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H1 Headings: Over 50% of SEOs Doing it Wrong?

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H1 Headings: Over 50% of SEOs Doing it Wrong?

Recent discussions on social media indicates there is considerable disagreement in how to use Heading (H1, H2) elements. Despite guidance from Google about the use of headings the SEO industry still can’t agree about how to use headings.

An informal poll on Twitter with nearly 2,000 votes shows over half of SEOs don’t know what Google’s recommendation on headings are.

Does Google Recommend Using One H1 Heading for SEO?

Cyrus Shepard (@CyrusShepard) conducted a poll asking what Google’s guidance on multiple H1 headings were.

Surprisingly, nearly sixty percent of the respondents indicated that Google recommends just one H1 heading to a web page.

Official Google Recommendation on Number of H1 Headings

Does Google recommend using one H1 heading? The answer is no.

Google’s John Mueller said in an office hours hangout that publishers are free to use as many H1 headings as they want.

John Mueller said:

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“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.”

Google has even published a video on this specific topic to dispel the idea that Google recommends only one H1.

In the video John Mueller says:

“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.”

SEOs Can’t Agree on Proper Use of Headings

Anecdotal evidence from online discussions in Facebook SEO groups also show that there is wide disagreement on the proper use of headings. Some in the SEO industry cling to ideas that date back to the early 2000’s. Others state that John Mueller’s statements aren’t entirely true.

The topic of heading tags is so basic yet despite numerous clarifications from Google the topic remains extremely polarizing.

Heading Tag SEO is a Contentious Topic Online

Bar Fight Meme of SEOs fighting about H1 heading tags

SEOs Say H1 Tag More Important than H2, H3, etc.

Some in the SEO industry will admit that Mueller said it’s okay to use more than one H1. But they will also insist that an H1 element is more important than an H2.

That used to be true back in the very early 2000’s. It’s not true anymore.

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Early Google Used Clues to Understand Web Pages

In the early 2000’s Google used headings as a clue to what a web page was about.

Google also regarded content at the top of the web page as more important because it gave another clue as to what a web page is about, since that’s where writers often state what the web page is about.

Words that were written in bold, italics and written in bigger fonts (using the old HTML 4 Font tag) were also regarded as clues as to what the web page was about, way back in the early 2000’s.

Some of these ranking factors were a part of the original Google PageRank research paper published in 1998 and in later research papers and revealed by Googlers in statements.

The point is that headings and other elements were used as clues as to what a web page is about. Google arguably began moving away from looking for clues to what a web page was about in 2012.

That’s the date that Google announced a new direction toward understanding what things are by using a Knowledge Graph.

The knowledge graph gave Google a deeper understanding of what things are so that it could move away from looking for clues in sequences of words (strings of data).

Google announced this in an article titled, Introducing the Knowledge Graph: Things, Not Strings.

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Google’s announcement said:

“This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.”

After the Google Hummingbird update announcement in September 2013 Google began a transition toward a more natural language style of understanding content and search queries.

In a September blog post Google announced that you could now do comparisons between objects by speaking to the Google Search App and other interesting things that relied more on knowledge of what things are and less on clues about what they are.

That was eight years ago and natural language processing has progressed so far that Google doesn’t rely on clues to guess what a page is about.

In 2021 Google can understand what the topic is about and relate it to a search query.

That’s wildly more sophisticated than matching search query keywords to keywords on a web page.

And that is why Google’s Mueller has been telling the SEO community that it doesn’t matter how many H1’s you use. The only purpose that a heading has is to communicate what a  section of content is about. That’s it.

The old 2001 way of giving Google a clue with keywords, that’s a thing of the past. Google doesn’t do exact match keywords in the search results anymore because natural language and AI technologies allow Google to understand what a page is about, especially if it’s well structured with the proper use of heading elements.

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No Magic Ranking Power to an H1 Tag

John Mueller’s statement expressly says that a site will rank fine without an H1 or with five H1s. That means there is no extra importance given to an H1.

Mueller also stated in another Office-hours Hangout that a page will rank fine if you use an H2 or an H1, that they could be used interchangeably.

In response to this question:

“A page without an H1 title will it still rank for keywords which is in the H2 title”

John Mueller answered:

“Of course.

…Will it still? I don’t know if it will still but it can. It can absolutely.”

Mueller went on to say that headings on a page (not just H1 but headings) help tell Google what that section of content is about.

Mueller stated:

“So headings on a page help us to better understand the content on the page.

Headings on the page are not the only ranking factor that we have.

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We look at the content on its own as well.

But sometimes having a clear heading on a page gives us a little bit more information on what that section is about.”

Heading tags continue to be a strong signal of what a section of content is. Read: Google: Heading Tags are a Strong Signal

Headings Used to Help for Ranking Keywords

Back around 2001 to 2005 there used to be a keyword ranking bonus with heading tags. It was necessary to use keywords in the headings. That was in the early 2000s.

Yet for some reason this particular habit of regarding H1 as extra important continues even though we are in the age of AI and Natural Language Processing.

Do some searches in Google and you’ll see that that kind of thing doesn’t matter anymore. You’ll see that the top ranked sites are ranked because they are relevant for the topic, not because they have an exact match keyword phrase in their heading tags.

So to finish up, what’s important is to accurately describe what the topic of the article is with your headings and to use headings to provide a description of what a section of content is about.

This will help Google to better understand the content because in 2021 Google doesn’t rank exact match keywords the way it used to in 2001 (I know because I was doing SEO in 2001).

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Today Google is ranking content, not keywords. It pays to think of the entire page in terms of “What is this about?” and each section as to how it relates to that overall topic.

Searchenginejournal.com

SEO

9 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners (Any Niche)

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9 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners (Any Niche)

There are thousands of affiliate marketing programs out there. However, not all of them are beginner-friendly. Some are more complex than others.

That’s why we created this guide to the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners. Here, you’ll find all the information you need to get started in affiliate marketing.

The nine best beginner-friendly affiliate marketing programs

Throughout this article, you’ll see examples of many affiliate programs. But what’s most important here are actually affiliate networks. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but a network is a place where you go to find the individual programs.

The way I wrote this article is to share the best networks for beginners—then within each network, I share some programs (and their niches) that you can sign up for.

This is the best way of sharing affiliate programs—because regardless of your niche, these networks will be great for you.

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1. Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is the absolute best affiliate marketing program for beginners.

You can sign up for its affiliate account in just a few minutes, and it sells virtually everything. So you’ll be able to promote Amazon products, regardless of your niche.

That said, its commission rates are very low. You can see up-to-date rates on this page. But as of this writing, most of the rates range from just 1–3%.

Amazon Affiliate program rates chart

Still, it’s super easy to use. Check out our guide to creating an Amazon affiliate site to learn more.

2. All the big box stores

Like Amazon, all the big box stores have affiliate programs that are really easy to use.

These include:

Also like Amazon, their commission rates are pretty poor. But they are an easy way to get started while you grow to eventually move to better-paying partners.

3. AvantLink

AvantLink is the first affiliate network I ever signed up for. I’m not a huge fan of its reporting dashboard (it’s not the most intuitive), but it’s super easy to sign up and get started.

AvantLink affiliate dashboard

Some of the best and highest-paying affiliate programs available through AvantLink include:

  • FFL123.com | 50% commission | Firearms/Tactical
  • Super Speciosa | 40% commission | Health/Wellness
  • Reddiyo | 30% commission | Cycling
  • Wedding Hashers | 30% commission | Custom/Personalized Products
  • Sprinkle & Sweep | 25% commission | Pet Products

Of course, it has thousands of other programs, all categorized by niche. You can find the above programs and many more through AvantLink’s merchant list.

4. ShareASale

ShareASale is another popular network for affiliate partners. It also lacks in the reporting department but is good enough for beginners.

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ShareASale affiliate activity feed

Some great affiliate options on ShareASale include:

  • Northwest Registered Agent LLC | $100 commission | Business Registrant
  • Promaster | 15% commission | Photography
  • Print Games Now | 35–45% commission | Printing/Games
  • FreshBooks | $55 commission | Small Business/Finance
  • Aviron Interactive | $110 commission | Fitness

You can find these merchants and many more on ShareASale’s merchant page.

5. Commission Junction

Commission Junction (CJ) is one of the oldest affiliate networks out there, founded all the way back in 1998. Because of that, it has one of the widest selections of affiliate programs.

Commission Junction dashboard

Some cool programs on CJ include:

  • Slova Cosmetics | 20% commission | Bath & Body
  • Separatec Underwear | 20% commission | Clothing
  • US Service Animals | 25% commission | Pets
  • Puraclenz | 25% commission | Equipment
  • eHarmony | 30% commission | Dating

The only downside to CJ is that its dashboard feels a little dated, and it is harder to sort through its affiliate merchants compared to the other platforms on this list.

6. TUNE

TUNE is my personal favorite affiliate software due to its excellent reporting dashboard and ease of use. However, it’s a bit different than the others on this list. Instead of being able to browse its affiliate partners, you have to find someone using its platform to use TUNE.

TUNE dashboard

Rather than recommending specific partners for this one, I’ll refer you to apply to become a TUNE media partner. Once you sign up, it will automatically connect you with the best affiliate partners for your specific niche.

Note that you do need to already have an affiliate business in place to apply.

7. Impact Radius

Impact Radius has been extremely successful in the affiliate space, with brand partners including Airbnb, Adidas, Lenovo, and more.

Impact Radius dashboard

One of the nice things about Impact is that it will continually recommend you brand partners based on your niche and current partners. This makes it easy to find new affiliate programs with minimal effort.

Some great affiliate options on Impact include:

  • Canva | 16–80% commission | Graphic Design
  • Pure Hemp Botanicals | 50% commission | CBD
  • Thumbtack | 30% commission | Services
  • Hyphen Sleep | 18% commission | Mattresses
  • Skillshare | 40% commission | Education

8. Refersion Marketplace

Refersion is one of the most successful affiliate software out there, with big brand name partners including Amazon, Shopify, and BigCommerce. Its dashboard is super simplistic and easy to use, which is great for beginners.

Refersion dashboard

To find affiliates to partner with, you can sign up on the Refersion Marketplace. It has a great user interface to filter and find brands to partner with.

List of affiliate partners on Refersion Marketplace

Some excellent brand partner options on Refersion include:

  • ZUGU iPad Cases | 15% commission | Phones
  • Peejamas | 10–20% commission | Kid’s Clothing
  • Bodhi Dog | 20% commission | Pet Care
  • LUNA Sandals | 10–30% commission | Footwear
  • Bare & Bones | 20% commission | Food

9. Rakuten

Last but not least, Rakuten Advertising is another of the oldest affiliate networks out there that started in 1997. Like CJ, it suffers from dated-feeling interfaces but has a wide selection of brands. 

Rakuten dashboard

Some options for beginners include:

  • Valise Homewares | 14% commission | House Goods
  • Ryderwear | 4–10% commission | Athletic Clothing
  • Trafalgar | 10% commission | Leather Goods
  • Big Little Feelings | 10% commission | Parenting
  • La Mariposa | 15% commission | Luxury Women’s Clothing

Overall, Rakuten is my least favorite network because its interface is so poor, but it does have some interesting affiliate programs.

How to get started in affiliate marketing

Found an affiliate program that works for you? Awesome—this section will give you an overview of how to get started earning your first affiliate dollars.

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Getting started with affiliate marketing can be done in three steps:

  1. Choosing an affiliate niche
  2. Creating your website and content
  3. Getting traffic to your content

1. Making sure you choose the right niche

Your niche is the thing you talk about on your blog or in your videos. It can be anything from a hobby, to a lifestyle, or to just about any other topic you can think of.

As long as there are people interested in the stuff you want to talk about, you can choose it as an affiliate niche.

Examples of niches include things like:

  • Gaming
  • Travel
  • Knitting
  • Woodworking
  • Etc

If you’re not sure what to talk about, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I good at?
  • What am I curious about?
  • What do I know a lot about?
  • What do other people tell me I’m good at or compliment me on?

The overlap in your answers is often a good starting point. For example, I’m good at and curious about entrepreneurship, and people often compliment me on how creative I am at finding ways to make money. So on my own website, I blog about finance and entrepreneurship.

You can also use Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar to find an affiliate niche while doing your everyday Google searches. 

As you’re searching whatever questions you have, the toolbar will give you keyword data like how many people search that keyword per month and how difficult it may be to rank for:

Viewing Google SERP using Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar

If you find a keyword that gets a lot of monthly searches and seems easy to rank for, it may indicate a potentially good niche.

Got some niche ideas that you’re excited and know a lot about? The last main thing to check is their competitiveness.

You can check competitiveness easily using Ahrefs’ free keyword difficulty checker. Just enter your keyword idea in the tool, and it will give you a Keyword Difficulty (KD) score on a scale of 0–100.

Ahrefs' free keyword difficulty checker

As you can see, the keyword “tennis shoes” has a KD of 45, which may be hard for a newer website to rank for.

In general, as a new site, you want to look for KD scores under 30. Anything under 30 could be relatively easy to rank for.

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2. Creating your website and content

Once you have an idea of a niche, it’s time to create a niche site. This can quickly be done by buying a domain name and website hosting, then linking your website to WordPress to edit the backend.

It may sound a bit complicated, but it’s actually pretty easy. Here’s a comprehensive video on how to get started by WPBeginner:

Once your website is set up, you’ll need to do some basic affiliate keyword research to map out the content you want to create.

When you’re ready to begin writing, I recommend checking out our guide to content creation to learn how to make content that people will want to consume.

3. Promoting your content

Finally, once your content is created, it’s time to promote that content to start driving traffic (and sales) to your new affiliate site.

There are lots of ways to promote your content—like sharing it on social media, doing email outreach to other bloggers who may find it interesting, or even paid advertising.

However, the best return on your investment (in my opinion) is going to be search engine optimization (SEO).

Ranking on the first page of search engines like Google will ensure you get recurring traffic without constantly reaching out to promote your content or spending money on advertising

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Better yet, SEO pairs perfectly with affiliate marketing because people who are searching for an answer are closer to being ready to buy than people mindlessly browsing social media. The former is actively looking for a solution to a problem.

SEO does take time and effort to learn, but it’s a skill you won’t regret investing in.

Final thoughts

With so many affiliate marketing programs out there, it can be overwhelming to get started.

However, there are plenty of super simple and easy-to-use affiliate programs and networks that you can get up and running in just minutes.

I hope this guide helps you to start your affiliate marketing journey. If you’re ready to learn more, check out some of these other helpful guides:

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