When you’re optimizing a webpage for search engine rankings (and consumer reach, by extension), it’s important to cast a wide net in order to maximize your opportunities to rank higher. One simple way to ensure effective on-page SEO is to implement best practices for header tags.
A Head Tag is Used For What, Exactly?
Header tags are used for the organization of content on a page – they create structure, establish a hierarchy of importance for each headline and subheadline, and summarize the whole page as well as each section of content.
Header tags simply correspond with some principles of presenting high-quality, easily readable material for your page viewers:
Your page content should have:
A headline that summarizes the general topic of the page
Multiple sections dividing up the content of the page
A subheadline for each section, summarizing that section’s content
Once you have your content summarized with a headline and categorized with subheads, it’s just a matter of adjusting the basic page coding to assign header tags to each of them.
Why Do Header Tags Matter?
Since header tags establish structure and summarize content, they help search engines to accurately determine the topic and context of the page. This presents an opportunity to include focus keywords: keyword-rich headers let search engines know to serve up your tasty content to the very people who are looking for it.
And while the tags themselves may not directly affect ranking as much as they used to, the use of header structure remains important to SEO for another, increasingly important reason: it improves user experience, and then the page ranks higher as a result.
A well-written header structure…
Reflects unique, high-quality content
Establishes trustworthiness and value for users and search engines
Increases accessibility by enabling visually-impaired users to navigate the page
How Header Tags are Structured
You might think of webpage headings (and the header tags that go with them) as similar to an article outline, a table of contents in a book, or even a set of these space shuttle nesting dolls (you’ll see why as you read on).
H1: Your page’s headline (corresponding to the page’s H1 element, or H1 tag) is the level one heading – it summarizes and encompasses the content of the whole page, and all of its subsections. Your page’s code should only have one H1, and that H1 should only contain your page’s headline.
H2: Each H2 element corresponds to subheadings that “nest” directly below the importance of what’s in the headline. Your reader should be able to get a full, coherent summary of your page’s content if they only read the H1 and H2s.
H3 – H6: These header tags are useful for subdividing content even further (this is where those nesting dolls come to mind!). Each H3 should be a relevant subsection of its own H2, each H4 should be a relevant subsection of its H3, and so on.
Clear as space soot? Let’s look at a structural header tag example:
<h1> Why Space Shuttle Nesting Dolls are Fantastic
<h2> Space Shuttles are a Fascinating Theme
<h3> Space Exploration has Adventurous Appeal
<h3> Space Shuttles are an Important Part of Human History
<h2> Nesting Dolls are a Classic Toy
<h3> Nesting Dolls are Appropriate for All Ages
<h3> Nesting Dolls Teach Cultural Diversity
<h2> Space Shuttle Nesting Dolls are a Surprising Twist on a Basic Concept
<h3> Space Shuttle Nesting Dolls Can Make a Great Niche Gift
See how the H1 and H2s provide a basic guide to the overall content? Similarly, the reader gets an idea of what’s in each sectionif they just read the h2 & h3s for that section.
Incorporating Keywords into Header Tags
As mentioned earlier, header tags provide a prime opportunity to guide search engines on what your content is about – and as such, should include highly relevant focus keywords to help your content show appropriately in search.
The key to doing this in a way that works for your ranking – and not against it – is simply to write unique, useful content and then incorporate your focus keywords naturally.
Header keyword Heck No’s:
Keyword stuffing – Don’t cram a bunch of keywords into a header in a bid for better rankings. I know we said to cast a wide net, but this isn’t the way to do it – it can actually hurt your rankings.
Forcing keywords in – don’t incorporate keywords where you can’t get them to read smoothly with your content.
Using irrelevant keywords – keywords that seem relevant at first blush might not relate as closely to your page as you think, and can work against your rankings.
Remember that your best opportunity to rank well lies in creating quality content; never sacrifice content quality for keyword inclusion. Since Google prioritizes high-quality and trustworthy-looking content with a good user experience, so should you.
Making Your Digital Strategy Soar
Congratulations – you’re cleared to initiate launch on your rankings through header tag optimization!
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