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What are Headings?
Headings are pieces of HTML code that allow you to make certain words stand out on a page. To understand how headings work on a web page, let’s consider an article in a magazine or newspaper. The title of the article is usually bigger and more pronounced than other words. It may be bold, colored, underlined or have some other format quality that makes it stand out. Whatever the case, this allows you to scan a page in a magazine or newspaper and pick out the sections you want to read. An h1 tag is similar. It makes certain words to stand out, which allows readers of your website to see what the page is about immediately, and determine whether or not they want to read it. It also helps tell search engines what your page is about, and when used in conjunction with page title, META description, keywords and keyword targeted content, helps improve search engine ranking for specific keywords and phrases.
How Can I See if my Website Uses h1 Tags and Other Headings?
In the SEO video above, we show you how to look at the HTML code behind your site, and see if your pages are using h1 tags. To do so, follow these steps:
- Open your Internet browser and go to the URL of the page you want to check
- Click ‘view’ then ‘source.’ A new window will open displaying the HTML code
- Click ‘edit’ then ‘find.’
- Type in <h1 and click ‘find next’
- This will now highlight the sections of your site that are using the h1 tag
- Follow the same steps for h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6
Why is the h1 Tag so Important?
The h1 tag is the most important heading because it’s the highest level tag that shows what your specific page is about. Search engines generally give this tag more weight over other headings, so it usually improves your search engine ranking when you use it correctly and in conjunction with other onsite SEO techniques.
What About h2, h3, h4, etc? Are These Headings Important?
Yes, but not as important to the search engines as your h1 tag. Unlike the h1 tag, you may have multiple h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6 sub-headings. Think of these sub-headings as ways of organizing the content on your page for your readers more than for the search engines. These headings should also contain important keywords and help organize your content into sections, so readers can scan your page and decide if it’s something they’re interested in reading.
My Website is Using an h1 tag. Now How Can I Tell if my h1 Tag is Optimized?
To determine if you’re putting your h1 tag to good use, follow this advice:
- Your website should have only one h1 tag. If you have more than one h1 tag on a page, change the other h1 tags to an h2 or h3.
- Your h1 tag should be at the top of the page content (above any other heading tags in the page code). If your site is divided in to columns the left column may appear “higher” in the code. Be sure it does not contain any h1 tags as most likely the center column contains the main content of the page.
- Your h1 tag should contain your most important keywords for that page and if possible the first word or words in the h1 should be the keywords. These should also match the page title keywords and META keywords
- Your h1 tag should help your reader understand what the page is about
If you have questions about using headings, or need help optimizing your website, contact your webmaster or contact us—we’ll be happy to review your site and assist you in optimizing your website to improve your search engine ranking.