Using Header Tags For SEO

typing heading tags
Alex Corral
Alex Corral
April 17, 2018
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SEO
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The “H” tags. Do they really matter for SEO?

Many people don't really understand the “H” tags.

In my opinion, I believe that they do, but not for the reasons that many might have you believe.

A backstory on this blog post

The reason that I wrote this article today is because a client of ours asked if it was bad if H1 and H2 are the same. My answer was that technically yes, but honestly not really. Let me explain in further detail.

Most SEO tools that you use will will flag duplicate H1 And H2 tags or missing H1 or H2 tags. Technically they are correct. This is an SEO no-no, but there is a catch. If you have a 200-300 word piece of content, with no media, or anything else, it is going to look a little funky (eh-hem) forced to put a title, H1, and H2 in that small bit of text. In my opinion, I putting these in for the sake of stuffing a keyword in there might have done more harm than good at that moment, and in this particular case.

Just having the headings in there will not automatically make your content rank better. What will make the content rank better is…..better content! Go figure. Now if you have better content (typically longer, but not always) then you will find more usefulness for the heading tags. If you are using a good amount of these tags, then there is a good chance that your article is going to be much more thorough or in depth. Something that would require more sections and subsections. Using the tags in this case will make your document more reader-friendly and it will also add structure to your webpage. That is what I believe benefits your SEO. Simple keyword stuffing never did anyone any good.

What are header tags

Header tags, “H” tags, or headings are larger headings/blocks of texts that are used to break up larger blocks of text. They also typically change the weight/size/emphasis of the font so that they can stand out. The header that is above this paragraph is wrapped in an H1 tag. Style can be different depending on the CMS (Content Management System) that you are using but in this article the headings would look like this:

This is an H1

This is an H2

This is an H3

This is an H4

This is an H5
This is an H6

They are very helpful because no one likes to read big blocks of text at a time. I dont know about you, but when I get 5-600 words into a large block of text, I can start developing a blindness and lose my place. Having the header tags helps to get through the reading.

So these tags are important for SEO

Typically there are alot of moving parts when you are talking about search engines. There are on page factors and off page factors. You have to structure things to how the search engines like, but you should always keep the real users in mind. Alienating either one could spell doom for your site.

There was a time when simply putting your target keyword in the H1 tag would catapult you to the top of the SERP. This is no longer the case. Too many people abused it, and its use changed.

I don't believe that you even have to have your target keyword in there to rank for it. I believe that structuring your content in such a way, with the use of header tags can help you rank. If you get the semantics of the topic, you could do pretty well. In all honesty though, since I have been doing this for almost a decade now, I can tell you that I still try to put my keyword in there. I just don't force it anymore. When I first started, I would make sure that it was in there no matter what, but not anymore.

How can I use these h1 h2 h3 tags

If you are using one of the popular content management systems (Wordpress is one of the major ones) then it should be pretty simple. If you are using these, then there is usually a field that you fill in, or a drop down menu that you use to change the text to headings. Any CMS should have specific instructions on how to accomplish this.  

You can see whether or not you have “H” tags by right-clicking on the webpage and choosing “view source” or “inspect element.” Either of these should do the trick for our purposes. One you have done that you can search for these headings by pressing the Command + F keys on a Mac or Control + F keys on a PC. Simply look for H1, H2, etc. They should be contained in brackets like this <h1>This is my text</h1>

Think about the following outline and see how the Headers are used:

Product A Vs. Product B (H1)

Product A (H2)

Pros (H3)

Cons (H3)

Product B (H2)

Pros (H3)

Cons (H3)

It is a very dumbed down example, but you can visualize the structure on the page just by looking at the outline. The most important headline is the H1 and it covers the entire topic of the post. The H2’s clearly dive a bit deeper into the specific products. The H3’s speak about the pros and cons in relation to these products. This structure works because both humans and computers can almost instantly figure out what this article is going to be about and get to the information that they are looking for quickly.  

Conclusion

I know that this is not the coolest subject, but it is something that should always be addressed when you are trying to optimize a page. The only exception to this is when you have other content issues that need to be addressed and adding these wouldn’t add much benefit. This could be the case as I had mentioned at the beginning of this article. If this is the case, then you need to improve content first. If you feel that your content is adequate then adding these H tags can only help your SEO.

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