What are heading tags?
A heading can be defined as a word, phrase, or sentence placed at the beginning of a document, paragraph, or at the top of a page. A good heading describes in a nutshell what the following text is all about.
Web coding has borrowed this concept and applied it to HTML language to create heading tags.
Why do we need to use heading tags?
Imagine having to find information in a block of text with nothing pointing towards the main point. Here is where heading tags come into play, providing structure on a web page and guiding users who are reading your content.
You should use heading tags to highlight important text.
But is that their only role?
These tags also help search engines, like Google, understand what the content is about and what the most relevant information on a page is. Heading tags are denoted with a lower case “h”, giving the text a format that differentiates them from the rest.
There are six heading tags depending on how important the text you want to emphasize is, from <h1> (the most important) through <h6>. These categories of heading tags help create a hierarchical structure throughout your content, making it easier for users to navigate the page.
How does this hierarchy work?
The h1 tag is used for pages or posts titles. It is the most important tag as it lets search engines understand what the highlight of the piece is.
The h2 tag is used for subtitles and it lets you separate the content into relevant sections. It also supplements the information you provided in your title. h3 and h4 tags are used for subtitle within your h2. Ideally, these tags should contain related keywords to help search engines better understand what your content is about.
If you have sub-sub-sub- titles, then you should use h5 and h6 tags. h3 through h5 are mostly useful if you are writing long-form content as they help your guide your readers and give them pointers throughout a long text.
Heading tags Do's and Dont's
- Do use h1 for your page’s title and include a relevant keyword whenever it is possible.
- Do use heading tags wisely. Have you ever heard that saying: “If everything is important, then nothing is”? It applies to heading tags.
In the words of Google’s Matt Cutts, “if you use gazillion h1 tags, then we simply might not give them as much weight.” He stated that there should be one h1 tag for each page. This means you should make the most of it and include keywords that will help your page rank better among search engines search results.
- Do place h tags where it makes sense. If you have too few, they won´t help the reader scan the text; if you have too many, they can have the opposite effect and make the text more difficult to scan.
- Don´t place a heading tag in a text that would not help define the page’s structure.
- Don’t change tag sizes unpredictably. Never place an h2 before an h1 or an h1 in the middle of the text.
Using heading tags can be a bit complicated while you get the hang of it, but once you do, your articles will be easier to scan, easier to read, and more aesthetically appealing to readers. As a bonus, if you use them strategically, they will also improve your website’s SERP´s rankings.