Phil Ringguth
Phil Ringguth 4 July 2016

What Are Heading Tags And Why Do They Help You Rank In Google?

So you’ve written a great piece of content and are ready to publish it on your site, but there may be something you’re missing. Something that will help break-up the content on the page and help Google read it. Have you included heading tags to your content?

This article will outline what heading tags are and how using SEO optimised headings can help you rank higher in Google.

H2: What are Heading Tags?

Heading tags are indicators used in HTML to help structure your webpage from an SEO point of view, as well as helping Google to read your piece of content.  Heading tags range from H1-H6 and form a hierarchical structure to your page. Heading tag 1 is the most important header in Google’s eyes and forms the title of the page. Identifying the title with an H1 tag will help Google quickly know what the content is about.

H3: What’s the Difference Between a Heading 1 and Page Title Tags?

A question that we get asked a lot and can be confusing for many is “What is the difference between a Heading 1 and Page Title?” In HTML terms, a Title Tag is expressed as <title> and the H1 Tag is expressed as <h1>. Both serve as titles to describe what your webpage is about.

The main difference between the page title tag and the H1 tag is where they appear.  The page title tag is used to the purpose of the search engines and act as the hyperlink that people click on to view your page.  Page Title’s also appear in the title bar at the top of the web browser when you are reading the content. The title tags are NOT present on the actual webpage.
The page title for the page above is “Essential Guide: Understanding Your Cat’s Food Diet | Vet Know-how". An H1 tag is what readers will see on the page. It is often in larger text (but not always) and acts as a title for the page. H1 Tags usually DO NOT appear in the Google results page.

The Heading 1 for the same page above is “The Essential Guide To Cat Food Diets: What You Need To Know? As you can see this is different to the page title of the page.

H2: When should I use Heading Tags?

As mentioned above the Heading 1 tag or H1 should be used to identify the title of your page and should be present at the top of your HTML code. Using this structure of H1-H2-H3-H4, will form a hierarchical structure to your content and help your readers navigate through the page. It is important that this structure is not broken and heading tags are not missed out, as this will confuse Google and make the content unstructured.  For example, skipping from H2-H4 then back to H3.

Nowadays the main heading tags that are used for most pieces of content or webpages are headings 1-4. Headings 5 and 6 are only really used if you have a very long piece of content that you need splitting into many different sections, like an in-depth essential guide or whitepaper.

H2: Writing SEO driven Heading Tags

When deciding what you should write as your headings, you need to think about what your content is about and what are the main points throughout the page? Once you know what the main themes of your web page are you can carry out keyword research to identify what are the key terms that people are searching for in Google for phrases relating to your content topic.  Once you have chosen the keywords you want your content to be focused around, it is important to have these phases within the H1 tag, as this is the most important tag that Google will look at.  For example, the keyword we focused the content around in the example above was  “Cat Food Diets”, therefore the H1 title we wrote was “The Essential Guide To Cat Food Diets” When Google reads this title it will instantly know the content is about cat food diets.

You need to continue this approach without the rest of the heading titles you want to include within the page. It is important that you do not repeatedly use the same keyword over again in all the headings as this may be seen as over optimisation in Google’s eyes. Try to use similar terms and phrases that mean the same thing like, pet. cat, feline or food, diet, feed. As mentioned above Google puts the most emphasis on the <h1> tag and less importance on the rest of the indicators, so you don’t need to worry too much about how optimised these are.

For further information on content optimisation and keyword research, you can read the following SEO checklist.

Wow – so that’s quite a lot to take in for the time being so we are going to leave it there for this blog. The're are many more bits to cover such as why we need to optimise Heading tags and how we then add these tags to your website. If you’d like to read on, please take a look at What is an H1 part two.

Original Article

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