Headers are still a strong signal for SEO. Google’s John Mueller said it himself:
“[W]hen it comes to text on a page, a heading is a really strong signal telling us this part of the page is about this topic.”
Header tags are a simple yet critical part of SEO. Use them wisely and you’ll please the search engine gods, as well as your users.
What Is A Header Tag?
Header tags are HTML tags that tell a browser what styling it should use to display a piece of text on a webpage.
If we looked up the HTML for the heading above, it’d look something like this:
<h2>What is a Header Tag?</h2>
Like headings in print content, header tags are used to title or introduce the content below them. HTML header tags follow a hierarchy, from <h1> to <h6>.
H1 tags are used to denote the most important text, such as the main theme or title of the content.
H2 and H3 tags are commonly used as subheadings.
Finally, H4, H5, and H6 tags may be used to provide further structure within those subsections.
Header tags are helpful for users and search engines. For your users, they give them a preview of the content they’re about to read.
Search engines like Google provide context on what your page is all about and provide a hierarchy. Think of header tags as chapter titles in a book. Give them a quick scan, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the content covers.
Headers are important for SEO because they help Google understand your content, but also because they make your page more user-friendly – by making your content more readable and accessible.
Now, let’s get to the best practices.
Use Header Tags To Provide Structure
Your header tags provide structure and context for your article. Each header should give the reader an idea of the information they can glean from the paragraph text that follows below.
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 subheadings within each section, just as a book chapter may be split up into multiple subtopics.
When drafting a blog article or landing page, think about the main ideas you want your visitors to come away with.
Those are your header tags. Use them to help you write your outline.
Break Up Blocks Of Text With Subheadings
A scannable article is a readable article, and a readable article is one that’s more likely to perform well in search engines.
That’s because Google likes to reward content that’s user-friendly. Content that’s easy to read is, by definition, more user-friendly than content that isn’t.
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
As Mueller told us, Google uses header tags 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’ve probably noticed that many of the header tags in this article contain keywords.
In fact, the H2 for this section literally includes “keywords!” But, the keyword I’m actually referring to is “header tags.”
That’s one of the target keywords for this article, so I’ve included it in many of the H2s. I haven’t included it in every single H2, though, because that kind of repetition can turn off readers.
Your page should be readable, first and foremost. If keywords fit naturally, then you can go ahead and include them, as well.
Always think of your user first. Then, optimize for Google.
Headers are just one of the many facets of on-page optimization that can impact your SEO. If you feel like you need help, or just don’t have the time to do it yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out us or give us a call at 305-455-0720.