Why headings are important
Do a simple web search on how to increase traffic to your website, and you’ll find that writing compelling headings for your content is one of the easiest and most important things you can do. You’ve seen them, headings are those brief, seemingly incidental phrases that appear on the line above a website’s paragraph content. But headings are powerful creations that provide an opportunity to dangle the carrot that entices your audience to go to your site.
Headings do a lot of good in our online world, including catching readers’ attention, organizing information, and most important, telling search engines which information they should include on a search engine results page (SERP). For example, type “airbrush tattoos” and you’ll be directed to this SERP:
Let’s face it, humans are impatient creatures. We want to search a phrase that quickly lands us with exact matches. And effective headings can help potential clients find your site in a single search.
Don’t think relying solely on good content will make up for not including headings. Content may be king, but headings run the show. Headings are critical for your website’s organization and for getting search engines to boost your online presence. Headings provide a map for your readers to find your content. Here’s how they do that:
How websites organize headings
You want to make sure clients find what they’re looking for, and headings are a great organizational tool for doing that. But not all headings are created equal. There are six different headings, referred to as H1, H2, and H3, etc., and writers often use several in a single article. These are called heading tags and they follow a hierarchy that organizes your material from general to specific, or most important to least important.
Headings are different sizes, with the most important information associated with the largest heading tag, the next most important (subheading) associated with the next largest heading tag, etc. Available in the formatting bar’s drop-down menu, headings look like this:
You’ll want to use heading 1 for your article’s title and heading 2 as a subheading for information that relates to heading 1. Likewise, use heading 3 as a subheading for information relating to heading 2.
How search engines organize headings
Besides helping writers and readers, headings organize information for search engines—a crucial aspect to landing on a SERP. Depending on which heading tag you use, search engines will rank its importance compared with your other heading tags. But you’ll want to make sure to include keywords that reflect your article’s topic.
For example, this article’s H1 “How headings impact SEO and how to write them” includes the keywords “headings” and “SEO.” People who want to learn about this topic will likely use these keywords to search for articles, so this article is likely to show up on the SERP.
Of lesser importance are the H2 and H3 headings, respectively seen in this article as “Why headings are important” and “How websites organize headings.” These headings investigate specific details about the H1 topic, and because they are not as highly ranked as H1, are not considered as important to a search engine.
But make sure you don’t fill your articles with a bunch of H1s, because search engines won’t be able to determine which H1 has the important keywords, and this can lower your SERP ranking.
How Do Headings Impact SEO?
It’s important to include keywords in your H1 to increase your web traffic. Don’t make the mistake of bolding your paragraph formatting to make it look like a heading. This will do nothing to enhance your presence in a web search, because search engines read headings like this:
This is how headings look in html. The code flanking each heading tells search engines how to categorize your information. But, no worries. You don’t have to add that funky looking code. Heading tags are automatically coded when you choose one. And that’s why it’s a good idea to use them. Because if not categorized into headings, your web information all looks the same to the search engines, and if it’s formatted as paragraph material, <p> paragraph </p>, search engines will recognize it as low importance and ignore it.
But this is easily avoided if you not only include headings on your webpage but also learn how to write effective headings that search engines will notice.
How to Write Effective Headings
Writing effective headings isn’t difficult once you understand what to include in order to get noticed by search engines:
Use relevant keywords in your headings
People search sites using words that relate to their needs. Let’s say you’re on vacation and your tennis instructor, Sven, has worked you too hard on your backhand. As you lie in pain the following morning, you begin searching “elbow/shoulder pain chiropractor near me.” BOOM! A slew of chiropractic articles pops up. And as you scroll, you see articles mentioning “elbow” and “shoulder” in the titles. See a pattern? These are some keywords that chiropractors use to drive traffic to their website.
To determine your website’s keywords, think about why people search your website. What do you offer? Then write articles using those keywords in your headlines. Using the most relevant keywords will increase your website’s SEO. If you’re not sure which keywords to include, perform a keyword search of your industry, looking for websites that offer similar services with the highest SERP placement, then investigate which words work for them. You can also search “find my keywords” to help you find effective words to drive traffic to your site.
Also, make sure the heading’s keywords relate to both your article’s title and its content. Moreover, your H2s and H3s should also reflect your H1 heading. For example, because “headings” is one of this article’s keywords, it appears in all headings.
Don’t force your headings’ keywords to work overtime
Don’t include keywords just to include more keywords, thinking it will render better search results. This applies to your paragraph content as well. Search engines can spot insincerity, and gratuitous words will lower your rankings on a SERP. But you absolutely should mention your keywords as much as possible in your headings and paragraph content. Just don’t force it. Find ways to incorporate them organically.
Be a marketing Titan:
✓ Search “keyword search” to learn how to find the best keywords for your website
✓ Use keywords to write your H1s
✓ Use those keywords in your H2s and H3s
✓ Use keywords organically in your headings and content
✓ If you’re not sure you’re optimizing your keywords to their full potential, contact Titan Publishing for a complimentary expert analysis
Maureen is a happy mom, wife, and owner of a very fat cat. A tortured creative and passionate writer, Maureen has over 15 years’ experience in Communications. When she’s not doing something creative, Maureen’s busy wondering why she’s not doing something creative.