Header Tags (H1, H2, etc.)
What are Header Tags ?
Also known as “header tags,” these page elements represent different levels of headings in HTML. From the largest (H1) to the smallest (H6), these define the titles/headings and sub-headings of Web copy. For SEO and reader benefits, headers should contain keywords wherever possible.
HTML defines six levels of headings. A heading element implies all the font changes, paragraph breaks before and after, and any white space necessary to render the heading. The heading elements are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 with H1 being the highest (or most important) level and H6 the least.
Use Headers Tags to Provide Structure
A helpful way to think of header tags is by comparing them to a table of contents for a non-fiction book:
- Your H1 introduces the topic your page is all about, just as a title tells a reader what a book is all about.
- The H2s are akin to book chapters, describing the main topics you’ll cover in sections of the article.
- Subsequent headers, H3s to H6s, serve as additional sub-headings within each section, just as a book chapter may be split up by multiple sub-topics.
Using this post as an example, the H1 is the title of the article. The H2s are the seven “chapters” of this article, all related to the main theme.
Use Headers to Break Up Text
A scannable article is a readable article, and a readable article is one that’s more likely to perform well in the search engines.
The data backs up these claims. Only 16 percent of internet users read an article word-for-word. The rest are scanning.
People simply like scannable content. According to the same research, an article that’s scannable is 58 percent more likely to perform better with readers.
When an article is scannable, users might actually stick around to read it, instead of bouncing back to Google. Plus, they’ll also be more likely to share it with their friends.
While social signals aren’t a direct ranking factor, the more an article is shared, the more likely it is to naturally earn backlinks, which are a ranking factor.
Include Keywords in Your Header Tags
While headers are not going to have as large an impact on your SEO as a backlink from an authoritative site, Google still looks at them to gather context for your page.
As with anything Google pays attention to, that means it’s worth including keywords in your header tags.
This does not mean you should shoehorn keywords in at all costs. Be judicious, not spammy.
You’ll note that many of the header tags in this article contain keywords, but not all of them do.
Your page should be readable first and foremost, and naturally include keywords.
Design for users, then make tweaks to optimize for Google – without sacrificing the user experience.
Increasingly, SEO professionals are finding that good UX translates to good SEO.
Optimize for Featured Snippets
One place where header tags do seem to make a positive impact on SEO is with featured snippets – in two particular ways:
- The first is optimizing your header tag for a long-tail voice search keyword, and then answering the query directly below using text within <p> paragraph tags.
- The second is using subsequent, smaller headings to outline different list items. Google uses these headers to create its own bulleted and numbered lists featured snippet results
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