How to optimize Header Tags for SEO

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What are Header tags? Why should we use Header tags in our content?

Would anyone like to read an article without any headings? Of course, the answer is a big ‘No’. So it’s hard for almost everyone to read an article without headings. In HTML (Hyper Text Mark up language) header tags are used to define headings and sub-headings of a web page. Headings and sub-headings, in fact, give a glimpse of what the article is about. They also make the text easier to read and understand. This further makes the user find out if the article is relevant for their search. In fact clear, descriptive and structured key-word rich header tags speak everything about the content. They have the power to make or break a user’s visit.

Header tags are headings in our article and are similar to headers on a printed document.They provide a structure to the content which is highly beneficial to both the users and the search engines. They can also be treated as a text sizing and styling tool.

From SEO’s point of view:

Anything which benefits the user is always good for SEO. Hence Header tags add more value to SEO. They help the search engines to spot our page based on the keywords .Search engines similar to visitors examine these headers to understand what the content exactly is. Hence it is very important for us to write descriptive headings which are highly relevant to our content. They can indirectly boost our rankings by breaking the content and making it easier and enjoyable to read. Hence an organised header is important for SEO.

How many headers are there and what are they?

Based on the hierarchy there are 6 header tags. They begin with <h1>, which is considered as the most important tag and end with <h6>, the least important one. The bigger the header number, the smaller would be the text. It means H1 tag has a font of bigger size/weight and H6 tag has the smallest font size.

H1 is usually reserved for the title of a post which gives a solid outline about the post. H1 tag also shows up in the address bar of the web browser. This is because the title of the post is wrapped in <h1> tag.

Example1 :


       <title>This is the title of this page </title>


Here, in this example, the title tag just appears in the address bar of the web browser. It will not appear in the body of the web page.

Example2 :  (Which is normally used now-a-days)


       <title>This is the title of this page </title>



   <h1>This is the title of this page </h1>


Here, the title tag appears both in the body of the web page as well as on the address bar of the web browser. There is no need to worry about all this coding. Because, today in most CMS’s such as Word Press, title tag automatically uses the H1 tag as shown in the example2.

H2 tag is relatively smaller in terms of size compared to H1. H2 defines H1 in a more detailed way. Using more than one H2 tag in our post with a hierarchical structure is completely fine. H3 is a subheading for H2 and it can also be used multiple times within a post.

H4 forms a subheading for H3 and so onBut H4, H5, H6 are rarely used within a post and can be treated as least important header tags.

Example : Let us take an example of our web page to demonstrate the header tags. Here,

“Header Tags : How to optimize Header Tags for SEO” is an example of H1 tag.

“What are Header tags? Why should we use Header tags in our content?” forms an example for H2 tag.

“From SEO’s point of view:” is an example for H3 tag and the rest of the content below this heading can be treated as H4.Similarly the next heading “How many headers are there and what are they?” belong to H2 tag and this way the headers H2,H3 and H4 continues to repeat till the end of this page.

What are the best practises to optimise Header tags for SEO ? How should we incorporate these optimised headers into the content effectively ?

Below are some of the best practises to incorporate optimised Header tags into the content effectively.

Using the Header Tags to make the page more readable :

An article should be easy to read, and readable articles perform super well in the search engines. Forbes stated that “The most overlooked factor of content marketing is readability”.

According to a survey,only 16% of the internet users read each and every word of an article. Visitors simply love to run through the content with their eyes.It means they just want to scan.

Visitors stay on articles which are easy to read(scan),they stick on to such articles instead of bouncing back to Google for more articles.

This would make them share the content on Social Media.Sharing the content on social media is an organic way to earn back links and this further serves as a ranking factor.

So the most important thing is to break the content and make it easy for the users to read.

Having Structured Header Tags :

Our Header tags should provide structure to our article. Headers should give the user a note of information they can glean from the paragraph that follows it.

Let us take a nice example to illustrate this.The H1 tag which we use in our article should convey the user what our webpage is about, similar to the title of a book which tells a reader what the book is about.

H2 tags in our article should describe more about H1. H2 is normally used to break the H1 taginto easy understandable bits. It is like a subheading for H1.These tags are similar to chapters in a book describing the main topics that would be covered in the book.

Similarly the headers H3,H4,H5,H6 serve as additional sub-headings similar to multiple sub-topics within a chapter of the book.H1-H3 tags would normally suffice the post.Unless and until the web page is text heavy,we dont use the tags H4,H5 and H6.

H1 should be used first, it can be followed by H2. H3 should be used after H2 and this order continues. But, H2 can be used after using H3.

Incorporating only one H1 tag :  

Using one H1 tag for a webpage is a good practice from SEO’s point of view.H1 tag normally represents the title of the page. Incorporating one H1 tag makes more sense to both the users and the search engines.Using multiple H1 tags on the page confuses both the users and the web crawlers.Hence it is best to use one H1 per page though using multiple H1 tags is allowed.

Including relevant  keywords into the Header:

One more important thing is to include a focus keyword in the Header tags. In fact a page’s H1 tag is one of the most important places to use a keyword. We have to use the words which people use to search their queries when they look for our content. If we are targeting a question, we have to insert the question into the H1 tag. Since search engines check the relevancy of the content on the web page to the user’s query, including a focus keyword (which the user uses to search their query) improves the Search Engine Visibility for our target keyword, and there is a possibility that our post appears on the first page of Google.

It is best to include Long-Tail Keywords in H2 tags. Including related keywords that reinforce the relevance, quality and depth of a piece of content to a user’s query is advisable.

Simply stuffing the focus keyword into the header tags would never help us to reach the top of the SERPs. Keywords should be inserted naturally and judicially.

The most important thing is that we should never over-optimize our header tags with irrelevant keywords as this can penalise our website. If we write an unnatural or weird header tag just for the sake of search engines, bothering least about the user, then it’s best to re-write, because as said above if it doesn’t benefit the user it would never benefit SEO.

Header tags should be appealing and engaging:

There is a saying called “First impression is the best impression”. This would perfectly apt the Header tag as they are the first one’s which are noticed by the users. Hence writing intriguing Header tags are highly important. They encourage the visitors to read the article.

H1 tags have the power to make the visitor either to stay on the page or to scroll down the page. Hence we have to put our efforts in writing a H1 tag that excites the user to read our article.

It is best to maintain consistency throughout the article. If we use Title case for our headers, then it is best to stick with that to all our pages.

Dont’s while writing a header tag :

Headers should not be too lengthy. We should never pack whole sentences or paragraphs as header tags.

Header tags should not be used for styling the text. They should be used to present organized and structured content on webpages.

It is not advisable to use the same keywords across all the header tags in a web page. It means we should not write same heading tags on different pages of our website. It should be unique for each and every web page. One more important thing is that the Header tag and the Meta title should never be identical.

How can I cross check if my Headings on the site are optimised or not for organic ranking?

There are many tools to check if the headings in our website are SEO optimised or not. Tools like SEMRushSiteBulb, Screaming Frog, SEO Power Suite, Xenu’s Link Sleuth, SEO Crawler, SEOmator etc.., crawl our website similar to a search engine robot.These tools not only check our headings, but also detect key SEO issues that influence the website visibility in SERP.


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