H1 vs H2 Header Tag: What’s the Difference In SEO

This search engine optimization (SEO) guide explains the H1 vs H2 header tag.

As you’ll discover below, H2 and H1 heading tags have separate purposes for search engines and website users. And knowing the difference between H1 and H2 tags for SEO will help you understand how to use each HTML element correctly to increase your rankings and traffic.

There’s also a section with additional digital marketing resources that explain more about the fundamentals of H1 and H2 header tags text to help you create the most effective search engine optimization strategy.

H1 vs H2 Header Tag

What Is the Difference Between H1 and H2 Tag?

The main difference between an H1 and H2 tag is that the H1 tag is the main heading for the content that explains the main topic for the page while the H2 tag is a subheading used to break up the content sections for the reader.

H1 vs H2 Header Tag Comparison

The comparison table below shows the key differences between the H1 and H2 header tags in an easy-to-understand format. After the table, I’ll explain each factor individually.

ParameterH1 TagH2 Tag
DefinitionThe top-level heading in HTML structure that uses the <h1> header tag.The second-level heading in HTML structure that uses the <h2> header tag.
PurposeTo provide a title for the content on a web page and describe the main topic for the reader.To break up the sections of the content to improve readability.
Optimal Character Limit70 or fewer60 or fewer
Number Per Page1Unlimited
Can It Be OptimizedYesYes
SEO Ranking FactorYesYes

What Is an H1 Tag?

An H1 tag is the level 1 header in an HTML document that uses the <h1> heading code. The H1 tag is typically the largest of the heading tags and is used for the title of the content and crawled by search engine spiders to understand the topic of the page to determine relevance for search queries.

Note: The H1 tag is not the same as the meta title tag <title>.  Title tags are displayed in the web browser tab and the search results snippets for web pages in Google, Yahoo, and Bing while H1 tags are visible within the content of the page for users to read.

H1 Tag Details

Purpose

The primary purpose of the H1 tag is to inform visitors and search engine crawlers about the main topic of the page. The secondary purpose is to improve the on-page SEO relevancy signals for the primary keywords the content is targeting.

Optimal Character Limit

There’s no maximum character limit for the H1 tag; however, the best practice for SEO and user experience is 70 characters or fewer. Having a longer H1 tag can dilute the keyword relevancy for this HTML element and make it hard to read for users.

Number Per Page

Proper HTML structure includes only using one H1 tag per page. Having a single H1 header makes it clear to the reader and search engine crawlers what the content is about and also helps people who use screen readers to effectively navigate the article.

Can It Be Optimized?

H1 tags can be optimized for search engines and users by including target keywords in this field. Properly optimized H1 tags should provide a clear overview of the page’s main topic while also including the primary keyword and at least one secondary keyword.

Is It a Ranking Factor?

The H1 tag is a ranking factor for SEO. Search engines like Google will crawl the content inside the H1 tag to help understand the context of the web page.

What Is an H2 Tag?

An H2 tag is the level 2 header in an HTML document that uses the <h2> subheading code. The H2 tag is typically the second-largest of the heading tags and is used to denote a subsection within the content and is crawled by search engine spiders to understand the subtopics of the page to determine relevance for search queries.

H2 Tag Details

Purpose

The primary purpose of the H2 tag is to break up the sections of the content to define information hierarchy while also improving readability for the user. The secondary purpose is to improve the on-page relevancy signals for the secondary keywords the content is targeting for SEO.

Optimal Character Limit

There’s no maximum character limit for the H2 header tag; however, the best practice for SEO and user experience is 60 characters or fewer. Having a long H2 subheading tag can dilute the keyword relevancy for this HTML element and make it hard for users to read.

Number Per Page

You can have as many H2 tags as you like on the page depending on the number of subtopics that are relevant to the content. Having multiple H2 header tags is not an issue for SEO.

Can It Be Optimized?

H2 tags can be optimized for search engines and users by including target keywords in these HTML fields. Properly optimized H2 tags should describe the subtopics for the reader while also including the secondary keywords for SEO.

Is It a Ranking Factor?

The H2 tag is a ranking factor for SEO. Search engines like Google will crawl the text inside the H2 subheadings to determine the subtopics for the web page to help rank the content for relevant search queries.

Which Is Better H1 or H2?

The H1 is better than H2 for search engine optimization because the H1 tag is a stronger ranking factor for SEO. H1 tags contain the main keywords and describe the subject matter for the content, which search engine algorithms analyze for indexing and ranking.

Additionally, the H1 header may be displayed in the search engine results pages for a website listing if the algorithms determine that the H1 text is more relevant for the user than the meta title tag.

Is It OK to Have H2 Before H1?

It is OK to have an H2 before H1 on the page because the order of HTML headings does not matter to the user. However, proper HTML structure for headings includes an H1 tag followed by an H2 tag.

Learn More About H1 and H2 Tags

The links below explain more about H1 and H2 tags and how to use them correctly for better search engine optimization. Use these resources to expand your knowledge on the subject.

Summary for H1 vs H2 Tag In SEO

I hope you enjoyed this guide on H1 vs H2 tag in SEO.

As you learned, the main difference between an H1 and H2 tag is that the H1 tag is the main heading for the content that explains the main topic for the page while the H2 is a subheading used to break up the content sections for the reader.

However, both HTML elements are beneficial for your website when used together with their intended purposes in mind. Instead of just choosing the H2 or H1 header tag to optimize for SEO, you should follow the best practices for both elements to improve the user experience and on-page search engine optimization signals for higher rankings in the SERPs.

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