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I'm trying to develop a new website in HTML5 adhering to SEO standards where possible and I'm having a little trouble trying to figure out what tag my site name and slogan should live in.

Originally I had my site name in a <h1> tag and my sloagan in a <h2>, but soon realised this wasn't fitting with the "each page is a separate document/article" approach.

The site name is the largest text on the page (sometimes the same as my article heading), but I've currently got the text in a <p> tag with CSS doing all the styling work.

My questions is, what should I do with the site name and slogan? Is the <h1> appropriate, then use another <h1> tag for each page title or should I continue using the styled <p> tag? Or should I convert this into an image and use that for the site name/slogan?

(Side note: on my index page I want the site name and slogan to be <h1> and <h2>respectively as this makes sense with the homepage...)

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    It is incorrect to use any form of header for a slogan or tagline, you should opt to use <span> or <div>. W3C introduced <hgroup> for the use of two headers but it was quickly removed and was widely agreed that a tagline/slogan isn't a header. You should also avoid using <p> as this implies a paragraph of text which a tagline/slogan is most likely shorter which will make it more ideal in div or span. – Simon Hayter Jul 20 '14 at 21:03
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For SEO, there is a cascading effect from external inbound links, through the title tag, h1 tag, and description tag and so on. While you do not always have control over the inbound links, you have control over on-page optimization so here goes:

Your title tag should be a short and unique title of each page. It should be succinct and optimally limited to about 50 characters if possible to control how it appears in the SERPs and that it will be used rather than having Google pick a new title when the title tag is too long.

Your h1 tag should differ but be related to the title tag. It should be longer than the title tag and should be conversational meaning sentence like. Your title tag can also be conversational, but the h1 tag should be longer if even only slightly. Never duplicate the title tag in the h1 tag. It is optimal from an SEO perspective to only use one h1 tag. You can use more than one, however, to avoid confusion, one h1 tag is best.

Your description meta-tag should be related to your title tag and h1 tag. It should also be conversational but even longer yet. Optimally, it should take 2 lines in the SERPs if possible.

When looking at the SERPs, you should see the title tag used as the link and the description meta-tag as the snippet using a site:domain.tld search. As searches occur, Google may change the snippet, but should always keep the title tag as the link if done right. Both should be tuned to grab the attention of the user and entice the user to visit your site and read your content.

For each, the title tag, the h1 tag, and the description meta-tag, you want to utilize your most important keywords for each page. Within the h1 tag and the description meta-tag, you should be using your secondary related important keywords. Your keywords, as much as possible, should be used from left to right first in the order of importance. This means that as the search engine parses these tags, it will see your keyword importance from left to right and that the keywords are used first as much as possible. Of course, you do not want to list keywords. Search engines can see word lists and will reject them outright, but used naturally in a conversational way.

Your most important keywords should cascade from link->title tag->h1 tag->description meta-tag->top level content. Your secondary keywords should cascade from link(where possible)->h1 tag->description meta-tag->top level content.

This is the general formula for good performance in search engines. Make your tags conversational and do not keyword load your tags. Also, do not appear to be listing keywords. Search engines are looking for honest and natural uses of tags and content. If you are following that rule, you will out-rank everyone for the keywords that naturally exist within content. Today, and especially with Google, search engines are rewarding tags that appear not to manipulate keywords but are made for humans. I have tested this and I assure you that search engines, and especially with Google, your pages will perform properly and that keywords that appear deep within your content will be found.

I have not covered content. If you use other header tags, order your content and optimize your header tags from top to bottom in the order of importance especially keyword importance. Simply placing a header tag and paragraphs higher within the content, will raise the importance of what is found within them.

To answer your question specifically: You do not want too much repetitive content in your tags from page to page. You can brand your title tag with your domain name of course. You would likely do this at the end of your title tag. I do not suggest using a slogan. This is because you will be pushing out/down the important keywords for each page. You can use a slogan, I just do not recommend it. This would mean that your pages would unnaturally rank for your slogan and not for what they should rank for. If you do use a slogan, perhaps the description meta-tag would be the best place. SEO wisdom is not to dilute the performance of any page and to ensure that search engines know how to index and serve each page in the SERPs. Remember that most SEO advice found on the web is parroting bad advice and me too discovery de' jure bloggers who often do not have a full grasp of the internals. Most of what is a year old or more will get you into trouble so be careful.

I hope that helps you plan your work!

  • Thank you for the comprehensive answer :) I think after reading through what you have said, it would make sense to remove the slogan anyway. It doesn't provide much help to the user or SEO and I could incorporate a form of it in the title tag for the homepage. – Ant Moore Jul 20 '14 at 18:50
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    Yes. You've got it! You can also use the slogan in each page of the site if you are using an image/logo kinda/sorta thing. I have seen slogans as image tags that do not dilute the SEO performance of the most important tags, but includes the slogan anyway. Sometimes it is just an image without the slogan in the alt text, but page important keywords. Still, the effect of the slogan sinks into the mind psychologically speaking. – closetnoc Jul 20 '14 at 19:07
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My questions is, what should I do with the site name and slogan?
Is the <h1> appropriate, then use another <h1> tag for each page title
or should I continue using the styled <p> tag?
Or should I convert this into an image and use that for the site name/slogan?

From an SEO perspective, it is a bit better to use <h1> and <h2>, as they will be interpreted as more important text in your pages, unless you use them abusively all over the place. But, it is not dramatic if you don't use them too. It won't hurt you from a SEO perspective.

You could easily move your css to <h1> and <h2>, or apply it by specifying a class. Something like:

<h1 class="myCss">My Site Name</h1>

In all cases, don't convert these into an image, unless you set a proper alt text. However, using <h1> and <h2> remains a bit better from a SEO perspective if you can implement these.

Regarding:

Originally I had my site name in a <h1> tag and my sloagan in a <h2>,
but soon realised this wasn't fitting with the "each page is a separate
document/article" approach.

The <h1>, <h2>, <h3>... hierarchy has nothing to do with your page hierarchy. You can use such tags as you want on each page, separately.

  • My concern with this approach is that each page will have it's own respective title (such as "Sign Up", "Log In" or "Dashboard"), I felt these needed to live in <h1> tags, but if my site name is using a <h1> tag, I'll end up with two.. My understanding of this is that it is extremely bad practice? – Ant Moore Jul 20 '14 at 18:07
  • Not at all, it is not a bad practice to have <h1> on many pages. You will never hurt yourself with that from a SEO perspective. However, I would avoid using many <h1> on a single page, unless it really makes sense. If you don't know about the 'title' meta tag, you also need to learn about it, because this is what search engines will use when displaying your pages in search results. – Jérôme Verstrynge Jul 20 '14 at 18:12
  • It's bad practice to use images as headers even with correct alt tag usage. It was been mentioned by Matt Cutts several times that people should avoid using indent:-9999em or similar. – Simon Hayter Jul 20 '14 at 21:05
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There is no hard and fast rule as to how to do it. However, I would like to answer this question in relation to what webmasters.stackexchange.com do with relation to its page design.

They put the site name (no slogan) and logo in an image and wrapped it in an <a> tag with a link to the home page. The questions (apparently an important component of the page title) is wrapped in an <h1> with the schama.org marker for question.

This appears to be search engine friendly approach, apparent from the search engine traffic the site receives.

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