SEO Title vs H1 Title; If They Fought in a Boxing Match, Who Wins?

February 13, 2015

seo title

Remember when Rocky and Apollo Creed became friends?

They started out butting heads, battling for the heavyweight title, and eventually evolved into buddies who respected one another.

That’s how you need to see these two important blog post titles I’m about to cover.

In the past, the SEO title and the H1 title struggled for supremacy in the blogging ring… But that’s ancient history.

In 2015, they work as a tag team to bring attention to your blog.

Today, you need both titles in your corner. To get the SEO title and h1 title fighting for you requires some basic knowledge about each one.

So let me introduce each “title fighter” here.  And if you’re still curious which title would win in a fight, I declare a winner at the end of this post.

In This Corner: SEO Title

When someone is talking about the “SEO title” or “search title”, “title tag” or the “meta tag”, they are referring to the titles you see in a search engine results page. In this article I’m primarily calling them “SEO title.” Here is what they look like:   seo title

The SEO title is important because it provides Google with lots of “SEO juice”, information that helps the Google bots to know what your web page is about, and it can index the page accordingly.

The SEO title is where you need to put your new keyword research knowledge to work.

You have read my four recent posts on keyword research, right? If not, its crucial you do so to get any benefit from knowing how to write SEO titles.

Here they are for easy reference:

1. Using Keywords to Kill Crickets; Help the Right People Find Your Blog–A Lot More People 

2. How to Do Keyword Research in 2015 – Lesson 2 

3. Google Keyword Planner Tool Gives Bloggers a Search Engine Advantage–For Free

4. What Keyword Research Tools Do Professional Bloggers’ Recommend in 2015?

Your keyword research results will provide you with the needed words you’ll want to include in your SEO title AND your h1 title. That’s why I encourage you to bone up on my previous keyword research articles if you haven’t yet.

Now when you write your SEO title, you still want it to be attention grabbing, compelling, specific and helpful. You want to include a benefit and only include a promise that is delivered in the article. All the same headline writing rules still apply, you just need to somehow include your keyword/phrase into the mix.

Preferably at the front of the SEO title.

Where Do You Write Your SEO Title?

Good question.

I can tell you that a WordPress user will want to get the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin to make this really easy.

Like this article explains, you do need a good plugin for your blog’s SEO unless you’re a top-notch web developer that’s good with code. Most of you reading this (including me) are not.

You don’t have hours to spend doing WordPress SEO without a plugin. So be sure to get a good WordPress SEO plugin like Yoast or some other one. (Obviously, I’m recommending Yoast without being affiliated with them.)

So here’s what you’ll see below your post editor. This is a fictitious example I’ve created, using a faux fishing blog called Super Anglers…

seo title

Using a SEO plugin makes writing the SEO title a snap.

Notice the process here… My keyword research led me to choose the keyphrase “fishing hot spots”, because it averages 1000 Google searches per month.

What I did then was add a couple of elements to the SEO title. Placing a number in the SEO title has shown to be effective in getting more click-throughs. Then localizing it to the state of Texas will help to bring in better traffic because it gets more specific.

My plugin provides a character limit of 70, which matches Google’s character limit. Any characters in the SEO title beyond 70 will not be shown on the search engine results page. It is even better to shoot for 55 characters when you write your SEO title (called Page title in the plugin above.) Studies show that length of SEO title performs best.

This is something that separates the SEO title from the headline (h1), you have less space to work with, so make every word count. A snazzy SEO title with the right keyword will stand out in the search results!

Also remember that Google likes fresh and original, so don’t repeat any of your SEO title anywhere else in your website. Always create a unique SEO title for every post.

If you do not create a seo title, Google will take your article headline and use that, which can oftentimes be too long, so it looks tacky in the search results.

It’s also helpful to include the name of your blog/website in the SEO title. This takes up characters though, so you have even less space to work with. So write the SEO title accordingly.

In This Corner: H1 Title

What’s known as the header tag (in HTML it’s called <h1>tag), is typically the headline of your post, but it can also be used on other spots of your blog page as emphasized text.

You may have noticed in your WordPress blog post editor that you can use the H1 font in addition to your post headline. For example, like making a subhead an h1.

I typically only useH1 in the headline and make my subheads…

Here’s where you find both H1 and H2 in the post editor:

seo title

H1 is the largest text so its going to stand out the most.

Writing your h1 tag, or header, is not much different than how you write your title tag. With the h1, you can make it longer, which gives you some more flexibility in crafting your words.

Some might tell you its okay to have your SEO title and your h1 the same…others will tell you Google prefers finding them to be a little different. If you pay attention to the character length of the SEO title, and keep it close to 55 characters, you will find yourself many times wanting to use some more words in your headline (h1), and that’s what I do most of the time.

Your SEO title and h1 title can be completely different. Nothing wrong with that.

Are you targeting your keywords in the H1?

To help with your SEO, you should include your targeted keywords in the headline. The practice of placing them at the front of the headline is also recommended to help with SEO, but its not something you have to do, at least not every blog post. If you are happier with a headline version that does not have the keywords at the beginning, then go ahead and use that one.

Does Google Care How Many Times You Use H1 On a Blog Post?

Yes and no. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Web Spam Team (currently on an extended leave) addressed this question in a short video not that long ago.

The H1 Header does not show up in search engines. It appears on your blog post or web page. The HTML code for the H1 is <h1>.

SEO Title vs H1 Title: Similar Style/Different Technique

Each one fights hard for your blog post, they just have some different moves about them. Both need compelling copy that is meant for the reader, yet they must stay in the ring of SEO.

Like Mohammed Ali and Mike Tyson, each has its own fighting techniques:

•The SEO Title are a higher priority when it comes to pleasing the search engines and helping your search rank

•H1 is found in the body of the blog post

•SEO Titles are seen in search engines and your web browser’s title bar–not the blog post

 Quick Tips to Using Each

•Don’t try to use more than one SEO title and h1 title per blog post. With WordPress, you won’t be able to unless you’re a web developer
•Only use your targeted keyword one time per each tag
•Put the keyword in both tags
•Place the keyword early in both tags, unless it’s just not reading right

Who Wins The Fight?

Both the SEO title and h1 title are important when it comes to your ultimate goal of getting people to read your blog.

It’s been a close fight here, as you may have noticed… If I had to pick a winner, based on the context of SEO, I would declare the SEO title to be the winner. Because it is the search engines who are the real judges of this competition, and they do clearly favor the SEO title over the h1 title.

You still need to know how to write an awesome headline, though.

What’s Your Take On This?

How have you been doing with your SEO title creations and h1 title creations? Do you have any questions? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Author Bio:

Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter


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  1. Adrienne says:    •   5 years

    Hey Matthew,

    Okay, I learned something new today or maybe not since you said that a lot of people actually use their SEO title and the Headline title as the same. That’s what I do and then put in my keywords and meta description. It’s been working well for me all this time so I guess I’m doing this right.

    Now I never put another header title in the post itself, I usually will go with H2 or H3 as my subheadings to break the post up.

    This was a good lesson though, thank you for clearing that up. I’ve always been upfront about not being someone who pays a lot of attention to SEO mainly because I don’t write my posts to be found in Google. I quit trying to please them years ago because I constantly failed.

    Great share and thanks for the instructions.


    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   5 years Author

      Hi Adrienne,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m serious when I say this: an engagement superstar like you probably doesn’t need Google much. 🙂
      I’m glad you found this helpful.

  2. SEO calgary says:    •   4 years

    SEO titles can yield good result and I have personal experience about the same. There are so much I could learn from the article and will continue learning more about SEO.

  3. Carolyn says:    •   3 years

    Good Lord I’m drowning in all there is to learn about internet optimization! I read this article and didn’t understand a word (#newbiehere)… I will have to go through it (and all the articles attached to it) much slower and more carefully a few more times. I can write blog posts all day but I hate trying to figure out how to get people to read them. It’s overwhelming to me. Thank you for sharing because I need it…but, AHHHH!!!! I guess I’ll just hide in a hole for the next year learning how to work all this while somehow trying to keep posting, take care of 4 kids, and be a wife. Anyone want to volunteer to do my SEO for me??