Overview – HTML headings (H1 – H6)

When reading an article or a webpage, the reality is we all want to access the precise information we are interested in as quickly as possible. Headings can help as a navigational tool and a way of establishing hierarchy. It is an incredibly useful tool all content creators need to be familiar with. Here’s an overview of SEO headings to tell you everything you need to know. 

How do headings Work?

SEO text headings use specific classifications that run on a scale from H1 to H6. The lower the number, the higher the significance, with H1 being the most important tag, as it is used as a headline and will often be used to generate the non-visible title tag for the page

Anything from a H2 onwards is considered a subheading. Think of it as writing a Word document, and highlighting certain headings in bold. A H tag effectively does that, only the coding that surrounds it signals it is a phrase of importance, in a way that search engines specifically look out for. 

SEO Text Heading Example

<h1>How To Start A Blog</h1>

(insert opening paragraph)

<h2>Popular Blog Niches</h2>

(content)

<h3>Beauty</h3>

(content)

<h3>Home</h3>

With the above example, it shows how you would potentially structure a blog post. The H1 tag is the most SEO friendly, as its corresponding with the direct Google search someone is likely to make to find such an article. 

All of the subheadings underneath relate to the H1 tag, but are additional questions or categories the user might want to know more about. Single phrases are used as H3 tags, as they directly relate to the H2 tag but wouldn’t work separately from it without some context. 

What Do SEO Text Headings Do?

SEO text headings are multidimensional in their purpose, as they guide both users and search engines in navigating a piece of content. In particular, they can be narrowed down to providing the following 3 functions:

Provide Structure

SEO headings provide a structure by giving a quick summary about what the following block of text is about. They can be used to break up your text, by grouping relevant paragraphs in a way that’s easier to digest. 

For example, in an article about fruit, you could have subheadings for cherries, raspberries and blackcurrants. This would allow the user to find which fruit they are interested in, rather than having to read a wall of text or even do a Ctrl+F search to jump to the right bit of the page. 

Keyword Implementation

There’s no escaping that anything you H tag will become more visible to search engines. Therefore, the words should be highly useful not to mention searchable, especially for H1 and H2 tags which carry the most significance.

It’s also important to use words that also offer genuine value to your users, rather than just focusing on the keyword aspect alone. Even if you use a highly searchable term, if the content underneath doesn’t give them the answers they are looking for, this will soon be reflected in your bounce rate. 

Improve Accessibility

Making content more accessible isn’t confined to the realms of the outside world, as all of us have a responsibility to consider those with visual impairments within our web design too. This includes making content screen reader friendly, and SEO headings can be extremely useful for this purpose. 

Accessibility is yet another reason why SEO headings need to feature helpful, relevant keywords that help to break the text up. Otherwise, the individual would have to go through the entire length of text to find what they are looking for. Similar to those who are browsing your site through conventional means, this is time consuming not to mention frustrating if you have to go on a hunt for the information you need.  

Using SEO Headings: Top Tips

Your H1 tag is your headline which needs to be at the top of the page, and the exact content – word for word – should not be repeated within another H tag. Instead, your H1 tag should only be used for the title. Your lesser H tags are the subheadings which relate to this H tag, and so should follow a logical hierarchy.

On that note, the order in which you use H tags is also related to hierarchy. It’s fine to use a H2 tag and then a H3 tag which offers a broader explanation. But avoid large jumps such as using a H6 tag and then a H2 tag. Keeping within 1 move up or down of your previous tag is the best practice for SEO. 

Finally, don’t use your SEO tags as cliffhangers that leave your audience in suspense. Instead, stick to clear keywords that genuinely add relevance. If in doubt, think: “Would anyone type this H tag into Google to specifically find what this content is about?” 

To Sum Up

SEO headings are a language that highlights key sections of your content. When used correctly, they allow both Google and users to cut straight to the information they are most interested in. 

They can also be used to expand on a point, adding more value to the piece. Doing so also helps break up the text, so that the content benefits from improved readability.

Steve Paine
07.01.2021