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Headings and SEO go hand in hand. While heading tags are not a direct ranking factor on Google, optimising your headings for SEO can improve your SERP visibility and help you target relevant visitors.

Utilising headings on your webpages or in your content helps you to deliver a good user experience that encourages accessibility and usability, particularly when used in longer-form content. Find out how to optimise heading tags in SEO, how to use the correct SEO heading structure and discover our summary of SEO headings best practices in this post.

What Is A Heading In SEO?

Headings for SEO are no different from a heading in any other piece of content. The main purpose of a heading is:

  • to be a signpost
  • to briefly describe what a section of content is about
  • to provide context
  • to structure your content
  • to break up long pieces of text to make them easier to read

Heading tags in SEO exist in your webpage HTML. HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and it is the language that is used to create webpages. HTML tags define a webpage’s layout and the elements that exist on the page and how visual content appears for users.

Heading tags are the bits of code within your webpage HTML that indicate headings on the web page, translating to how the browser should display the content on the page.

How Do You Use SEO Headings?

The heading tags within HTML go from h1 down to h6, where the h1 is the most important tag, and the h6 is the least important.

You’re probably familiar with them without knowing – heading tags in SEO look like this:

<h1>Heading 1</h1>

Heading tags are arranged hierarchically, and this is a structure you should seek to emulate in your content. So, the heading structure for the SEO titles on your page should look like this:

<h1>Heading 1</h1>

                              <h2>Heading 2</h2>

                                             <h3>Heading 3</h3>

                                                            <h4>Heading 4</h4>

                                                                           <h5>Heading 5</h5>

                                                                                          <h6>Heading 6</h6>

Using H1 Tags

Your h1 tag is basically your page’s title, and it helps both users and search engine bots understand what your page is about. A h1 is the biggest and most important heading on the page.

A h1 is slightly different to a title tag, though, as title tags are optimised page titles that appear in the SERP (search engine results page) rather than on the page itself. In comparison, the h1 is shown on the website or webpage.

How Do You Optimise H1 Tags?

  • Include your primary keyword in the heading
  • Style your h1 to stand out against other headings and page content
  • Make your h1 short, descriptive and easy to digest

Can I Have Multiple H1 Tags?

There’s no hard and fast rule, really. Google says that it’s okay to use more than one h1 in a piece of content, but we think that a h1 should be reserved for your main title and primary keyword. This ensures that your content is as focused and relevant as possible.

Using H2 Tags

Your h2 tag is a subheading that should contain your secondary keywords. If you’re writing long-form content -that is content of 3,000 words or more – you can use more than one h2 tag in the piece. However, you must follow the same hierarchical structure when doing so.

Using H3-H6 Tags

Your h3 is a further subheading for your content that follows your h2. It’s basically a subheading for your h2. Your h4 is a subheading for your h3, and so on, to clarify and organise your page content all the way down to a h6.

Why Are Headings Important For SEO?

  • Provide a good user experience

Making your webpage or content user-friendly can have a significant impact on your SEO. While using heading tags doesn’t directly affect your ranking on Google, the search engine does consider user experience a ranking factor. Therefore, when your content is easier to digest, search engine bots deem your content useful and helpful and better for user experience.

  • Promote accessibility

Using appropriate headings on your webpage can also improve the accessibility for users who can’t read screens easily.  Plus, using a header allows screen readers to navigate more easily to relevant sections of your content.

  • Show text structure and break up the text

Headings are important for usability, especially as readers are looking for content fast and so tend to skim read to get a basic idea. If your headings aren’t descriptive or relevant to what your reader is searching for, your users may leave your page faster, impacting your bounce rate. In fact, SEO Guru Neil Patel conducted a study that found that adding an appropriate h1 increased organic search traffic to a blog post by 85%, and from page three of the SERP to position eight on page one, so it’s important that you utilise your headings.

  • Capture featured snippets

From an SEO perspective, using headings is a great way to optimise for featured snippets by answering related questions or getting your keywords in so that users know exactly what your content is about and so Google knows what your page should rank for.

SEO Headings Best Practice

So, how do you optimise heading tags?

  • Use keywords in your headings

Even though headings aren’t a ranking factor on Google, optimising your titles and subtitles using key search terms helps Google to understand better what your page is about. Therefore, including keywords in a prominent position on the page, such as in your headings, means your content is more likely to show up in the SERP for relevant queries.

  • Don’t forget about long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are more specific search terms used by customers, typically when they’re closer to a purchase. Plus, long-tail queries, particularly in the form of questions, are rising in line with voice search popularity. Therefore, you should utilise long-tail keywords or related questions to provide the most relevant and tailored content to the audience you’re trying to reach at a time when they’re closer to converting.

A Dog with a Long Tail
  • Make your heading big, bold and visible

Style your heading however you like to fit your brand in terms of colours or fonts. However, ensure that your headings are big, bold and noticeable to improve the navigation on your page for users.

  • Match user intent

Use a heading tag to describe the topic of your page or piece of content in a way that means something to your target audience. Using a search intent-based keyword strategy ensures that your writing remains useful and relevant to the right audience at the right time.

  • Use headings to provide structure to your piece

Headings and subheadings are useful to structure your pieces, making your content easier to write and ultimately easier for your users to read. Plus, subheadings can aid navigation and make it easier for readers to skim content to find exactly what they’re looking for.

  • Make your headings engaging

Interesting and engaging headings on your page are important to encourage your audience to stay on your page for longer. This benefits your SEO strategy as a lower bounce rate sends a quality signal to Google that your page contains relevant information and boosts your ranking on the SERP.

  • Make your content easier to read

Headings are useful to break up the text so that content is more interesting and engaging for users than a blanket of words that look messy and hard to read.

  • Use one h1 per page

Using just one h1 per webpage ensures that your content remains focused and relevant on one particular topic, the topic or area you wish to rank for.

So, while using headings doesn’t directly influence your ranking on Google, the relationship between headings and SEO is not to be underestimated. Specifically, the importance of using the correct SEO heading structure and optimising SEO heading tags to deliver a good user experience for your readers and potential customers.

Get in touch if you can think of some more SEO headings best practices or if we can help you optimise your headings for SEO to boost your online presence.