Understanding Header Tags: The DIY Guide to Search Engine Optimization
The DIY Guide to SEO – Part 5 – Header Tags
This is one part of a multi-part series of articles for on-page search engine optimization.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, we just want to point out that there are a gazillion things you can do to try to improve your search results, but we are just going to focus on the most important on-page SEO tactics that any user (not developer or SEO expert) can do themselves.
Don’t forget to download the complimentary DIY SEO Checklist.
PRO TIP: Header tags are the hidden gems of on-page SEO. Don’t neglect them!
What are Header Tags?
Header tags (not to be confused with the h1 – h6 headING tags) are behind the scenes code that is included in the header section of your website. There are several different types of tags, each with its own function. Their main purpose is to pass on information. By using header tags you can set things like the location of your business, the page title and description that shows up in search engine results, your Facebook and other social share images and description, amongst others.
The title tag is one of THE MOST important SEO features on your website. The title tag is the title that actually shows up in the search engine result. While it’s tempting to name your pages “about us” or “products”, you are missing a valuable opportunity to not only better entice your readers to click, but to bump up your rankings by including keywords in your page titles. Page titles with searched terms in them will appear higher in the search results. Keep in mind that only the first 60 characters of a page title will be displayed, so keep your title concise.
<title>Your Awesome Title Tag</title>
TIP: It’s important to have a unique title for every page of your website.
The meta description is the small bit of text that sits below the page title in the search results. It’s another awesome spot to incorporate key search terms and to woo your visitor into coming to your website, but be concise because you only have 160 characters.
<meta name=”description” content=”Your awesome description here.”>
A geo tag is a specially formatted bit of code that identifies the physical location of your business. You set the code yourself so it’s up to you if you want to identify with a full street address, or simply a city. The geo tag isn’t necessarily needed for online or global businesses, but is a must have for any local business. Search engines will use this information and adjust the search results based on the user’s location. Ever been in a city and searched for pizza delivery? Chances are you’ll probably receive results of pizza places near you. That’s geo tagging.
A geo tag is super easy to generate by using any of the free online tools that will auto-generate the code. You just copy and paste that into the header section of your website.
Here’s what the complete geo tag set for SpaceX in California looks like:
<meta name=”geo.region” content=”US-CA” />
<meta name=”geo.placename” content=”Hawthorne” />
<meta name=”geo.position” content=”33.920691;-118.328139″ />
<meta name=”ICBM” content=”33.920691, -118.328139″ />
Implementing Header Tags
Header tags go in the header section of your website (sounds pretty obvious). There are a couple different methods of getting them to where they need to be:
Use a plugin: Many SEO plugins will automatically place your page title and description meta data right into your header. The two most popular are Yoast and All in One SEO Pack. There are also geo-tag plugins available as well.
Manually add them to your theme’s header.php file: If you are comfortable editing your website’s files, you can simply add in the header tag data directly into your header.php file. If you do go this route, we strongly recommend creating a copy of header.php file into a child theme to prevent your changes from being overwritten when your theme updates.
To find your header.php file go to wp-content -> themes -> [name of theme you are using] -> header.php
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About the Author
Jessica is the Director of Digital Marketing and Owner of Dohmain Designs. She is a small business sales and marketing expert specializing in business growth through intelligent website design and sales & marketing automation.
Jessica is a Certified Infusionsoft Partner, marketing automation and CRM expert with over 15 years of professional sales and marketing experience. In 2011, she combined that experience with innovative website design and created Dohmain Designs. She has worked with biotech giants, overseen the digital marketing for a popular Discovery Channel hit TV series, and helped hundreds of clients grow their business. Prior to creating Dohmain Designs, Jessica worked in the fast-paced biotech sector focusing primarily on technical sales and marketing, as well as providing complicated sales-focused CRM training across various disciplines.
Jessica is a member of her local Rotary Club where she has previously served as the Membership co-chair and currently serves as the Public Relations chair. Jessica truly believes in the "Service Above Self" Rotarian philosophy and strives to dedicate her time and talents to helping others, both in her personal and professional relationships.
She is located in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area and works with clients all across North America. If you'd like to get in touch with Jessica, simply complete the contact form below.