It is quite natural a header div is one of the most important on-page elements and thus it is in constant focus of SEOs’ attention:
- it is a sitewide element – it “interlinks” / unites all site subpages (and thus is one of the most important components of your site internal architecture);
- it is the most prominent part of the site – it is usually located at the top of the page source code (and hence is a good place for your keywords).
Nonetheless not everything is that easy – while having a great SEO potential, a header may cause some serious problems as well:
- an over-optimized header may cause incorrect rankings (e.g. when home page is ranked higher than a more relevant sub page for example);
- an over-optimized header may lead to penalties (e.g. many of us saw penalties caused by internal anchor text over-optimization).
Most often questions related to header div SEO include:
- is it wiser to use a text link or a (linked) image banner?
- what’s preferable: to use keywords or a brand name as an image alternative text or link anchor text?
- should “home” link be “nofollowed”?
Here is how most prominent bloggers handle the header SEO:
|Source||Header div type||Details||Overall tactic|
|Linked banner||Image name: header-logo; alternative text: Search Engine Land!; title: Search Engine Land||Image banner (alt text cites exactly what image says)|
|Linked banner||Image name: logo; alternative text: Search engine optimization from Blogstorm; title: none||Image banner (with a descriptive alt text) + “home” link using “nofollow”|
|Linked banner||Image name: logo; alternative text: none; title: none||Image banner with no alt text + “Home” text link|
|Text link||H3-tagged text link; anchor text: Stephan Spencer’s Scatterings||Text link (anchor text citing the blog name)|
|Text link||anchor text: Home||Text link (anchor text non-descriptive)|
So as far as you can see, there is no definitive answers. My own take on the header optimization is as follows:
- don’t have it linked to itself;
- don’t use “nofollow” attribute for it (while “first-link-is-the-only-that-counts” theory is still questionable, you better stay on the safe side);
- it’s best not to over-optimize the header with keywords, instead, use your brand name – it’s even better if your main keyword is included in your brand/ domain name (e.g. SEO book, SEO moz).
- (this needs more testing) try CSS positioning the entire header div after the main content block – thus you will “show” a search crawler each page unique element first and give each page specific keywords more prominence (avoid keyword cannibalization)