How to Structure Heading Tags
Posted on 19th April 2021
When we talk about heading tags, or more correctly, heading elements, most people will know that any content that is to appear online – blogs, landing pages, digital ads – should have headings. There is an understanding that headings break up the content into bite-sized, easy-to-read sections, as well as allow Google to read it. But few realise the true benefits of heading tags. Incorporating SEO-optimised headings not only tell Google and users what the content on your web or landing page is about, it can also improve your business or organisation’s ranking in Search Engine Results pages (SERPs).
What are heading tags?
So, firstly, let’s take a step back for a moment and just clarify what heading tags are, and why they should be used as part of your website.
Heading tags are used in building websites and landing pages to help Google not only read your content and understand what the content is about, but rank it as well. The range of heading tags is from H1, which is the main title heading tag, down to H6. They form a hierarchical structure to the web page, with the H1 heading being the most important, as far as Google is concerned, because it is the title of the page and should immediately inform Google what the content on the page is about.
However, the H1 heading tag should not be confused with the page title. Whilst both tell Google what the content is about on the web page or landing page, when it comes to inserting the relevant tags, the H1 heading tags is <h1> and appears on the web page; the page title is <title>.and does not appear on the web page. But that said, both tell the user and Google what appears on the page.
What is the hierarchical structure of heading tags?
Headings need to be structured in a logical way on a web or landing page. They should always start with the H1 heading, followed by H2 as a subsection heading, and so on right down to the H6 heading.
Whether it is short-form or long-form content, headings and their heading tags must always be sequential. It’s not a good idea to skip a heading tag as Google may miss the relevancy of the content.
As you come down the heading tags hierarchy, the size of the heading gets smaller, hence H1 being the main heading (therefore bigger size) and H6 being the smallest. The H1 heading is the one that captures the reader and Google by describing the main topic of the web or landing page. A page should contain just one H1 heading tag and must be as near to 100% related to the page’s content as it can be. However, avoid using H1 heading tags around images – search engines are not as good at recognising images as they are with text content.
Whilst your heading can match your page title, there is no necessity for this. Your H1 heading is what visitors to your web or landing page are going to see. Therefore, it’s important that the H1 heading tag is prioritised over the page title.
Another important factor to creating H1 heading tags is to ensure they are not too long. Remember that we are very much in a mobile world and a user’s experience on mobile devices is becoming a priority. Therefore, ensure there are no more than 60 characters to the H1 heading.
Structuring your heading tags
Visitors to your web or landing page want to be able to ‘scan’ your article to assess whether it’s worth reading or not, and headings enable them to do this. Indeed, Forbes considered it “the most overlooked factor of content marketing.”
The data certainly enforces this claim; just 16% of visitors actually read an article, most just scan it. The same research confirms that articles that are ‘scannable’, i.e. the content is broken up into easy-to-read sections with headings, are likely to perform better by as much as 58%.
Your main H1 heading tag should, in no more than 60 characters, tell the reader and Google what the content is about. Ensure there is at least one keyword in your heading, preferably two, or a keyword phrase. This will help the search bots to recognise the header elements. Keep in mind SEO-optimisation – heading tags are not there just to make your page look nice.
The heading tags should be used sequentially and should provide structure to your content. Use only one H1 heading tag – that is the title of your content. By breaking down your copy into bite-sized sections, the content is not only more scannable but also more readable. Therefore, the visitor to your web or landing page will stay on the page for longer, and potentially go further into your website.
Your H2 heading tags will be for the sections of your content, and H3 heading tags for the subsections. In most cases, you don’t need to go beyond H4 heading tags. However, it is recommended not to use heading tags to ‘hide’ content on your web or landing page as this could result in your page being blacklisted.
A web or landing page without the relevant heading tags included will result in search engine bots not being able to identify your content, and thereby not being able to rank it. There’s nothing worse than creating great content but to discover that it doesn’t appear in SERPs for the sake of adding heading tags. Enabling search bots to crawl your website, identify heading tags and thereby ‘push’ your web page up the search rankings is a key SEO exercise, and a necessity in today’s modern, online world.
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