Headers are important to your web pages. In fact, they’re vital. They serve your readers and search engines, meaning they’re significant to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This post tells you why they matter and how to use them.
What are headers?
Before you can learn how to use headers, you need to know what they are. Headers are the titles on your web pages. They range from header 1 (H1) to header 6 (H6). Invisible pieces of HTML called heading tags are attached to text in order for it to appear as a heading.
Header tags: <h1>look at my tags</h1>
H1: This is the main heading and serves as the title of your web page. Every page on your site needs an H1.
H2: This is the subheading. H2’s are used throughout the page to identify each subtopic to the reader, and break up the content into chunks.
H3 – H6: These are all subheadings as well. Unless there’s a lot of text to break down into subsections of subtopics, generally all you need is H1, H2 and maybe H3.
What makes headers important to readers and search engines?
Both readers and search engines scan headings to identify what is covered by the content of a page. This allows readers to determine if the page has the information they want, and tells search engines what the page is about.
When search engines can identify the topic of your web pages, they know which search queries to rank your pages for. If you’re following good practice, you’ll have one topic per page of your site – ie. not multiple topics on one page. It follows that as you write your headers throughout a page, you’ll naturally use your keywords within them. (What are keywords?)
People don’t often read an article in full online. Instead, they scan the page. If your H1 (in most cases your page heading) interests them, they’ll move on to the subheadings. From there they will read the paragraph text between headings for more information.
Your goal is to make reading the content easy. Headers give structure to a web page by breaking it up into small chunks of text, which is much easier to read off a screen. If it’s hard for the reader to find what they’re looking for, they’ll try another site.
Headers play an important role for people who use screen readers. Because they are in HTML, screen readers can understand the structure of the content and read the headings out loud. This allows the user to determine if they’ve found what they want.
Headers are also used to navigate through the content, as screen readers offer shortcuts to jump from heading to heading.
How to use headers as a framework for your content
Headers work in a hierarchy, with H1 indicating most importance, through to H6 indicating least importance. Your heading structure must follow this hierarchy.
Here’s what I mean:
In this post, the title “The Importance Of Headers In Your Content” is the H1. Then you can see there are larger subtitles and smaller ones, eg. “What makes headers important to readers and search engines?” and “Topic identification”. The bigger subtitles are H2s, and the smaller are H3s.
Use your headers to accurately reflect the content of your page so people understand what they are going to find. Think of them as the framework of your content. Webstruxure can help with planning a content strategy and content creation, just reach out if you’d like our help.
Webstruxure is here to make the web work smarter. Let us know how we can help you for user friendly, mobile friendly and search engine friendly websites. Our services include:
Briaane currently works for Webstruxure as a website coordinator in Wellington. Between plugging away at Search Engine Optimisation and content creation, Briaane can be found curled up with a coffee and a Sci Fi book, or broadening her skills and talents. You can connect with her and see samples of her writing on LinkedIn.
Also published on Medium.