Are you a marketer, executive, or CEO and are looking to understand on-site search engine optimization (SEO)?
Better yet, do you want to see how your current website measures up, or do you have an upcoming website project you’re getting ready for?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve come to the right place.
This article is Part 2 of our SEO Series, where we’re breaking down SEO into smaller parts so that you can understand it better, and maximize your on-site SEO results.
[To access Part 1 – How to Check Your Title Tags, click here.]
In this article, we’ll look at page headings, what they are, and why they’re important in SEO. And of course, we’ll also show you how to check your site’s headings, with tips on getting the most out of them.
What are h1 headings?
Page headings are used to communicate to search engines what the main content areas of a webpage are, and what the page is about.
Headings are often visually displayed differently in web browsers, with larger font sizing on a separate line. This allows site visitors to see the difference between text in a heading, and regular content.
H1 headings refer specifically to the most important heading level. Typically, the main heading of a page will use h1. Consequent subheadings under the h1 would be denoted by h2 through h6.
For example, a client of tbk Creative’s, Jiffy Lube Ontario, in the screenshot below has “Oil Changes in Guelph” as an h1.
Why are headings important?
H1 headings are a key signal that search engines look at in determining what a webpage is about. H2 headings have an impact too, to a lesser degree, and h3 – h6 headings even less so.
If you’re not using h1 tags on your website, or if you aren’t using them correctly, you’ll be making it more difficult for search engines to understand the main content of your pages. This can unnecessarily limit your presence in organic search results, your web traffic, and consequently leads and sales.
Here are five tips to properly use heading tags:
- Each page’s main keywords should be used as h1 headings, and secondary keywords should be used as h2 headings (if applicable).
- Keep the length of your headings to a reasonable length. Somewhere between 20 and 60 characters is acceptable, as long as you aren’t stuffing keywords into the headings.
- Avoid using h1 or h2 headings for your company name, slogan, tagline, or other non-keyword marketing text. These items can be part of the website, but I don’t recommend you use as h1 or h2 headings. Instead, use the opportunity of h1 and h2 headings to include keywords you want to rank better for on major search engines.
- Each page should only have one h1 heading.
- The need for h2 headings will vary by page. For example, an FAQ page might have “Frequently Asked Questions” as an h1 heading, and each question on that page would be an h2 heading (the answers to those questions would just be paragraph text). On the other hand, a Contact Us page might only have “Contact Us” as an h1 heading, with no further subheadings required. Use h2 – h6 subheadings as appropriate for the amount of varied content on the page.
How can I check my pages’ h1 heading tags?
Checking the headings of your webpages is easy, and can be done from within your web browser. Here are the steps to follow:
- Once you’re on the webpage you’re interested in, press and hold the ‘CTRL’ button, then press the ‘U’ key. If you’re on a Mac, press and hold the ‘Command’ and ‘Option’ buttons, then press the ‘U’ key.
- To quickly find the area of HTML that pertains to a heading tag, you may press and hold the ‘CTRL’ button, and then press the ‘F’ key. If you’re on a Mac, press and hold the ‘Command’ button, then press the ‘F’ key. Search for “<h1” for h1 headings. For h2 headings, search for “<h2”.
- Look for the text that’s between the “<h1…” and “…/h1>” tags. This text is an h1 heading for the page. The same would apply for other heading tiers (h2 – h6).
See below the HTML portion of the same Jiffy Lube webpage screenshot above.
Headings, particularly h1 headings, are a key part to good on-site SEO optimization. Search engines look for h1 headings to help them understand the nature of your webpages, and to rank them for key terms.
Follow the steps above to check your website’s headings, and see whether your pages are using headings in the right way.
Stay tuned for more articles in our SEO Series, where we’ll cover other on-site SEO factors, including:
- Creating a keyword plan for your website
- Understanding and creating meta descriptions
- Optimizing your URL structure
- And more!
You may also access Part 1 of our SEO Series – How to Check Your Title Tags.