When writing for the web, remember that readers will be skimming, not reading every word. On average, your users will read only about 20% of the content on your page.
We’ve talked about online audience behavior at length in the past, and it’s why both Google and Usability.gov encourage you to use headings, or H tags, when writing content.
Short, web-friendly sentences and paragraphs are a great start, but heading tags are essential in organizing content and directing your users where to go while they’re skimming.
In fact, in Google’s SEO Starter Guide, they recommend you think about your content in terms of writing an outline. If you do, the headings you’re writing will begin to make sense.
The above link includes a list of things to do and things not to do; For example, don’t overdo it with headings, don’t use H tags for formatting, and only use them to structure a post.
Basically, use headings as you would in an outline of a paper.
What is a Heading Tag?
A heading tag is a tag element that looks like
<h1></h1> in your HTML or Code editor, or what is labeled as Heading in your Visual or WYSIWYG editor.
A simple but effective way of looking at it is that it’s a marking in the HTML code which basically indicates that this content is more important than the rest of the text.
Using this code indicates to both your web browser and the search engines/other crawlers scanning your site that it’s important text, and conveys this to the user as well.
By definition, the Heading tag is visually displayed in a larger typeface and is typically bolded, depending on your theme’s stylesheets or formatting.
Note: You may have noticed a number in that
<h1></h1> example above.
It turns out you can use numbers 1-6 next to the letter h to indicate the importance level of the tag. They’re actually in descending order, so H1 is the most important, down to H6.
H1-H6: Which H Tags Should You Use?
With six different options in H1–H6, or Heading 1–Heading 6, as WordPress calls them, which one(s) should you use in your blog posts?
First, start with your actual blog post heading: H1 is the most important thing on your page, so in a blog post, that should be the heading of your text.
You can confirm that your title uses an H1 tag by right clicking and choosing “Inspect Element” on Google Chrome. In the Elements tab of the Developer Tools that opens up, you’ll easily be able to determine which H tag your title is wrapped in.
If your theme currently has your website title set up as H1, that’s great for the homepage, but not the case for article pages. On those pages, the article title itself should be the H1.
If it’s not, there’s no reason to panic.
According to Google, multiple H1 tags is not a problem, and in certain cases on the semantic web, there are situations where second H1 tag is contained within a secondary element such as an
The point is to make sure your article title is, ideally, in an H1 tag, while subheadings should be in a header tag with a lower priority, such as
If you have a sub-sub heading below that heading? Use
How Headings Help with RPM
Okay, enough geeking out about which tags to use. You may be wondering why an ad management company like Mediavine is encouraging you to run header tags at all.
First, they help with SEO and user experience, and ads are just the beginning at Mediavine. You’ll always see us touting anything that helps with all aspects of your sites.
Here’s the crazy part, though: Purely from a technical standpoint, using header tags can actually improve your ad placements — and subsequently, revenue — as well.
What we call our in-content logic uses just that — logic — so that it will NOT insert an ad between a heading and a paragraph, making sure to never disrupt the flow of your content.
However, if you’re just using bold text or other incorrectly marked up headings in lists or posts, the script wrapper will insert ads into potentially odd placements.
The last thing we want to do is detract from user experience. If a user is engaged with your content, they’re also going to be engaged with ads, which organically means a higher long-term RPM.
So please, use official HTML heading tags throughout content to organize and get the most out of content. It’s win-win-win for SEO, user experience and earning potential alike.
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