How do header tags affect search engine optimization?
Table of Contents
Headings should be an integral part of your search engine optimization efforts. These headers are used by search engines such as Google to crawl through your content quickly.
In addition to helping Google determine the content of your page, header tags make it easier for people to read.
Readers rarely read entire articles, so headers make pages easier to scan. Users and search engines will be able to read your entire content if you have headers that accurately represent your content.
Headings: why do we need them?
Construct your text by using headings
An article’s headers guide readers through its content. Thus, each section or paragraph should state what it is about.
Then people will have a better idea of what to expect.
Rather than reading content from beginning to end, readers scan content, in order to get an overview of the text and determine which sections to read.
They are able to do this thanks to headings. When your text doesn’t contain headings, readers will have a harder time scanning it.
The problem gets worse when you follow a heading with long text. People don’t like to be scared off by huge text walls.
You should make sure that the headings you use in the online copy are informative to the reader. The headings of some articles may tease the reader, inviting them to continue reading.
It works well when it’s done correctly, but it’s also very easy to misunderstand. Always put attention to the content when creating headings – and remember that they should serve the primary purpose of making the text more understandable and easier to read.
Additionally, you should remember these two important points: first, a paragraph should begin with an introductory sentence, a point on which the remainder of the paragraph elaborates.
Be sure your first sentence includes the essential information of each paragraph when restructuring your text to add a heading.
You should likewise analyze the information you present in your paragraphs, how those paragraphs relate to each other, and whether you could use a subheading to facilitate the digestion of that information.
Search Engine Optimization Best Practices for HTML Heading Tags
1. Begin with H1 tag
In HTML, the H1 tag identifies a page’s heading. It should be placed near the top of the page. You need to ensure that your H1 header tag serves as the primary heading of your article.
As a result, H1 tags are usually a more visually noticeable part of the content. An H1 heading tag can help you catch someone’s attention when it comes to content marketing.
2. Provide organization information in headers
The header tags in your content provide structure, as we discussed above. It is particularly important that each header gives the reader a good idea of what information they will be able to get from the following block of text.
Content pieces can be thought of as standalone books. The title of the chapter will be in the H1 header, followed by the H2s, H3s, etc.
3. Separate text with headings
A site’s content’s readability is one of the most important factors affecting its success. Today, readability and scannability have become interdependent, as users favor easy-to-digest content.
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3. Associated searches with Google
The related searches at the bottom of Google search results may have caught your eye after you performed a Google search and were viewing the results. As Google shows you closely related search terms you might want to use as keywords, this is another great place to get keyword ideas.
4. Make Your Headers Keyword-Integrating
Keyword stuffing is not what we mean by including keywords in your headers. Only include your keyword phrase in your header if it is relevant to the content beneath it below. Content should be designed for its intended use, then optimized for SEO.
5. Make sure featured snippets are optimized
In order to optimize for featured snippets, header tags are crucial. Optimize your header tag for a long-tail search term and then follow that up with an answer to the question in the body.
Furthermore, list items can be further defined by using subsequent, smaller headings. These headers will then appear in the featured snippet results in bulleted and numbered lists.
6. Maintain consistency
Content strategy demands a consistent UX, and header tags are no exception.
Using the same case format across all tags would be a good example. Header tags should also be kept short. Ultimately, keeping your header tags consistent comes down to believing in them as mini-titles.
Improve SEO by using headings
As a general rule of thumb, how you use headings doesn’t directly impact your search engine optimization. Changing individual headings will not likely improve your performance.
Indirect benefits do exist, however. When headings are used, texts are more readable and of higher quality. The result is a better user experience, which in turn leads to higher search engine rankings.
Your visitors will probably leave your website if they cannot quickly find the answer to their question. The way your text is organized and how you use headings also play a role in SEO.
Visitors who bounce from your site are picked up by search engines. With a high bounce rate, you might be attributed to providing a poor user experience. As a result, your ratings may suffer.
Always keep the user in mind when creating headings. They can serve as signposts and structure for your content, as well as to describe each section. Having clear headings will help readers understand your content, and it will help Google as well.
Header tag blunders to avoid
- Never repeat an H1 tag
You are allowed to use as many H1 tags as you want in one post, according to Google and John Mueller. Therefore, it is not recommended to use multiple H1 tags as a rule of thumb when it comes to SEO. If you have pages with H1 tags that need optimizing, you should run them through a crawler like a Screaming frog.
- Keep header tags visible
When your header tag doesn’t work with your post or page, hiding it makes sense. Sadly, though, your site can be penalized by Google if you hide headers.
- Organize headings rather than styling
To help Google better crawl and understand your page content, heading tags are used as an organizing mechanism. Hence, ensure that all heading tags are appropriate for the layout throughout the page, rather than just creating them for style purposes.
- Avoid stuffing your headings with keywords
Technical SEO requires that keyword stuffing always be avoided. Include useless keywords in heading tags to avoid Google penalties and lower rankings in the SERP.
About the Author
My name’s Semil Shah, and I pride myself on being the last digital marketer that you’ll ever need. Having worked internationally across agile and disruptive teams from San Fransico to London, I can help you take what you are doing in digital to a whole next level.