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I'm currently building a site, that contains tabs (Bootstrap) for the articles. I dont want to show headings in the articles, because the tabs work as headings for the user.

But the tab buttons are inside a nav element so they are not related to the content.

If I outline my document all the articles are untitled. If I add headings and hide them, Google hates me. What would be the best practice? Does it make a difference, if my articles have headings?

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2 Answers

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As far as I am concerned, heading tags (H1, H2, etc) are optional for good SEO. Google's algorithms today put much less emphasis in on-page SEO factors. In fact, Google is now penalizing for over-use of keywords (keyword stuffing), much more often.

Three years ago, if you wanted to rank for a keyword you would create a page targeted at that keyword. You would use the keyword in the title, the headings, the meta description, and several times in the body of the page. You would link to that page heavily internally, using the keyword as anchor text. You would build links to that page from external sites, also with the keyword as anchor text.

Today that is a recipe for disaster.

Today you want to build several pages around that keyword, covering all aspects of that keyword. You want to use the keyword and its synonyms in title tags, but not as the title tag, as part of a phrase. You want to use the keyword when appropriate in the text, but being careful not to appear to put it in when it wouldn't sound natural. You want to link the pages together. You want to get external links, but use anchor text that is more natural such as longer phrases, your domain name, and "click here".

In today's Google algorithm, heading tags may be slightly helpful, but they can hurt when used badly, and they are not required.

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What about screen readers and stuff? Does this mean what is good for screenreaders isnt neccessarily good for google? –  Lord_Mord Feb 28 '13 at 14:39
    
Many things that you do to make your site crawlable for search engines help for screen readers. However, a "skip header" link is recommended for screen readers. Something like that has never been needed for SEO. The two are really separate concerns in most ways. –  Stephen Ostermiller Feb 28 '13 at 14:59
    
Yes I know, but in this case it looks like a decision. Google dont likes headings anymore, that are like keywords. But for a person with a screen reader I think that would be helpful. Maybe not. Im not blind, I dont know. Thanks for your answers, anyway. I think I will remove the headings and should read a bit about SEO. –  Lord_Mord Feb 28 '13 at 15:33
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Think your mistaken about how HTML5 Works. If the NAV element is within the Article Tag then its related. In fact using NAV within an Article can be good SEO. There is no limit on how many NAV elements you can use while using less is better for markup and keeping the code as minimal as possible its still allowed and you will not be punished for it.

For example:

<html>
<body>
<header>
    <div id="logo">
        <h1>I am the site name</h1>
    </div>
    <nav>
         <ul>
             <li>Site Menu 1</li>
             <li>Site Menu 2</li>
             <li>Site Menu 3</li>          
        </ul>
    </nav>
</header>
<aside>
    <nav>
         <ul>
            <li>Sidebar Menu 1</li>
            <li>Sidebar Menu 2</li>
            <li>Sidebar Menu 3</li>          
        </ul>
    </nav>
</side>
<article>
    <header>
        <nav>
             <ul>
                <li><h1>Tab 1</h1></li>
                <li><h2>Tab 2</h2></li>
                <li><h3>Tab 3</h3></li>
            </ul>
        </nav>
    </header>
    <div id="tabcontent">
        <p>I am the tabbed content</p>
    </div>
    <footer>
        <p>You can include some additional information here which is always invisible on all 3 tabs</p>
    </footer>
</article>
<footer>
    <div id="copyright">Copyright Information</div>
</div>
</body>
</html>
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Wouldn't you want those H1 tags inside anchor (<a>) tags? It really looks like there are three h1 tags in that page. –  Stephen Ostermiller Feb 28 '13 at 13:51
    
Yes there should be anchors inside the Header tags but I failed to add them as I thought this would be obvious to trigger the tabs. Also you can have more than H1, with HTML5 this becomes even better marked up since you have site header h1, then h1 header in the article, and you could even use a h1 in the footer. –  bybe Feb 28 '13 at 14:09
    
I'd be worried about using a header tag in a nav element on a link to some other page. In that case the content inside the heading tag wouldn't be related to the current page. I could see using a single H1 tag inside the nav for the current page and making the other ones be links. –  Stephen Ostermiller Feb 28 '13 at 14:12
    
It's not linking to another page since the tab content uses a on page link #tab1, #tab2 trigger. –  bybe Feb 28 '13 at 14:13
    
HTML5 uses HGROUP which means the others become subheaders and less important, you don't need hgroup in all situations as far as I know reading on HTML5 Doctor. –  bybe Feb 28 '13 at 14:18
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