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I have read that I should make the contents of my <title> and <h1> tags the same.

Is that the case or is does Google look at the content of those 2 tags separately?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

No, the page title and h1 does not have to be exactly the same, but you should consider having the most important terms in both places.

Having a particular word in the page title, h1 and content is considered good SEO practice, but duplicating the entire title is not needed unless all words in the title is actually important search terms.

The title is what people judge it on 'from afar' like seeing it on Google, so it can make sense to be more verbose in titles. The h1 on the other hand is for people already on the page and therefor it can be much more to the point. You should not 'sacrifice' that option for SEO.

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Typically yes, but the text does not need to match exactly.
If I was structuring your blog, I would do something like this (similiar to Grant's advice):

Homepage:

<title>Random Ben | A Life In The Software World</title>
<h1>Random Ben</h1>

Content Page:

<title>Why Apple's iTV MIGHT Change Everything | RandomBen.com</title>
<h1>Why Apple's iTV MIGHT Change Everything</h1>
  • Consider your title tag when thinking about search results/bookmarks, etc. (from John Conde's post)
  • Organize your heading tags like an outline. (from Google)
  • Use heading tags sparingly. (from Google)

Source: Google's SEO Starter Guide

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I would not suggest using h2 instead of h1 just because some browser vendor did a fail. h1 and h2 have meaning, and ignoring that in the name of presentation is a whee bit too pragmatic (at least for my taste). –  mawtex Aug 29 '10 at 1:02
    
mawtex is right, if the H1 is "too big" then you need to set it to a more appropriate size using CSS. –  DisgruntledGoat Aug 29 '10 at 12:07
    
Ok, fine, I removed that consideration. –  James Lawruk Aug 30 '10 at 13:04
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The h1 would contain the title for the current page, and isn't shown in search results or on bookmarks. For those purposes, the title is the element to optimize.

What I like to do is have the title start with the page title (the h1content, reduced if necessary), followed by the site name, possibly with the section of the site, if applicable, in between. I find this produces the most meaningful bookmarks and search engine results.

Some sites show the site name first, then the page title, which isn't as helpful.

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There's so much more to building a page then SEO. I wish SEO websites would keep that in mind when making suggestions like that.

Typically the <h1> tag is to contain the title of the page (which should summarize the content on the page). Well, the <title> tag does that, too. They're sort of redundant in that regard. But because the <title> is what a user sees in the taskbar (in Windows) and is what is saved in bookmarks (if they don't change it), you may want to make the <title>shorter for readability in the taskbr or as a bookmark.

As far as SEO goes, just make sure they each contain keywords that accurately describe what the content is about. Each is weighed individually as they should be.

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I'd add that the Title is what shows up in search engine results, so should as you say clearly communicate the content of the page and, if you can do it without wrecking usability of the title, be attractive to someone choosing from search results. –  JasonBirch Aug 27 '10 at 20:27
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