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Let's say the page has an <h1> tag with the title:

<h1>Page title</h1>

and then in the post content there is an HTML tutorial which has an <h1> tag which is encoded:

&lt;h1&gt;Example&lt;h1&gt;

Does this affect SEO?

Would Google consider the second one also as an <h1> tag and get confused about which is the real or correct <h1> heading?

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That's what <code> is for –  The Disintegrator Oct 28 '12 at 11:46
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3 Answers

The <h1>Page title</h1> is parsed as HTML code and so is part of the hierarchy or outline of the document, the &lt;h1&gt;Example&lt;h1&gt; is parsed as text since there is no tag associated.

Google will see the content in both lines, but understands that one is something important and the other one is not; adds to the word density, but is not important for the structure. So it does not affect the SEO. one appearance of the encoded text is not significative to increase the importance that the H1 gives and is not enough to be considered as an attempt to pump the relevance of the word in the document.

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Both are correct, Google bots read everything and "translate", if we can use the word, the HTML entities into text and vice versa, so &.copy; = © = &.copy; and notice here the point I added after the "&" because even this community website understands the entity in the message and converts it to © :)

So, No this does not affect the SEO of the page.

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if both are correct, then google will see 2 h1 headings, instead of only the first one which is the correct one. And if it sees 2 h1 headings then seo changes doesnt it ? –  Silver Moon Oct 28 '12 at 6:03
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If you view source on your question, you'll see the answer for yourself. Code rendered as text - that is, shown on page as content - is just text. It isn't processed by a browser or search engine as code. For example:

<h1>This</h1>

By way of comparison, this comment field allows me to use plain text shortcuts to use actual HTML formatting, like the asterisks that I used to italicise the word "actual" or the equals signs I used to make this

Heading

That's a real <h1> heading, and will be seen as such by a search engine.

In short, if you can see the HTML on the rendered page, it's not being seen by a search engine as code and, therefore, isn't influencing SEO as code.

Incidentally, if there were 2 actual <h1> headings, a search engine would not be confused about which one is "real or correct" – they're both real, and both correct (there's no reason a page can't have 2 <h1> headings).

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