Header tags are a very important aspect of Search engine optimization since header tags convey important sections of a webpage to both users and search engines. If a page has lot of textual content in it, a heading tag clearly defines the content of each individual section, thereby creating a good user experience and also conveying what each section has to offer.
What is a heading tag? If you are not aware, a heading tag is enclosed within the <h1>, </h1> HTML tags and heading tags can span from H1 to H6. Which means you can use multiple heading tags on a webpage to denote important sections. H1 is the most important heading tag with the highest priority while H6 is the least important heading tag with the least priority.
In this article, we have tried to explain some key concepts of using heading tags for SEO and how heading tags contribute to the on-page SEO optimization of a web page. Please note that these are not hard and fast rules, there could be exceptions and it depends from one situation to another. Having said that, if you follow the following concepts religiously, you should see good results.
Using Multiple Heading tags on a webpage?
Can I use multiple heading tags on a webpage? Of course, you can. There is no hard and fast rule that you are limited to using a particular heading tag only once. If you have three headlines on an article and you want to use three H2 tags or three H1 tags or three H5 tags, go ahead. It is not a problem at all.
However, note that it is a good practice to use only one H1 heading tag per page. The main title of the article should be in H1 tag and all other sub-headings can come under H2, H6 tags. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule and overriding this will not necessarily harm the SEO of your website or landing page. However, it is considered a standard practice to use only one H1 tag on a given page and use the main title of the article in the H1 tag.
H1 tag carries more weight and importance from the SEO perspective and it helps to give this heading tag the importance it deserves. Diluting the value of H1 heading tags by using it multiple times on the same page is usually not a good idea.
Sequence of Heading Tags Used on a Web page?
Now, what should be the ideal sequence of using heading tags on a webpage?
There is no “ideal sequence” as such. It is completely upto you to choose which heading tags to use in your article or website’s source code and in most cases, you will be just fine. Search engines do give importance to heading tags but also note that they do not flag pages because the webmaster skipped a particular heading tag and jumped to the next.
Search engines do understand that sometimes the theme or HTML source code of a website is designed by an external designer and the owner of a website may not have control on the internal heading tags used in the article. That is perfectly all right and there is no reason to fret over it. It is possible that your article may have one H1 heading tag, no H2 heading tag and 7 H3 heading tags. That is perfectly normal.
Here is a video where ex-Google engineer explains that the sequence of heading tags and syntax errors are not a problem at all
It is considered a good practice to use Heading tags sequentially. Which means, the main title of the article should be H1, sub headings should be H2 and sub-subheadings should be H3 and so on. Rarely you will want to use all the 6 heading tags on a webpage since 99% of the times, most bloggers and website owners restrict themselves to 3 or maximum 4 heading tags.
Do not Overuse Heading tags for SEO
Search engines do give importance to heading tags but please note that you should not overuse the usage of heading tags on a webpage. Keep it natural and you should be fine.
Do not wrap the entire content of a webpage into H1 or H2 heading tags, that is not a good practice. Do not use 50 different heading tags for styling purposes or use a heading tag in every other line. Heading tags should be used to give some structure to the web page and not necessarily optimizing the page for search engine rankings. Trying too hard to optimize a page for search engines may result in spammy activity, so refrain from over optimization and keep the text as normal as possible. Think – will a user like to read the content on a page where the entire content is wrapped around a heading tag alone?
How many H2 Tags Should You Use?
Typically, the main title of the article is used by the H1 tag. So the next question arises – how many H2 tags someone should use to mark important subheadings on a page?
The simplest answer – as many heading tags that is sufficient to provide a decent structure to the page. If you feel you need to use 10 H2 tags, go ahead use them. If you feel 3 is enough, that is fine. Use your own logic why you want to add a sub heading and evaluate whether it makes sense to add a subheading to provide some structure to the webpage. If not, do not add the heading tag because you think it will provide some sort of SEO benefit.
Only add the heading tag if it helps the user navigate the page and jump to specific sections for finding information about that specific topic.
Do widget Headings Count?
Now there are situations when you would be using a widget in your website’s sidebar or theme and it may be using an H4 or H5 heading tag. You may have design elements in your website’s footer and it may be using a different Heading tag.
Do these heading tags matter for SEO?
The short answer is – they do not matter for seo. Search engines can figure out boilerplate content pretty well. They know which part of the page has the main content and which part of the page has boilerplate content. They can also figure out which sections are using boilerplate heading tags, so widget heading tags or heading tags used in the footer or any other boilerplate section of your website’s theme does no good for SEO.
Only the heading tags used in the main content section of your webpage matters and that is where you should put your maximum attention and effort.
It goes without saying that you should keep the heading tags as natural as possible and avoid keyword stuffing- trying to optimize everything for search engines. Don’t do that, it does not help and may hurt your website’s usability, UX and user behavior. Keep it simple and natural and you should be just fine.