What is a Heading Tag and Why is it Important?

Dec 19, 2013 | SEO, Web Development

HTML key on keyboard

Headings on your website often speak the loudest to your readers, but they also speak loudly to search engines. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss what a HTML heading tag is and how to use it properly—yielding both readability and search engine optimization (SEO).

What is a Heading Tag?

First, let’s start with what Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is. HTML is a language based on tags that represent information about what is being displayed to the browser. For example, the <h1> tag, read as the heading 1 tag, tells the browser that the content within the <h1> tag is a heading. Headings are used to title specific pieces of content on the page. Case in point, the heading on this page is “What is a Heading Tag and Why is it Important?”

Using Heading Tags for Readability and SEO

Heading tags have a hierarchy of six different weights of importance in relation to search engines. The most important heading tag is the <h1>. Visually, this tag will be the biggest on the page, and is often followed by sub-headers. To maintain the hierarchal approach to this system, headings should follow down the hierarchy in order. So, a heading that follows a <h1> tag should be a <h2> tag, and the heading following a <h2> tag should be a <h3> or another <h2> tag. This progression continues through all six heading tags if needed. This helps to structure an outline of topics on a page and increases the readability for your viewers.

Using heading tags properly promotes readability for your viewers and enhances your SEO. For example, if you were writing an article about how to take good pictures, you might have a <h1> tag of “Key Factors in Taking Great Photos” and <h2> subheadings of “Lighting is Everything,” “Composition Captures the Scene,” and “Attention to the Technical Aspects.” Displaying content to your viewers through the use of relevant heading and sub-heading tags is a great way to clearly communicate your content to search engines.

The Importance of Heading Tags

Remember that heading tags do speak the loudest, out of all of your content, to both your readers and search engines. Taking the time to accurately express the content on the page through good headings can bring more viewers to your website, promote readability, and increase your search engine rankings. Consider going through your website to evaluate the relevance of your headings, and take more time in the future to get the most out of your heading tags.

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