The heading structure of your pages is one of your most influential aspects for optimizing on-page SEO. The heading structure of your website defines which parts of your content are meaningful, and how they interconnect. Since every page on your website has different goals, each page needs a different heading structure than your homepage.
This post intends to guide you with some basic tools needed to optimize your heading structure for SEO.
Why are header tags important?
Header tags are simply paragraph headings. The reason they are so important to SEO is because search engine spiders check them to help decide which key terms are relevant for the page.
H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6 header tags also make things easier for the reader to quickly find the information that they are looking for on your web page.
Headings and HTML5
With HTML5, the entire method of dealing with HTML headings has changed since HTML4 / XHTML1. In this post, we will be dealing only with HTML5, as this new system makes a lot more sense for SEO and content management systems. With the new specs, headings and heading structures are section specific, where multiple <article> or <section> elements could be part of a page and can have their own hierarchy of header tags.
5 basic HTML heading rules
Let’s look at the basic formula for HTML Headings:
- The most important heading on the page should be the H1. It is the highest level tag that tells people and search engines what your page is all about. Search engines will give this tag more attention and weight over all other headings tags.
- There can only be one H1 tag per <section>, <article>, <nav>, or <aside>elements . Before HTML5, it was recommended to use only one H1 tag per page. But this is no longer the case and can actually hurt your SEO efforts.
- Always use a natural flow for the sub headings. Each sub heading is effectively saying that they are a level below the previous heading. So H2 goes after H1, H3 goes after H2, etc.
- Each heading should contain valuable keywords. The goal of headings is to help search engines better understand the subject matter of each page, relevancy to various search phrases, improve search accuracy and improve website ranking.
- In longer pieces of content, a heading is what helps a reader skip to the parts that they find interesting. Header tags make for more semantically rich and well-structured pages that are easy to navigate and reduce bounce rates.
Header tags don’t just help with displaying content to your users, they also structure your websites document outline. Even though outline algorithms don’t help users visually, it does create a table of contents that could be used by assistive technology that help the user, or be parsed by search engines to improve search results.
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