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Header Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them to Improve SEO

You can enhance SEO with the strategic use of header tags. Learn to structure content effectively, improve readability, and signal relevance to search engines.

Home / Blogs / Header Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them to Improve SEO
Raghav Tayal

Head Of Operations - Digital Web Solutions

March 25, 2024

Header tags are an essential part of SEO as they are responsible for a page’s ranking on search engines. The element holds such importance in search engine optimization that it can help even the newest websites rank higher on search engines. Here is everything you need to know about header tags.

What are Header Tags?

Header tags are HTML codes used to define subheadings and content on a page separately. They range from H1 to H6, with H1 being the most prominent one. The header tags improve readability while making the page more SEO-friendly.

Whether you are writing a blog or designing a web page, it can become challenging for search engine crawlers to determine what the page is about without appropriate labeling. Header tags label the page’s content in a hierarchical order, making it easier for crawlers and humans to understand what the page is about.

Header tags are usually represented as: <h2> What are Header Tags? </h2>

The HTML header tags follow a hierarchical order, with H1 being of paramount importance in giving context about the page and subsequent header tags highlighting what the page is discussing in systematic order.

For instance, the H1 is the most crucial part of the content, representing the web page’s main theme. The H2 and H3 tags are then used as subheadings to add more dimension to the context. Meanwhile, H4, H5, and H6 tags are used to diversify the structure of the content further, covering more related and relevant information on the subject.

Header tags make it easier for search engines and your readers to interact and engage with your page. The header is often the first thing readers notice about your website due to its placement and the clarity it offers about the page. These tags also help users determine if the page offers the information they seek.

Individual header tags (also known as subheadings) clearly lay out information in an easy-to-understand and systematic manner. This increases user engagement significantly. Additionally, as search bots use header tags to identify the primary keyword for the page, a well-constructed header tag can boost your ranking potential.

4 Benefits of Header Tags

Here are some reasons why using header tags will make your website more credible and rank higher:

1. It structures the content for readability

Imagine going through a blog that has no clear beginning or end, even if the heading displayed on SERP seemed very promising. The giant bulk of text can make it difficult to understand what’s happening and if the content piece has the information you are looking for. You will instead want to move to a website that offers a better view of the content.

Here, the problem is not with the content but how it is presented. As most website visitors will not read every sentence, header tags can increase engagement by capturing their attention while aptly describing the content.

2. They give room to add target keywords

Since header tags are usually larger in size, they are more likely to grab the attention of your website visitors. By adding target keywords, you can make your header tags more crawlable, with an increased likelihood of your website ranking on search engines. However, it is important not to stuff these headers with keywords. The trick is ensuring you use keywords in moderation while keeping the headings value-oriented.

3. They can feature on rich snippet

Optimizing header tags can increase your chances of getting featured in rich snippets. Using long-tail keyword search terms and keeping the headers crisp will make your content seem more informative and worthy of being featured on rich snippets.

4. Tells the web browser how to display content

Header tags clearly indicate the hierarchy of headers to be followed in the content. It allows the web browser to arrange the content in systematic order, creating a more visually appealing and clear-to-read format.

What are H1 tags?

The H1 tag is HTML code placed at the top and is the main title for a piece of content, defining what the page’s content will be about. It contains an opening <h1> tag, the page’s main title, and closes with a closing tag. </h1>. A web page can have only one H1 tag, which should be placed at the very beginning of the page to allow users to know the main theme and topic the web page will cover.

Five reasons that make the H1 tag important for SEO:

  • A descriptive H1 helps search engines and viewers to understand your content better.
  • It makes the content more accessible for people with screen readers to understand the content in a structured format.
  • H1 enhances user experience by letting people know what to expect from the page at a glance. As user experience is a ranking factor, an optimized and well-framed H1 tag will make it easier for bots to crawl your website.
  • It reassures the user that they are on the right page to find the information they are looking for.

How many Header Tags are supported by HTML?

Traditionally, HTML supports up to six header elements (from H1 to H6) to structure the content on a page. While a web page can have as many H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 as needed, the use of H1 is limited to once per page. The header elements can be customized to fit the theme and nature of the business.

At the same time, it is important that your header elements stick to the theme of the content at all times and are not misleading. Incorrect header tags can make it challenging for your readers and search engines to understand the intent of your page clearly. Creating header elements that are in sync with your content and are value-driven is essential.

How Header Tags And SEO Are Related

Header tags are an important ranking factor that search engines like Google use to rank the page on SERP. Google crawls web pages often (anywhere between days to weeks) to find search-intent-friendly content. Properly written and placed header elements can help ensure crawlers scan your website correctly.

The header tags are an indication that you have marked a piece of content as important, and search engine bot will use this information to determine the context and relevance of your page.

As Google is always on the lookout for content that serves a meaningful purpose to a search query, the more information-oriented content you are signaling your website to have, the higher your chances of ranking on SERP.

Due to this, it is important to keep the headings search intent-oriented and use keywords that align with your content. Without a relevant keyword in the H1 tag (with other header elements, images, and meta tags not being related and relevant to the intent), search engines will have a hard time figuring out what your content is about.

It will eventually dampen your efforts. Instead, focus on creating an intent-rich heading structure where each heading clearly describes a concrete concept (being covered by corresponding content pieces) and has the right target keywords in it.

How to Add Header Tags in HTML

Adding a header tag in HTML is simple. For instance, the HTML code for H1 will start with <h1> the title text </h1>.

Here’s an example:

For the blog with H1 (the main title):

Header Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them to Improve SEO

The HTML code element will be:

<h1> Header Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them to Improve SEO </h1>

Notably, this format will work on HTML4 or older versions. If you are using HTML5, the code will vary slightly. Let’s understand this with an example:

For the blog with H1 (the main title):

Header Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them to Improve SEO

The HTML code element will be:

<header><h1> Header Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them to Improve SEO </h1></header>

You can choose to use punctuation in your header tag without having to add any additional code elements.

With Google using header tags to direct web browsers on how to display the content in a systematic order, it is crucial that every header element has been placed correctly. In case of improper header element placement, the header tags will not display in the right order, impacting readability and user experience.

6 Best Practices for Using Header Tags to Boost Your Website SEO

1. Optimize your header tags with keywords

Keywords in header tags play a crucial role in telling crawlers that your content is offering value and information people might be looking for. Keyword research plays a critical role as it enables you to find the range of keywords your potential customers use in their searches.

Using these keywords in your header tags will ensure you are able to come across as a reliable source of information. However, it is essential that your headings are not filled with keywords alone. It looks spammy and is something that search engines do not appreciate. Instead, focus on using meaningful keywords that connect content pieces together.

2. Instill search intent with your header tags

Header tags are an effective way to emphasize that your content aligns with the search intent. Search engines prioritize content that meets the search intent as the focus is heavily shifting to providing valuable information over showing options in bulk.

With the header tag (the H1 or the main title) being seen first (and, as a result, crawled first), it is essential that they have the right target keywords and clearly indicate that the content is tailored to align with the search intent. The rest of the header tags should continue to reinforce the same alignment throughout the content.

Using long-tail keywords or their semantic variations in the header tags can be incredibly helpful in ensuring this. These types of keywords work as they are more descriptive and can cover the topic in detail. When your users find the content to be valuable, they are more likely to stay on the page for longer, signaling to search engines that your page is meeting the search intent.

3. Optimize your page structure using header tags

Header tags help your viewers and search engines seamlessly grasp your page’s context. By systematically organizing your header tags, you can ensure better readability, information flow, and visual appearance of your content.

Using header tags in an arranged manner also breaks up visual blocks of content into an easy-to-read format that can be presented in a table of contents format as well, further adding to readability.

4. Write to get featured in rich snippets

The feature snippets are texts that appear at the zeroth position on Google’s search results. They aim to answer the search query quickly without requiring the user to read an entire page on a website.

The content that gets featured in rich snippets is usually taken from web pages that Google has indexed and found credible. Often, Google pulls subheadings or content in those subheadings to provide answers to a search query.

5. Make your website more accessible

As Google’s Core Web Vitals turn into an important ranking factor, it has become crucial for website owners to provide a top-notch user experience. Additionally, as your website will cater to a wide range of audiences, header tags provide uniformity, ensuring your content is accessible to everyone.

Screen readers have made it possible for people with visual impairments to read text using speech synthesizers or with Braille display. However, if a website doesn’t have a proper content flow or well-planned header tag architecture, it can turn out to be difficult for screen readers to understand a web page accurately. It will also cause navigational issues on the website.

By keeping your header tags to the point, keyword-rich, and intent-specific, you can ensure that a broader audience is able to read your content, find what they are looking for, and ultimately have a seamless browsing experience.

6. Aptly describe what your page is about

The more descriptive your header tags are, the more likely they are to engage with your potential customers. Vague and inconsistent header tags do not serve any purpose, as they do not describe the context of the page properly. In fact, they can be misleading for your viewers and search engines.

Creating sufficiently descriptive header tags makes your content more relatable, enjoyable, and relevant to the search query. As a result, it will subsequently increase the time people will spend on your site, indicating to search engines that your page is valuable.

Header tags: Key to capturing attention and search intent

Header tags are an easy-to-leverage Google ranking factor that will help your website scale significant positions in SERP. All you need to do is keep your header tags related to the context of your content, add relevant target keywords, and be sufficiently informative at all times.

Additionally, as header tags provide a better understanding of your content to both search engines and target customers, make sure to keep them search intent-oriented. Avoid keyword stuffing at all times and regularly review your tags to track performance. If you are still not sure how to make header tags work for your website, consider speaking with our experts to have your header tags professionally taken care of.

Header tags provide structure to a web page and improve readability and user experience. Learn to write the best header tags and their importance here. Read more!

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