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Should headlines be the same as titles?

For those of us who like to craft our web page titles and headlines to work well with the search engines, what’s the current best advice? Despite what some people say, it’s not to have them the same. The search engines do not consider differing page titles and headlines to somehow be gaming the system. Quite the opposite.

The headline on a web page should be designed to tell people why they should read the content below. An HTML document title, however, is supposed to describe the document (in this case a web page). These are accepted as being two different things.

Google creates its title links using the following information:

  • Document titles, marked up with the title tag
  • The most prominent title shown on the page
  • Headlines, marked up with the H1 tag
  • Prominently styled content
  • Other text in the page
  • Anchor text on the page
  • Text within links that point to the page
  • Structured data

As ever, it’s always worth crawling a website with a product such as Screaming Frog to get up-to-date listings of what’s on our sites.