The hierarchy from H1 to H6 headings and subheadings are like a signpost for a website that guides the readers about web contents. These headings are the anchors of a website’s navigation that make the content easier to read and digest, enhancing the user experience. Since SEO has evolved to focus more on content quality, relevance, structure, and overall user experience than the search engine optimisation, effective use of headers has gained substantial importance.
This article busts the rote of linking SEO ranking and headings, and guides to boost the SEO header strategy by listing some do’s and don’ts for structuring headings.
Renouncing the Rote
With the updates of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, modern SEO’s is mainly focusing on user intent. The algorithm has bestowed the search crawlers with the ability to understand the semantic meaning of the text, which has shifted the focus of SEO rankings from keywords to a user’s intent. Yet a majority of the people still focus on stuffing the heading tag with keywords out of rote, i.e. doing it out of habit without putting much thought.
The primary role of headings from Google’s perspective is to understand the composition of the content. This does not throw out the relevancy of web keywords completely but highlights the incoming of other essential factors for ranking. Thus, it is advised to create headings with keywords that will answer the user’s query and not necessarily incorporate every targeted keyword with a hope for a better website design.
Another rote belief is the decreasing importance of headings as a ranking factor when moving down the hierarchy of headers. The time when H1 tag was more critical than H2 tag as a ranking factor and that H2 than H3 and so on, was 15 years ago. It is not necessary to compose the highest header with the more essential keywords and lower with less essential. Their only intention is to ensure a nested structure of content to improve web accessibility so that humans and machines can infer information efficiently. Thus, do not waste much time and energy in stuffing headings with keywords and design user website’s experience through your headings.
Do’s and Don’ts for an effective Header Strategy
Organising pages using headings is one of the most favourable strategies to improve the accessibility of a website. Since on-page factors like web accessibility and relevance have gained high priority recently, it is important to ensure the right structuring of your webpage. Follow the Do’s and Don’ts guide to ace the header strategy.
Do ensure the relevancy of H1 header to the topic
The H1 tag forms the headline of a page and provides a reader with an overview of the topic. Copyblogger has shared that 80% of people read the headline before deciding to indulge in reading the content. It is vital for the H1 heading to be compelling and topic-focused. Thus, it should contain the key phrases from the content that aptly communicate the reader about the information contained in the webpage. It is recommended to integrate long-tail keywords into your page title, meta description or first H2 that attracts the first sign from visitors and keep they engage with the content. Keep in mind that users mostly spend 3 seconds to skim our content, so you need to place the key message that you want to attract them in the golden places (top and bottom of your article).
Do use H2 for section breaks
It is advised to use the H2 tag after every 250-500 words to make your content more digestible. Readers tend to skim the content before reading in detail. A long continuous text makes the page monotonous, and readers are likely to leave and move-on to another page. H2 tag creates breaks among the text sections, making the layout easy to skim and read. This will reduce the bounce-back rate from your webpage and increase your SEO rankings.
Do follow the hierarchy
Headings visually demonstrate the importance of the key points and distinguish them from the remaining body of the page. Thus, it is essential to have a logical header layout design starting from H1 to without skipping the levels to ensure the right visual appeal of a webpage. On the other hand, it is permissible to shuffle the levels when moving upwards if the content layout demands. For instance, you can skip from H4 (sub-section heading) to H2 (the main section heading).
Do not use multiple H1’s
Using multiple H1’s during website design and development confuses the reader, crawling bots and dilutes the impact of the title of the page. Thus, it is advised to avoid using multiple H1 tags on a single page. But this does not imply it will hurt your website’s SEO rankings. If the H1 header is used in the right context, it can improve your visibility as Google will comprehend those sections as separate articles if used rightly. This could be the case in infinite scroll websites featuring multiple articles beneath one another.
Do not overuse headings
In order to maintain an effective organisation of your webpage, do not overuse headings. Their overuse overwhelms the reader and dilutes the efforts put in the organisation of the webpage. Only occasionally webpages require heading level past H3 header. Thus, keep in mind that quality dissection of the content does not require heading for each paragraph.
Do not run behind the text styling
Sometimes, to make the text visually appealing, people either tend to skip the heading rank or stylise the paragraph words for emphasis with heading tags. Again, this offset the sole purpose of organising the content using headings. In addition, never use bold in place of a header tag as it incorrectly sets the underlying code and screen users cannot benefit from the same.
To conclude, header tags do not determine the ranking of your website directly. They are more about communicating the information within the page to the users and search engine. Therefore, the more accessible the page is through headings, the more likely the user is to stay, which in turn increases the website ranking.
The key to writing a relevant header strategy is to keep in mind that you need to write for humans and not solely for search engines. Thus, ensure to include the keywords that match the intent of your audience and structure the level of the different headings to suit their navigation needs.
Check out these tactics that every brand must follow to create content to charm customers and follow the latest trends in SEO and content marketing and to give your content marketing strategy a makeover.