Jason Hennessey

Should You Focus Your Digital Marketing Budget on SEO or PPC Ads?

Should You Focus Your Digital Marketing Budget on SEO or PPC Ads?As a digital marketing expert, I’m often asked whether it’s better to use your digital marketing budget to improve search engine optimization (SEO) or to purchase pay-per-click advertising (PPC). The truth is that both can be excellent, so the right answer isn’t that simple. It depends on what makes the most sense for your business.

Search engine optimization describes actions you can take to improve your website’s ranking on search engine results pages for keywords related to your business. It’s an important part of your marketing strategy, because you want anyone who Googles the name of your business to find your website easily. But beyond that, a strong website with excellent SEO will draw in traffic, which can convert to leads and result in more revenue for you.

The traffic your website draws in through SEO is organic, meaning that users are searching for and finding your website of their own accord. They might type into Google, “physical therapists near me,” or a question related to your business, and when the search results show them a page from your website, they click on it. That means you need to apply strategic tactics to create an effective website that increases the ability to appear at the top of the search results page.

Pay-per-click advertising, on the other hand, describes advertisements you can purchase that will be shown to a targeted demographic who are likely to fit the profile of your ideal lead or client. You pay a small amount each time someone clicks on the ad, rather than paying a larger sum to show the ad to a broader audience. I’m sure you see them all the time. These ads show up at the top of the Google search, and your ad’s rank on that page is determined by the keywords you choose. You can “bid” on keywords, choosing how much you pay based on how competitive the ads for that keyword might be.

Surely you can see how useful pay-per-click ads can be: You’re only paying for more likely leads, people interested enough to click on your ad. And because the ads are targeting a specific audience, you’re more likely to find potential customers. PPC can be further customized with negative keywords, location targeting, video ads, and more.

So which is better—SEO or PPC? The truth is, you likely need both. SEO works cumulatively, so the longer you do it on a consistent basis, the better your results will be. Because of that, it can take a while to increase the views on your website from SEO alone. If you don’t regularly monitor and make adjustments, publish fresh new content, and keep the technical side of your website up-to-date and running smoothly, you might not get very far bringing in new traffic. PPC ads are a great way to bring in traffic right away, as ads can be served up to your target audience immediately.

On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to rely on PPC alone. It’s important to invest in your website to ensure it runs smoothly, has excellent page speed, and provides a good user experience, so that when users do click on your ads, they’re more likely to stay on your website.

Think of it this way: SEO is a long game, like paying a mortgage—it takes a while to pay it off, but you gain equity as you go. It builds on itself, allowing your website to grow and gain more organic traffic as it improves. However, PPC advertising is like “renting” traffic from Google. You get the traffic you need now, but it isn’t cumulative, and if you stop paying for the ads, that stream of traffic will die out.

Even though PPC ads can be incredibly effective, I encourage everyone to invest in their SEO as well. Understand that if you don’t treat your SEO like an ongoing project, it will fail. I like to say it’s like maintaining a lawn—you need to water and mow it regularly.

If you do use PPC ads, ensure that the data communicates with your SEO efforts, such as your website and your Google My Business listing (your listing that appears on Google Maps). Integrating these things is important so that Google’s algorithm understands how they relate to each other, which will help improve your SEO.

Because both SEO and PPC can be excellent methods to increase your website’s traffic and gain new leads, I recommend tracking where your leads are coming from, and the cost to acquire a new client. Gather information about every lead you gain, whether they came from organic search, ads, or something else. Then break down the amount you’re spending on SEO and PPC.  Which is more cost-effective for your business? Once you understand the cost of acquiring a new client, you can determine where to focus your marketing efforts to get the maximum results out of your marketing budget.

Boost Your Company’s Talent Magnetism: Five Ways to Keep Your Top Employees and Maximize Their Productivity

Boost Your Company’s Talent Magnetism:

For company growth and stability, your most valuable asset is your team. Your company can’t run without them, and the cost of hiring and training means that you invest well in your team members from the start. In fact, the average cost to replace an employee is six to nine months’ worth of that employee’s salary! Nevertheless, many businesses struggle with employee retention. Here are some tips to boost your company’s magnetism to help you retain your top talent, keeping them happy and doing their best work.

  1. Give them expanded vision and purpose

Your company’s vision plays a key role in both retaining and attracting employees. Everyone needs a sense of purpose to drive them. You’ve probably written a purpose or vision statement already, but I encourage you to revisit it and ask yourself a few questions. If you haven’t written one yet, keep these in mind as you do.

  1. Is the vision clearly communicated?
  2. Is it clear why what we do matters?
  3. Can team members understand how their role is important to the larger vision?
  4. Is this vision something that team members can get excited about, which will give them a sense of purpose in their role?

Talented people who are driven and motivated want to have a purpose to anchor their work. No one wants to complete tasks without meaning, so it’s vital that you can communicate to employees how their role is important to the overall vision of the company, and how that vision matters. It’s best if your vision is anchored in something outside the company itself—helping your clients and ultimately making the world a better place. It needs to be something your team can rally behind that will allow them to understand how their roles lead to meaningful work.

  1. Empower responsibility and leadership through every level of your business

Your company’s leadership style plays a big role in your company culture and in the happiness and productivity of your team. There are many different leadership styles, from top-down to collaborative leadership, and it greatly impacts the way your company functions. Regardless of how you structure your team, leadership should come from every level. Every team member should be a leader.

Here’s what I mean by that: Unlike a top-down, directive leadership style, encouraging every team member to be a leader, places responsibility and accountability on their shoulders, allowing them to feel a greater sense of purpose in their work. You empower employees to make decisions, work together to find solutions, and communicate with every level of leadership.

People tend to rise to the expectations set upon them. If they’re micro-managed and treated like they’re not capable of managing their own workload, they won’t manage it well. But if they’re given the opportunity to lead themselves, they’re more likely to rise to the occasion. When every team member acts as a leader, your leadership team is there to support them, monitor their progress, and give recognition for their achievements.

  1. Build a culture of empathy and promote fun in the workplace 

Is your workplace stiff and formal all the time? I hope not. In business settings where dress code and behaving professionally are important, your work culture needs to incorporate a sense of joy and elements of fun. Make an effort to create an environment where team members feel comfortable joking with each other, sending memes over chat, and acting like themselves. Full-time employees spend the majority of their day at work or doing work-related tasks, so they need to feel comfortable in their work environment.

Another important aspect of your workplace culture is empathy and caring. Employees need to know they matter, not just for productive achievement, but as people. Creating a collaborative environment where team members are willing to help each other out and where you’re willing to adapt when needed can make a big difference. This extends to leadership and making sure every team member feels both valued and heard. It’s important for leadership to acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments of their team on both an individual and team level. Having a culture of transparency in terms of leadership decisions is another factor that increases trust and makes employees feel valued. The most important rule is to treat every person with care, listen to their concerns and ideas, and show them that they’re valued.

  1. Look deeply at the impact of benefits and pay for team members

While it may sound obvious, the reason your employees come to work is because they’re getting paid to do so. It doesn’t matter how much they love their job—they need to make a living. As an entrepreneur, it can be easy to just focus on your vision and trying to inspire your team with a sense of purpose as a means to retain employees, but the reality is that even though people can become extremely invested in their jobs, no one is as invested in your company as you are. Benefits and pay are major motivators for an employee to stay at a job, and providing a good compensation package is part of how you show employees that you care about them and their well-being.

Employees expect certain benefits, such as good insurance options, sick days, and paid vacation, but there are plenty of other benefits you can offer that will be greatly appreciated. A popular option at many workplaces is flexible working time. Allowing employees to come in an hour earlier or an hour later and stay until they’ve worked their eight hours can be a relief to many, because it allows them to structure their day in the way that works best for them—whether that means sleeping a little later or leaving a little earlier to beat the rush hour traffic or pick up a child from school.

It’s also worth considering allowing employees to work from home, if not full time, at least several days each week. As the working culture shifts toward more remote work, this benefit is becoming more common and something that many talented workers desire. It’s also worth considering that many people tend to be more productive from home than at the office. And for those who want to come into the office, the option is still there. When I started Hennessey Digital, I created an entirely remote workplace to ensure that I could hire the most competent employees from anywhere around the world.

Compensation packages are one of the most important factors in retaining employees. Remember to review your team members’ compensation regularly so you know whether you’re paying them fairly. Employees know that it’s often more profitable to switch jobs every few years than staying in the same position, but if you continue to increase their compensation package to keep up with the market, you’ll avoid other companies wooing your best team members away with a better salary or benefits.

  1. Don’t forget the power of upward mobility and professional growth

Some of the most important factors in an employee’s decision to stay or go, aside from compensation, are the opportunities for upward mobility and personal and professional growth that your company provides. The reality is that if there’s no good opportunity for a team member to get promoted, take on new challenges, and grow in their skills and career, they’re going to move on eventually. Star team members don’t just want jobs—they want careers, and they can tell the difference.

Depending on how your company is structured, providing opportunities for growth could mean different things. Perhaps it’s as simple as promoting employees who do well to higher positions with more responsibility and better pay.  It may mean adaptability in roles and allowing the employee to take on more responsibility, creativity, and leadership in areas where they excel. In fact, customizing a job description to a specific team member can have major benefits for both the employer and employee. If you have someone who excels in a certain area and you can create a new job description that allows them to focus on what they do best, you can take advantage of their best work while also ensuring a loyal team member who feels valued for what they contribute. We have managers work with employees to identify their desired career pathing, and assist them in acquiring the skills to be promoted.

Losing your top talent and having to replace them is costly and time-consuming. But by creating a caring work environment, backed by tangible support,  you can motivate your team members to stay energized and perform their best work. Boost your company’s talent  magnetism to attract and retain employees; it’s a worthy investment in the future of your employees and your company.

If I Had to Choose the Most Critical Asset of My Company, What Would It Be?

Happier_teamThat’s an easy one! It’s my employees.

As a business leader, it’s really all about people that counts. Business is business, but people are precious and valuable as human beings. I believe that what you put out, you receive back. I strive to show employees how much I value them, and I’m humbled to say that I receive so much more from them than I give.

Whether you’re looking to hire new talent, improve your employee retention, or demonstrate to  your current employees your appreciation, consider the advantages of working for your company that  you offer to them. Ask yourself what you can add that they would greatly value.

In the current job market, employees know they’re more likely to improve their compensation by changing jobs every few years than staying with the same company. This doesn’t have to be the case if you offer competitive compensation packages. After all, you’ve invested a significant amount of time, money, and training in each of your team members, and the cost to replace an employee can average six to nine months of their salary. There’s value in retaining your talent and showing them you appreciate them through benefits that may be more unique than what another company might provide.

When it comes to compensation, there are certain benefits that most employees expect, and if you don’t provide them, it can be a deal-breaker for many talented individuals. Providing paid vacation days, holidays, and insurance are a must for most full-time employees. But if you really want to attract and retain high-quality team members, it’s worth offering other highly desired benefits as well. It’s all about having the stronger talent magnet than your competitors.

  1. Remote work options

One benefit that’s become increasingly popular and that many employees desire is the option for remote work, whether it’s full-time or just a few days of the week. Since the 2020 coronavirus lockdowns, when many employers switched to remote workforces, a large portion of the workforce became accustomed to work-from-home jobs. Some people made major life adjustments around it, adopting new pets or even moving into the countryside, outside of a reasonable commuting distance to their work. And when offices began to open again, many workers determined they’d rather change jobs than return to their previous commute for the sake of working in-office.

While there are still plenty of employees who don’t prefer remote work, even a few optional days from home can be a great benefit for everyone, making it easier to fit in doctor’s appointments, home repair, or taking care of sick kids when needed. Allowing team members to work from home, at least on occasion, shows that you understand they are busy people and care about their lives outside of work. And by offering full-time remote positions, you widen your candidate pool significantly, allowing you to find talented individuals who aren’t geographically near your workplace but can provide great value to your company.

  1. Flexible work schedule

Flexible working schedules are becoming more common and are something many employees greatly appreciate. The great thing is you don’t have to jump through too many hoops to make it work, either. It can be as simple as allowing an hour of flex time on each end of the day. Say if your regular work day is from eight until five, allow employees to arrive as early as seven or as late as nine and work their full eight hours.

As long as everyone is present online between 9am and 2pm, there should be little problem organizing meetings and schedules around people’s availability. This allows employees to wake up at their preferred time and leave the office earlier if needed, meaning that they may need less time off for appointments and can potentially skip some of the rush hour traffic. It also allows you to hire globally. There’s so much talent outside of the U.S.  And, it’s an easy benefit to add because it costs you nothing, and it can be a major perk.

  1. Unlimited or More Than Average PTO

This might sound crazy, but a fairly large number of businesses have begun to implement it, and guess what? It works! These businesses allow their employees to take off as much time as they want, as long as they’re still accomplishing what they need to get done. This type of PTO policy can be a benefit to both employees and employers when implemented correctly. It can make team members more efficient in their work as they focus on time management to ensure they’re able to take their vacation time.

Most workers know that two or even a more generous three weeks of vacation time in a year is never enough when you have to use it for things like medical needs, taking care of sick kids, family obligations, and other things that arise. It’s also important to ensure that your team members actually take vacation days. Without a set number of vacation days, some workers may simply never get around to requesting time off, especially if they have a heavy workload.

  1. Wellness benefits

In addition to health insurance, there are a number of things you can do to keep your employees in good physical and mental condition. Some options in addition to insurance are to offer gym membership reimbursements, pay for mental health services, or have a chiropractor visit the office on a regular basis. Ultimately, helping your employees take good care of themselves is an investment in your workforce, as they’ll likely have to take fewer sick days in the long run and will be in better condition to perform well.

As a fully remote company, we continually seek ways to foster wellness for our employees. Each week, we share wellness tips and resources on our #health-and-wellness Slack channel.

  1. Paid parental leave

While it’s certainly one of the more expensive benefits to offer, paid maternity and paternity leave are a major factor that can help you win over new talent and retain employees. The reality is that many parents are forced to make major life changes when they have a child, sometimes resulting in one parent leaving the workforce. Offering parental leave not only helps you attract and retain employees as a major part of their benefits package, but it also shows that you care about your employees on a personal level and recognize the importance of their families. Investing in your team members in this way creates a greater sense of loyalty—they know you have their back even during some of the most important moments of their lives.

  1. Meaningful Work

While it’s not technically a benefit, one of the most important factors in retaining team members and attracting new talent is offering meaningful work. Everyone wants to feel that what they invest their time and effort in matters, and there’s nothing you invest more time in than your work. A full-time job takes up the majority of your day, and if what you’re doing feels pointless or meaningless, you’re not likely to stick with it for long.

There are a number of ways you can offer your team meaningful work. First, ensure that every team member understands the importance of their role and how it fits into the larger picture of the business. Focus on what you do for your clients and the difference it makes for them. If your employees believe in what they’re doing, they’ll have better motivation and will be more satisfied in their work. What is the purpose of your business, and does everyone on your team understand that vision and their role in it?

  1. Paid personal development

One of the best ways you can invest in your team members is to pay for training beyond their everyday work, and give them the time during the workday to pursue development. That could take the form of continuing education classes to enhance their skills or learn more about the industry. Professional development allows your team to feel that they are continuing to grow and not stagnating in their jobs. Additionally, by providing opportunities for them to enhance their skill set, you get a return on your investment in the new value they’re able to bring to the team.

  1. Community service

As a leader, I want to ensure that the actions we’re taking are consistent with our values. We value people. I want my employees to value people. We offer one week paid leave for employees to volunteer their time in a form of community service that’s important to them. It’s a tangible way to demonstrate our values, not just talk about them.

Providing benefits beyond the expected insurance and time off standards is an important factor in attracting and retaining top talent. While not every benefit you offer will appeal to everyone who works for you, the options you give represent a major part of someone’s decision to work with your company or stay with your company when there are other options available. The benefits you provide are an investment in your team, which will ultimately return to you in the form of happier, more productive, and loyal employees and contractors who want to work for you and love their jobs.

Move Forward by Stepping Back in Your Business

When you first started your business, what was your dream? Was it working at the office until midnight regularly, rushing from meeting to meeting, and putting out fires every week? I’d bet it wasn’t. I bet you imagined working hard on something you love and eventually being able to take a back seat and let the business work for you. If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you’re driven not only by your desire for success and your ambition, but also by hoping to gain more freedom in your life in the future.

Making the shift from working in your business to working on your business and letting your business work for you can be a real challenge for many entrepreneurs. After all, you’re more invested (both monetarily and emotionally) than anyone else is, and it can be hard to give up control over many things. But what if I told you your business could actually benefit from you stepping back and taking a less hands-on role in the day-to-day operations?

The reality is that, out of everyone in your business, your time is the most valuable. You’re the only one able to make high-level decisions and drive the creative direction of your company. The more time you spend taking care of tasks that could be handled by someone else, the less time you have to do creative work and other important tasks that only you can accomplish. And chances are, when you calculate what your hourly rate is, it actually costs your business more for you to do those tasks than it would for any of your employees or contractors to perform the same task.

In his book Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself, Mike Michalowicz describes his method, called the clockwork principle. He argues that your time is most valuable working on your business rather than in your business. By designing your business to run itself, like clockwork, without the need for your hand in daily tasks, you can increase your profits and live the life you want to live. When Michalowicz felt he had his business running “like clockwork,” he tested it by taking a month-long vacation, and true enough, everything ran smoothly without him.

Imagine the freedom to take a month-long vacation without worrying about a crisis arising with your business while you were gone? To many entrepreneurs, it sounds too good to be true. But it’s simply a matter of structuring your business and training your leaders to operate independently, and it’s key to your company’s growth. If you didn’t have to spend so much time in the nitty-gritty daily work, what could you accomplish?

One of the key aspects of the clockwork principle is for you to identify your “queen bee role.” What is the most important task that you’re responsible for? What do you do best that no one else can do, and that brings the most value to your company? Once you’ve identified that role, take everything else on your list and assign it to someone else. You can also help your team members identify their own “queen bee” roles—their most important tasks that bring the most value to the business. If you structure your company around everyone’s most vital role or roles so that each individual is focused on their most important tasks and understands how their role brings value, it’s much easier for your team to lead themselves.

A big part of stepping back in your leadership role is to encourage collaborative leadership in every aspect of your business. Make every team member a leader. Help them understand what their most important tasks are and how those fit into the greater success of the business. Then give them the responsibility to own those tasks, make decisions, and solve problems at the level they arise.

A strategy that can be extremely beneficial is to assemble teams to take on new projects or initiatives based on skills and aptitudes rather than assigning projects to existing teams. The same goes for roles—by being willing to adapt roles based on the skills of your team members, your employees will be better able to focus on their most important tasks and exercise their best skills. For example, if you have a team member who does a variety of tasks but is particularly skilled in customer communications, shifting that role to focus primarily on customer communications maximizes value and allows focus on where the most value and passion exists.

With this type of business structure, your leadership team can take on a role of support, monitoring teams to help them solve problems, keep them accountable, and celebrate their successes. When everyone understands clearly what their goals are and how their role fits into the larger picture, and they are given responsibility to make decisions and solve problems, they are empowered to do their best work and lead themselves.

As you take a step back in your leadership and begin to experience the freedom of letting your business run the way you’ve set it up to run, you’ll find renewed energy to create new initiatives and enact your best ideas, ultimately resulting in greater profits as you spend more time working on your business rather than in it. Your time is valuable—what could you do with more of it? Start today by identifying what you do that no one else in your company can do, then begin to assign your other tasks to your team members. Empower them to step up to the responsibility, and let your business work for you.

Four Supercharged Tips to Improve Your Law Firm’s SEO

It’s easy for law firms to get lost among the competition when it comes to online search results. And your SEO performance plays a major role in your digital marketing success. After all, when someone needs a lawyer, the first thing they’re likely to do is Google the type of lawyer they need in their area. The top results they’ll find will be the law firms who have excellent search engine optimization.

A good digital marketing strategy customized for your specific market can make your website stand out, draw in more traffic, and improve your lead-to-client conversion rate, resulting in more revenue for your business. If you follow my tips below, you’re sure to improve your online search ranking and begin bringing more traffic to your website.

1. Use your niche audience as your point of focus

Before you do anything else when planning your digital marketing strategy, take the time to identify your target audience. Start with what you specialize in and zero in on that niche. If you’re a personal injury law firm, your audience is obviously people who have suffered an injury, however you can get more specific and narrowly focused. What’s their age range, where do they live, and what is their income bracket? Ask as many questions as you can to focus on the details of your target audience.

Demographic questions can help you narrow down your target audience significantly, but once you have a basic picture of the kind of people who might be searching for your website, it’s time to zoom in even closer. Consider these questions: Who is your ideal client? What problem do they have, and how can you solve it? What questions do they have? Where do they spend their time online, and where are they likely to look for solutions to their problem? This can give you an idea of where to focus your marketing efforts. If your target audience doesn’t use Instagram, for example, it would be a waste of time and resources to advertise there. Similarly, it helps you understand how to construct your website and messaging to appeal to your ideal clients, so you’re more likely to win their business.

2. Allow what you learn from your competitors to save you money in research

One of the best ways to improve your digital marketing strategy is to find your top competitors—the law firms that are already ranking well for the search terms you want to rank for—and figure out what’s working well for them. You can do this by searching for the keywords you want to rank for and looking at the top two or three results that aren’t ads. 

What is it that made their page rank at the top of the search results? Perhaps they have an excellent 5,000-word article about the keywords you searched. Well, all you have to do is beat them by writing an even better article that’s 7,000 words long. You can do this for many aspects of your competitors’ sites. You can use analytics data to discover information about their sites, then consistently beat them in every aspect you can. This is one of the most reliable ways to improve your search ranking.

3. Make your content relevant and interesting

One common mistake many law firms make is to create generic law-related content, articles that have been written a hundred times over, like “What to do if you’re at fault in a car accident.” There are so many of these types of articles out there that it’s very difficult to get them to rank well in search results. That means you need to get a little more creative with your content.

This is where it’s a good idea to go back to the picture you painted of your ideal client. What questions do they have? How can you answer those questions in an interesting way? Think about the narrative you’re telling with your content and the impression it creates of your law firm. Lean into stories, but remember that you’re not the hero—your client is. Whatever challenge they’re facing is the villain in their story, and you’re there to offer yourself up as the sword that can help them vanquish the beast and overcome the challenge they’re facing.

4. Localize your information to better target your niche market

One of the most important aspects of SEO is to localize your content to ensure you’re actually reaching the right audience—people in your area who will hire your law firm. Here are a few tips to help you maximize your local SEO strategy:

  1. Set up your Google My Business account to claim your business on Google Maps. This plays an important role in SEO and is often at the top of search results pages.
  2. Create individual and unique pages for each location you service. If your law firm works in multiple locations, you should have a separate page for each of them, and ensure that no content is duplicated across these pages, or the algorithm may penalize you for it.
  3. Publish localized content to create a stronger association between your website and keywords for that specific location. 
  4. Use local directories and media to create backlinks to your website, which will boost your SEO.

By following these tips to improve your SEO strategy, you’ll have a leg up over other law firms in your area. In a time when people are quick to Google whatever they need, it’s important that your website is at the top of the search results when they’re in need of a law firm. When you carefully target your niche market and build your digital marketing strategy around your ideal clients, you’ll greatly expand your SEO advantage to convert more website traffic to leads and cases.

Are Your Website H1s Optimized for Google?

Recent Study Finds Over 50% of Marketers May Be Optimizing H1s Incorrectly

Search engine optimization (SEO) specialist Cyrus Shepard recently conducted a poll asking marketers what’s considered an optimized H1 heading under Google’s current guidelines.

Over fifty-seven percent responded that, yes, Google does recommend using a single <H1> heading on your web pages for SEO purposes. But is this correct?

For website and business owners looking to please the Google gods, this is an important question to answer. Optimization regarding H1 headings could have implications in terms of organic ranking and traffic, which in turn could hinder your website’s growth.

Fortunately, Google expert John Mueller goes on to answer that no, Google does not recommend using one H1 heading. Here’s why this matters for your site. 

What is an H1 heading?

An H1 heading is an HTML tag that indicates the primary heading on a web page. It’s essentially a snippet of code that tells your website how to display the content and communicates to search engines what the web page is about. 

Having an optimized H1 is important for SEO. What’s contested is how many H1 headings your web page needs in order to be deemed “optimized” in the eyes of Google. 

Note: Keep in mind that the number of H1 headings is only one part of the equation; you should also be optimizing your headings with target keywords and writing them with readers in mind.

Google’s Recommendation Regarding H1 Headings

During an office hours hangout session, John Mueller stated that Google’s official position is that websites are free to use as many H1 headings as they please. 

Mueller said, “You can use H1 tags as often as you want on a page. There’s no limit, neither upper or lower bound. Your site is going to rank perfectly fine with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags.”

This runs counter to the popular belief that a web page should only have a single H1 heading. This belief is based on the logic that Google’s system is only able to make sense of a single H1 tag. 

In reality, Mueller stated, “Our systems don’t have a problem when it comes to multiple H1 headings on a page. That’s a fairly common pattern on the web.”

Why is Heading Tag SEO Such a Contentious Debate?

The SEO industry is ripe with “expert” perspectives, SEO hacks, and contentious debates over what works and what doesn’t. This has led to much confusion when it comes to what it takes to truly optimize one’s website for search engine traffic.

Part of this is due to marketers testing strategies and analyzing what works best for their own sites. Other times, it’s simply due to hearsay or ego over what’s considered “best” – baseless claims based more on assumptions than fact.

Anecdotal evidence, as well as feedback on Shephard’s unofficial study, show wide disagreement over what’s best when it comes to H1 heading SEO. However, Google’s official statement goes to prove that the algorithm is much more flexible than many marketers would have people believe.

Best Practices for H1 Optimization

In the early 2000s, Google used clues to “read” H1s and web page content to best understand what a page is about. Today, the algorithm is much more intelligent and publishers can get away with less optimization and more writing for users.

Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013 indicated a transition from the original algorithm structure to use natural language processing to understand content, search queries, and website structure.

This means that best practices for H1 heading optimization include:

  • Including your focus keyword or a related keyword in the H1
  • Writing a concise H1 that appeals to your target audience
  • Using one or several H1s on a given web page

That’s it. In reality, there’s no “magic ranking power” to an H1 tag, and focusing heavily on this single element on your web page distracts from the overall goal, which is to write for users first. 

Why This Matters for Your Business Website

Today, Google is most focused on providing the best experience to users, not nit-picking content on your website. Concerning yourself with the number of H1 headings you use is a waste when you should be prioritizing your writing for users’ search queries, questions, and interests. 

Staying on top of Google’s updates is important when it comes to optimizing your site, but far less has changed than many marketers would have you believe. Do your best to write content for your target audience and follow SEO best practices, and you will be miles ahead of those trying to game Google with SEO “hacks” and shady tactics. 

Poll of nearly 2,000 SEOs shows more than 50% don’t know what Google recommends for H1 headings