Optimising your page headings is one of the easiest and fastest effective ways to influence your search ranking. Not only will it boost your search engine visibility, but it can also add value and context to your website which makes it easier for users to browse and interact with you online.
We’ve summarised the basics into three easy tips to help you nail the development of your page headings.
Tip 1. Understand your headers and your titles – there’s a difference.
Page headings are generated in HTML/XHTML and are organised according to their level.
Don’t confuse a page heading with a page title. We’ll talk more about page titles in an upcoming ‘Simple SEO Tips’ post, but so you are clear, on a webpage, a page title looks like the first image below, and in search engine results the page title translates to the second image.
Tip 2. Master your H tags
There are six levels of page headings that manage your content. You’ll see them referred to as H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6. The easiest way to tell your H2s from your H6s is by the size of font they are displayed in. H1 headings are by default the largest font and H6 headings in the smallest font.
In terms of importance, H1 is the leader because, besides the page title, it acts as your main heading, while H6 is the least important heading. You might also like to think about your H1 heading as being your ‘heading for humans’. This heading is where you have some room for creativity and it forms your key hook to help readers determine if they want to read what you’ve got to say. The average reader takes just 0.2 of a second to make a decision to stay and read, or to move on – so your H1 heading really needs to count!
H headings are not mandatory, but using them correctly will definitely help boost your SEO efforts.
The code for these headings is:
With this code, the headings would appear like this:
Ho-bo web recommend remembering the heading structure by relating them back to where you live to help illustrate their level importance. For example, your business may be located in:
Another good way to explain the relevance of headings is to use the example of an online portfolio. You could have a title heading with the page name and then use H headings to describe sub-content. In the following example, we have skipped from the title heading to the H2 heading, as the title and H1 are the same.
<Title>Jane Smith’s Resume</title>
An example of the various page headings in action.
Tip 3. Use your headers correctly
Now that you know the basics about headers, let’s start applying that knowledge to how you can use them to your advantage.
Some tips to think about:
It's widely thought that Google pays the most attention to H1 headers, so put the majority of your effort here.
Remember, you don’t have to use every heading type in your webpage. Some pages will only require the use of a title and potentially a H2 header. Use them appropriately and don’t add them in ‘just because’.
Google suggests using only one H1 heading in your page and not skipping levels (for instance from H2 to H6) as it can cause issues.
Try to limit your H2 headings to twice or three times in a page if you’re looking for a succinct website.
Use headings below H1 (i.e. H2 – H6) as subheadings.
Ensure all headers are text only and don’t include elements like template navigation.
Use CSS to help align headings and content into a form that is visually appealing.
Getting page headings correct is crucial to your overall SEO plan and with the right headings and structure you can attract traffic and appear higher in search rankings.
Keep an eye out for the next article in our Simple SEO Tips series – ‘page titles’.