Header use in Designs
A heartfelt advice to WP designers, please don’t throw headings around like candy! As a web content editor it drives me nuts when I’ve found a nice theme, and then it turns out that the designer has “hidden” a bunch of H1s in the header . All though headings are by no means a crucial SEO element good practice when creating content is to use h1 etc. sparingly, so when the header “supplies” 2-3 h1s for each page it messes with the distribution of keywords on site!
Hi there—thanks for the note. Did you see any themes on WP.com that had inconsistent heading styles? If so, we’d like to fix them.
Hi Lance, I’ve seen this in several themes, having to do “detective work” to locate the H1s hidden in the design. At the moment I’m using Twenty Eleven 1.2 for a site, and the Site Title (as well as “Page Name”) is in H1 and the site description is in H2. As I’m concerned with creating SEO friendly content I’d like to avoid to have duplicate headings on several pages.
It would be better to ask these kind of questions at WordPress.org support at http://wordpress.org/support/
On WordPress.com you can not edit themes but on WordPress you can do so.
In this case the WordPress.com Theme Team created the Twenty Eleven theme so I believe that why this dialog between vibelingo and lance (Staff) is being posted here.
@timethief As (s)he wrote Twenty Eleven 1.2, I thought that this question has nothing to do with WP.COM and also, he has no WordPress.com blogs now.
I don’t think 2011, or 2010 were done by the theme team here. I think they were actually created by the wordpress core developers since they were/are the default themes for all wordpress (self-hosted, multi-site, and here (which is multi-site +)).
(This is a bit off-topic for this thread, but in short: yes, we worked on both Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven, in conjunction with core developers and many volunteers in the community that contributed patches, testing help, and bug reports.)
To speak to the actual question brought up originally— @vibelingo offers an opinion on usage of headings in general, in WP themes. I think it’s a valid point of view, and something we pay very careful attention to in our themes.
Thanks for clarifying.
I think it’s a valid point of view, and something we pay very careful attention to in our themes.
Would you care to comment on the H1 headings in the context of the version of the Twenty Eleven theme we use here at WordPress.com?
@timethief Yes. :)
If you really want to learn the full history of the current headings markup in Twenty Eleven, grab a big mug of tea or coffee (or something stronger!) and go read the comments and links in this WordPress core ticket: http://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/17611.
The summary is that for Twenty Eleven specifically, and for any WP theme using HTML5 correctly—like Toolbox—it’s fine to have multiple h1 headings in the document outline as long as they are organized correctly.
HTML5 allows for container elements like “section”, “nab”, “aside”, and “article” to be nested within the page structure, acting as subsections in the document outline. Each subsection can have its own heading hierarchy, starting over at h1 and going to h6. There aren’t any proven SEO penalties for this type of markup structure, and it’s the recommended method for HTML5 documents.
In HTML5 documents you’ll often see an h1 and h2 used for the entire site structure (to hold the site title and description, perhaps) and then you’ll see another h1 and h2 used in subsections (h1 for post title and h2 for the author name, maybe). This type of nesting of headings within subsections is new to HTML with HTML5—and it doesn’t hurt the organization of the document or remove value from the top-level h1 that holds the site title.
In older themes that don’t use this type of subsection structure, like Twenty Ten, you’ll see in that the markup changes based on what page you’re on to avoid having multiple h1 elements in one page. With Twenty Eleven we matched that technique in certain content areas like widgets and navigation links (see notes on that in the above-linked core ticket).
Side note: If you write HTML often, or like to think about improvements coming to new versions of HTML, I very highly recommend Jeremy Keith’s excellent book, http://www.abookapart.com/products/html5-for-web-designers.
Lance, thanks for taking the time to educate us on this.
I would assume that the search engines will adjust to HTML5 and the new ways of doing things and that they will not penalize people since it is part of HTML5.
Pot of coffee at the ready, I’m off to read the core ticket.
I should clarify that it hasn’t been proven that multiple h1 headings in one page is harmful for SEO, in any version of HTML. Matt Cutts from Google has answered that question clearly: see this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIn5qJKU8VM.
I think overall a more important concern than SEO is a making sure your page has a logical structure. A clearly defined page structure helps present your content in an organized way to both devices *and* people.
Are you clearly ware that Lance (Theme Wrangler) is on Staff and does know whereof he speaks?
Thanks Lance, for the update regarding Heading use in themes. It has been “best SEO practice” to keep H1s to a minimum per page, as Cutts points out if it is logical to have more for various sections, more than one is not a problem. On the whole,I think it is preferable that web editors can have more control on headings in Themes as they are still important to how you structure the hierarchy of your on page content.
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