Heading Tags and SEO: What You Don’t Know DOES Hurt You

The SEO value of well-used Heading Tags cannot be understated.  And, the fact is, most people do not employ heading tags to their advantage, especially in blogs.

First, let’s differentiate between the header section in a website and the heading tags on a web page.  Many people seem to confuse the two though the difference is quickly evident.

When you view the source of a web page (View | Page Source in most browsers), you see the <Head> section at the top.  This is filled with valuable SEO information such as the <Title> tag and the various Meta Tags, with the Meta Description tag being one of the most important because it is what often shows up in the search results as a description of your website.

Most people have read about value of the Head Section in terms of solid On Page Search Engine Optimization (OPSEO).   In fact, many people feel that the knowledge of the Head Section is so well known as to deem the Head Section of your web page irrelevant.  I disagree.  You must have a keyword rich <title> tag, a good description containining words that occur in your web page, AND keywords.  Yes, meta keywords.  Google doesn’t use them but other search engines still do.  So, add 5 – 10 valuable keywords to your web pages.

What is more important for SEO than the <head> section of a website?

Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3…) are the most overlooked feature for extraordinary OPSEO, especially in blogs.  If you want your website to beat the competition and appear on the top of google search engines, you must maximimize your Heading Tags.

You can find a good, simple explanation of Heading Tags at W3Schools called  HTML H1 to H6 Tag.

But why are Heading Tags so valuable? There is a simple answer to that:  Search Engines Love Heading Tags.  Also, it makes the visitor experience much more pleasant as Heading Tags provide larger text to illustrate the contents of what is below.

Most web site designers know the value of Heading Tags on their web pages as they have been schooled in this endeavor. However, bloggers are not web designers and, through no fault of their own, implement a supposed “SEO Friendly” blog only to find out that nobody reads their pages. One of the reasons is faulty Heading Tags.

Heading Tags and Blogs: One Reason Your Page is Not Read

Let’s move from the theoretical to the practical and look at three different blogs. I will choose 3 different topics at random and then look at the google results starting on page 2 (as the people on page one probably do things right).

Heading Tags Gone Wrong: Example 1

Let’s start with golf since that is a topic near and dear to my heart. This past weekend Tiger Woods made his return to golf after a long absence. Thus, Shane Bacon wrote a post entitled Tiger Woods to Return Next Wednesday At Accenture Match Play.  His post appears very low on page 2  in the google rankings right now (I may move him up with that juicy link).

How could his page have appeared higher?

Well, investiage the page.  You will see (by viewing source) that his H1 Tag is the term “golf”.  His H2 Tag is very good with Tiger Woods and Accenture Match Play in the Tag.  However, he may be on page 1 (and get many more hits) if his H1 Tag and H2 tag were reversed.

This is the affliction of most blogs.  The H1 Tag defaults to the name of the blog which often has nothing to do with the name of the post.

Example 2: No Heading Tags At All

The next search that just popped into my head is Batman. So, we’ll do a search on the term “Batman Begins Review”.

Here, on page 2, we find an article entitled Review:  Batman Begins.  This type of article should appear high on the list, especially given that it appears on a site which has a root page rank of 5.  However, it does not.

Why not?  Review the source on this page for the H1 Tag, the H2 Tag.  Where are they?  The only thing worse than incorrectly using H Tags is not using them at all!

Heading Tags, SEO, and Blogs: Mistake Example 3

Now, we are going to google and we will type in “Find A Good Man” as many women might.

On page number 5, we find an article entitled How to Find a Good Man.  This article should rank very high as it has the exact words in the title.

So why is this article relegated to page #5?  It is filled misplaced Heading Tags.  Again, we find that the H1 Tag is the name of the blog rather than the name of article–the most common mistake.   Also, we find that the first H2 Tag is the byline under the header: For all the help you need in a difficult dating world. This is another very common mistake.

Within the H2 Tag, we also find the terms “Categories”, “Monthly”, “Pages”, “Meta”, “Latest Posts”, “Feed On”, and “Search”. All of these terms are in H2 Tags and are completely irrlevant to the article.

Thus, this article sits unread on page 5 of google when it could probably be listed on Page 1 with the proper Heading Tags.

Heading Tags and SEO: Why Do So Many Sites Implement This Incorrectly and What Can Be Done About It

The reason that Heading Tags are often designated inappropriately, as mentioned above, is that bloggers are writers and they are often not aware of proper SEO techniques. To compound the problem, Bloggers use pre-designed WordPress templates and most of these have not been properly designed for SEO.

As a blogger, the most fundamental change that you can make is to change your Blog Title to an H2 Tag and ensure that your page title is the H1 Tag.

However, here you will run into problems because you will probably need to modify your single.php and/or your CSS file.  You can learn more about CSS here.   Another option is to find a blog theme that implements the H1 Tag for all of your Post Titles.

This one change, implementing proper Heading Tags,  can drastically improve your on page SEO and bring many more visitors to your quality writing.

PS:  If the examples above no longer apply when you read this article, my apologies.  The authors may have come across this article and modied their sites–good for them!

Richard CummingsHeading Tags and SEO: What You Don’t Know DOES Hurt You

Comments 6

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  4. Steven

    Do you have to do something special to tag your headers or does Google automatically sense them. For example:

    HEADER ONE

    text text text text
    text text text text
    text text text text
    text text text text

    HEADER TWO

    text text text text
    text text text text
    text text text text
    text text text text

    HEADER THREE

    text text text text
    text text text text
    text text text text
    text text text text

    Does this make sense? In other words, does google automatically sense your header if say you change the font size or use bold?

  5. Mohd Saqib

    Very Nice information about tags… Thanks Richard for nice article..

    I enjoyed a few articles on your site… as I couldn’t stop me to read them… lol :P :P

    Thanks

    Saqib

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