I have seen some interesting H tag copy and/or H tag structures in my day. As a valuable part of on-page optimization, I used to wonder why they are so underutilized. Were SEOs not paying attention to the technical layout? Were designers not aware of the potential SEO benefits of following a logical H tag structure? Did the questionable CMS automatically assign the H tags? Where is the disconnect?
I’ve come to realize that the disconnect is everywhere — between SEOs and designers, the developers and the designers, the writers and the SEOs… So what is the solution?
Make sure that everyone who touches the H tags on your website is aware of the best practices for their implementation and how they impact SEO.
Why are H tags (heading tags) important for SEO?
The H tags on website pages are important for SEO because they indicate to search engines what we’re telling users the page is about. Since the H tags are “user-facing,” they are generally more “readable” versions of the meta page titles and contain a specific keyword (KW) term. Each page of a website has its own “theme,” (the KW term, or terms) and the text we use for creating the H tags is regarded as the first thing a user reads on the page.
Why is it important to follow a hierarchy when creating H tags?
Search engines assume we are structuring web pages (and the content on those pages) in a logical manner that will be easiest for readers to understand. By using a single, optimized H1 tag on any web page (and then H2 tags for secondary headings, H3 tags for sub-sub headings, etc.), we are indirectly telling search engines we are following a logical, useful content structure for users.
Example heading tag hierarchy:
What H tags should not include:
- Omnipresent navigation elements that will be repeated across multiple pages/URLs
- Logos wrapped in H tags
- Brand names repeated in H tags across multiple pages/URLs
- “Welcome to XYZ Website” statements in H tags
Alternatives to H tags:
For headings on web pages that do not follow a logical content flow, I suggest creating a CSS class that mimics the properties of the desired H tag. That way, the design elements can remain intact without inadvertently communicating the “wrong message” to search engines.