Understanding Heading Tags in Web Content
Heading tags are important in web content for many different reasons. Not only do heading tags inform search engines what the page content is about, but they provide a visual break in content making it easier for readers to stay engaged. Placing heading tags where it makes most sense gives the reader smaller, digestible pieces of content to read rather than an unappealing block of text. Take a look at the example below—you can see first hand that heading tags make a big impact.
Do Write Heading Tags Naturally
There’s no particular formula to consider when writing heading tags. The heading should describe what’s coming next in the content and keywords should be incorporated when able. The heading tags should help guide readers through a natural progression to inform what’s coming next. In addition to informing readers, headings also indicate to search engines what the page content is about. This helps search engines determine the relevance of your website content and they will display your content if it is relevant to what the user is searching. This is why placing keywords within the heading is important.
Don’t Use Multiple H1 Tags
H1 tags are typically the page title, depending on how the website code is set up. Search engines read an H1 tag as the main entity of the page. It should indicate what the content is about and inform search engines on how to categorize or place your website’s content in search results. Since heading tags work as a hierarchy of importance, it’s essential to only assign one H1 tag to a page. However, it’s acceptable to assign multiple H2 - H6 tags to other sections of content on the page.
Do Support the Content
As mentioned before, search engines use heading tags to interpret what the content on a page is all about. Adding popular keywords just because they have a high ranking—not because they are relevant to the article—is not the way to go. The heading tags should always support the content that follows.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Heading Tags Generously
We aren’t suggesting a heading tag before every sentence by any means. Headings should be used when relevant and to add substance to the content. However, this doesn’t mean you should limit the content to only one or two headings. If content can be broken up into multiple sections, do it! This creates more opportunities to add in headings with relevant keywords. Not only that, but it also makes a better reading experience for your audience— especially on a mobile device.
Do Be Unique with Heading Tags
Repetition can be good in certain cases—to reinforce a point, remain consistent, etc. However, repetition in heading tags can be detrimental, both to a reader’s engagement level and to search engines. Repeating heading tags on the same pages (or even different pages) can confuse the reader and search engines as to what content is about and its level of importance. Additionally, using unique heading tags helps saturate content with keywords.
Do Use H3 Tags to Group Lists
One last “do” (because we like to end things on a positive note). We know H1 tags are used for the title, and H2 tags break up important content on the page. But what about those H3 tags? H3 tags (or lower) can be used to break up “less important” content. Of course, if the content is on the page, it’s important. However, these tags are great for bulleted lists under other content that may begin with an H2 tag. For example, each of our do’s and don’ts are using H3 tags because it’s a list. Below is another example showing how these tags can be implemented.
Feeling ready to tackle heading tags now? We encourage you to browse through your website and see just how many pages are missing headings—you may be surprised. Just be sure to remember these important do’s and don’ts when planning out the perfect heading tags. And if you need a refresher, do some exploring on reusserdesign.com for some great examples.