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Importance of Header Tags & Keywords For SEO

importance of header tags for SEO

You know your copy should include header tags and keywords. But do you know why they should include these things? Further, do you know the best practices for implementing these SEO strategies in your copy? You’re about to find out! 

When the goal is to improve your site’s visibility, increase traffic and grow revenue, it’s important to have a comprehensive SEO strategy. You should have a solid SEO strategy that has a blend of off- and on-page tactics. Off-page SEO tactics like link building are still important but no less important than on-page tactics like header tags and properly placed keywords.

Over the years there has been a shift in the importance of quality content that provides structure, relevance, and a great user experience (UX) from turning out lots of content that is not relevant.

While header tags are not going to make or break your ranking they certainly still hold some importance. In years past, it was easy to manipulate tags. But today, search engines are smarter than ever. They have evolved and now new tags and new ways of organizing data have entered the arena. 

Whether you are using meta tags with title and description attributes or other tags to classify and organize content, one thing is for sure: each tag has a purpose.

Let’s dive into the role of each tag and evaluate its importance in SEO.

What Are Header Tags? How To Use Keywords To Get On The Top Of Google

Using Header Tags for Structure

To start, let’s talk about using header tags for structuring your content. After all, that is their primary purpose! Headers tags not only provide structure but also context for your content. As such, each header should provide the reader with an idea of the information they will get from the section that follows.

A great example is to think of header tags as the table of contents in a book:

  • H1 introduces the topic your page is about – similar to that of a title.
  • H2 are meant to be like book chapters, describing the main topics in sections of the article.
  • H3s to H6s serve as additional subheadings within each section, like how a book chapter might be split up by multiple sub-topics.

Include Keywords in Your Header Tags

Google looks at headers to gather context for your page. Headers themselves do not have a large impact on SEO however, including keywords can help your ranking. This means you should adjust your headers to have keywords but you should not be cramming them in where they do not fit. In short? Be judicious and not spammy.

Always re-read your page and make sure your headers are readable and naturally include keywords. The keywords that are used should be relevant to what the content is about. If you are using inappropriate keywords you do run the chance of Google not featuring your Header Tag that you create. It is important to make sure you are writing for the targeted audience.

There is one place that header tags do make a positive impact on SEO: featured snippets.

  • The first is to optimize your header tag for long-tail voice search keywords, and then answer directly below using text within <p> paragraph tags. Using long-tail keywords will make the snippet sound more customer-focused and more likely to deliver positive results. 
  • The second is to use subsequent, smaller headings to outline different list items. Google uses these headers to create its own bulleted and numbered list featuring snippet results.

What is a Title Tag?

Title tags belong to the <head> section that identifies the title of a webpage. It is normally a clickable headline in the search engine results page (SERP) and shows up on social media networks.

Title tags should provide a clean and comprehensive idea of what the page’s content contains. Well-written titles that are optimized with keywords often rank higher than weaker titles. A well-written title may increase the number of clicks and traffic to your site as it is the first thing a searcher sees on a SERP.

Having an optimized title is not a cure-all, but it is a crucial piece of a puzzle that will prove your page is relevant and worthy of ranking.

Following best SEO practices:

  • Each page should have a unique title that describes the page’s content concisely and accurately.
  • Keep the titles up to 50-60 characters long (for them not to get shortened in the SERPs).
  • Put important keywords first, but in a natural manner, as if you write titles for your visitors in the first place.
  • Use your brand name in titles.

Meta Description Tags

Meta descriptions are also placed in the text of the <head>. They consist of a small paragraph that’s commonly displayed in a SERP.

As for the purpose of a meta description? It’s meant to reflect the point of a page. The importance of meta description tags is tied together with title tags since it impacts the interactions of searchers to sites.

Surely, no description can perfectly match absolutely all queries you may rank for. Your meta description can technically be any length. That being said, Google recommends around 160 characters in the SERPs. Make note that the snippet Google uses for your site might not be the meta description you’ve written and depends on the query.

Following best SEO practices, you should:

  • Give each page a unique meta description that clearly reflects what’s on the page.
  • Google’s snippets typically max out around 150-160 characters (including spaces).
  • Include your most significant keywords, but don’t over stuff them. Write for your audience—make it easy to read.

Breaking Down Header Tags 

Heading tags are HTML tags that are used to identify headings and subheadings within your content from other types of text. The hierarchy goes from H1- H6, with H1 being the most “important” tag.

The usage of heading tags is highly debated and you’ll find varying thoughts on the topic. But almost always, H2-H6 aren’t considered as important for SEO as H1 tags.

H1 tags

[Image Source: Neil Patel]

Proper usage of H1 tags has been studied throughout the industry, noting that clumsy usage of H1s can keep sites from ranking and traffic improvement.

Now that you know H1 tags are considered most important, you might be tempted to use them throughout your copy. The thing is, however, they should only be used once per page. 

Here’s what Neil Patel has to say about why you should only use one H1 header tag per page:

“If one is good, wouldn’t two or sixteen be even better?

Search engines will crawl multiple H1s on a page, sure, but the logical priority of an H1 semantic tag means that you’re focusing your SEO efforts on one keyword phrase or sentence, as opposed to many.

The presence of more than one H1 won’t necessarily confuse the search engine, but it could dilute the SEO power of a single H1.

Google may also consider your page over-optimized if you use more than one H1, and may penalize you as a result.

Utilizing the heading tags will add to the layout of the content. It will be easier for search engines to crawl if the content is well-organized structurally. For users, it will divide the content so it is easier to digest and navigate.”

Additionally, it’s best to keep your H1 tags between 20 and 70 characters with strong, compelling words (as well as your primary keyword).

H2 tags

[Image Source]

After H1 tags come H2 tags in the header tags hierarchy. These are the second biggest and second most important so it’s worth exploring them in a bit more detail.

Remember to think of H2 tags as chapters of a book. The H1 tag might be the title, and each subsequent chapter can be labeled with an H2 tag. Most people follow title case capitalization for H2s (capitalizing every major word but not capitalizing minor words) although this isn’t a hard and fast rule. That means you can go ahead and pick a style and stick with it! 

H3 tags

Now, if H2 tags function as your chapter markers, think of using H3 tags to signify further topics within that chapter. They’re often used to format lists or even as bullet points. 

It’s most common to use sentence case capitalization for H3 tags. This means only capitalizing the first word. But again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule so it’s up to you which style you follow.

H4-H6 header tags

You don’t see H4, H5, or H6 tags nearly as often as you see H1, 2, and 3 tags. 

As HubSpot explains about H4 tags, “These are subsections that clarify the points made in the H3 further. Alternatively, they can be used in formatting lists or bullet points.” 

H5 and H6 headers aren’t used often. If you do use them, they must be properly “nested.” 

Why is nesting header tags important? Consider this:

“To facilitate navigation and understanding of the overall page structure, authors should use headings that are properly nested. Example: h1 followed by h2, h2 followed by h2 or h3, h3 followed by h3 or h4, and so on. Heading elements that are properly nested help users of assistive technologies understand the structure of the information on the web page more easily.”

Best SEO Practices for Header Tags

Small details will make big SEO and user-friendly differences. The following are the best SEO practices:

  • Give each page a unique H1 reflecting the topic the page covers, using your primary keywords in it.
  • Use H2-H6 tags where appropriate (normally, there’s no need to go further than H3), using secondary keywords relevant to each paragraph.
  • Don’t overuse the tags and keywords in them. Keep it readable.

Conclusion

Continually tweaking your on-page SEO helps increase your ranking when done properly and with the searcher in mind. Don’t neglect small tweaks that can add up to big impacts.

There are vital tags that make up the taxonomy of the page and others that aren’t vital. However, when done correctly you can end up with a stellar snippet that will put you ahead of competitors. You should be striving to include keywords in all your header tags, but placed them naturally.

Making small changes with a big impact on the UX will help search engine crawlers understand your site and readers will appreciate the layout. Making your page user-friendly will definitely pay off in the long term.

Do you want to learn more about implementing the most effective SEO strategy for your business? We should talk. All good SEO starts with a solid understanding of what a customer wants, their pain points, and what will answer their query. So, our team works with you and your team to determine the keywords and positioning that will help your business boost rankings and revenue.

And you can always expect an individualized approach when you work with us. After all, we don’t want to assume anything when building a search engine optimization campaign. We look at the pages of your website that are currently rankings and which ones are not. We can then create a full campaign that increases your search positioning for your business.

Ready to get started? 

Click here to learn more about Blue Water Marketing’s SEO services.

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Chris Marrano

Chris Marrano

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