The PurpleInternet Marketing series: The ten biggest search engine optimisation mistakes – No.5

‘H1 tags’ were originally introduced to aid the formatting of HTML documents.

They literally mean ‘Heading Size 1’ which is generally the biggest-sized font used online.

However, because their presence indicate a page heading with larger text, many search engines have decided to count this as a significant part of the ranking that deems what the page content is about. It is therefore recommended to feature your main keyword phrase for that page in the heading.

Why text-based image headings are ‘bad’

However, when web pages became more creative, many website owners started to dislike the look and feel of large, plain text. Instead they used text images. Although images are nearly guaranteed to display the same on ever computer while the display of text is dependent on an individual computer’s settings, text is a lot friendlier for search engines.

Apart from ‘alt tags’ and the image file name, images contain no definitive data about what they contain. File names and ‘alt tags’ can be manipulated to indicate that the content they contain may be something other than that which is actually featured.

This means that search engines may always be wary of images as a method of displaying a page title.

The ‘content’ of text can never be hidden.

Some search engines have therefore deemed that text-based headings are more likely to feature information on their pages that is relevant to a web search made. All things being equal, web pages that contain text-based headings are therefore more likely to appear higher in search engines compared with websites of a similar nature and popularity that rely on image based headings.

Don’t just use size attributes

Many page titles, although text-based still don’t maximise their appeal to search engines because they only use ‘size attributes’.

As in the following example, the text will appear large and in bold – as if it were a page title, but it wouldn’t carry as much weight with search engines as pages that contain the heading attribute.

Example 1: Business

In the second example that follows, the HTML will display the text in exactly the same look and size. This example, however, does contain the heading attribute, and all things being equal will be more popular with many search engines.

Example 2:


So what can be learned from the above examples?

Websites shouldn’t be designed just for their look and feel. Equally they shouldn’t be designed just for search engines. In the two examples above, the different HTML code used in each example produces the same results.

Web pages that have been overly ‘optimised’ for search engines don’t read so well for visitors. Additionally, such pages will eventually be banned from listings. However, with a bit of thought and creativity, web pages can be built with both visitors and search engines in mind. Using the H1 Tag effectively is a good example.

Contact David Bain at

Tomorrow: The PurpleInternet Marketing series: The ten biggest search engine optimisation mistakes – No.6: No alt or title tags.