exactly as entered.

In reality, there is no precise character limit for titles because there are so many variables (such as the width of individual letters), and so we refer to the graphic display, which for Google is 600 pixels.

Graphics and visual impact are also the two factors to be evaluated for the H1 headline: in this case, one should try to achieve a good visual result in the structure of the page, avoiding text that goes to a head or is excessively long for the reader. It is better to aim for short, concise, effective and timely texts, which elegantly and simply communicate and anticipate the content of the page to the user.