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Guide to HTML Headings

Header tags are an important component when it comes to SEO and web design, as they help search engines understand what your pages are about. Header tags improve your pages user experience and allow you to arrange the provided information in sections while making your content easier to read for users. In this guide we will go over the different header tags, how you should use them and common mistakes you should avoid.

What are header tags?

HTML Header tags, are used to separate the headings and subheadings of your content. When writing heading tags, you should use them as a brief explanation of the content that is going to follow your heading.

Header Tag Hierarchy

<h1>: Main title or most important heading of the page. All your pages should have one H1 tag and it should preferably be at the top of your page before the body section of the page.
<h2>: Subheadings under <h1>.
<h3> to <h6>: Additional subheadings
When creating your headings you should structure them as if they were the table of content of your page, making sure lower subheadings are incorporated properly under higher headings.
This hierarchical structure helps users quickly grasp the main points of your content and aids search engines in understanding the context and importance of each section.

Best Practices for Using Header Tags

 

Providing Structure

Header tags should outline the main topics of your page. The <h1> tag serves as the title, <h2> tags as the main sections, and <h3> to <h6> tags as subtopics within those sections. This organisation not only improves readability but also assists search engines in indexing your content correctly.

Breaking Up Text

Make sure you use subheadings properly to break up long sections of text. Readers are more likely to engage with content that is easy to scan and understand. Additionally, search engines favour well-structured content as it indicates relevance and quality.

Including Keywords

Incorporating relevant keywords into your header tags can boost your SEO, but you should not force keywords into your titles. You want your keywords to help search engines, but make sure that your keywords are naturally incorporated into your titles, and not forced into them just for search engines. This practice helps search engines determine the main topics of your content without compromising readability.

Optimising for Featured Snippets

You have probably noticed that when searching something in google, you will often find a quick answer at the top of the search results with the exact information you are looking for. These are featured snippets and if you want your content to appear there it is important that you have well-crafted header tags.
For paragraph snippets, make sure you use a relevant keyword in your <h2> tag and provide the exact answer write after the tag.
For list snippets, structure your content using <h2> and <h3> tags for each item.

Using Images as Headings

While it is simpler to have text based heading, if you have a design you would like to use as a heading (logo, personally designed heading…) you have the option of skipping the text heading and instead use an image. This won’t affect how visitors see your site, but search engines will need assistance for finding your new heading. To help search engines, it is important that you wrap the image in the appropriate heading and as always, make sure the image has an alt tag. Search engines will now spot your heading and use the alt tag of the image as the heading. Make sure alt tags include relevant keywords or the text shown in the image, instead of alt text such as “x logo” .

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Multiple <h1> Tags

Pages should always have one <h1> tag, no more and no less. You should avoid using more then one <h1> tag on a single page, as it will confuse search engines and dilute the significance of your main heading. Make sure your <h1> tag covers the main topic of your page so that search engines understand exactly what you page is about.

Ignoring Lower-Level Tags

Do not neglect the use of <h3> to <h6> tags. These tags add depth and further organise your content, making it easier for both users and search engines to navigate through detailed sections.

Using the same keywords across your headings

While it is important that you use the most relevant keyword, it is useful to not repeat the same keyword across your page. Instead you should also look for keyword variants that people may use instead of your  main keyword, and insert those in subheadings. This way your post can rank for more keywords rather then focusing on one specific one.

Targeting Only High-Traffic Keywords

Normally speaking you want to be ranking for the keywords with the highest traffic. This can be hard for small-medium companies or new companies, as it is most likely that large competitors have already taken over these the top positions for these search results. It is recommended that companies that find themselves in this situation, instead look for more specific keywords which have less competition. Your page might not rank for those big keywords, but you can make up for it by ranking at the top of the page for those lower traffic keywords.

Proper use of header tags is easy to master and implement, and are a powerful way of improving your website’s SEO and user experience. By structuring your content with a clear hierarchy, incorporating relevant keywords, and optimising for featured snippets, you can make your content more engaging and accessible. Regularly reviewing and updating your header tags ensures they align with the latest SEO practices and user expectations.

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