Using H tags on posts to improve blog seo, readability

Do you know that websites are allowed to have 6 levels of heading tags, and that these tags help in improving blog SEO (search engine optimization)?

If you are a new blogger or web content creator who is not familiar with HTML, this post will help you write content in a way that it helps readability as well as SEO by taking an HTML-based action without knowing HTML!

What are HTML tags?

Webpages are written in a language called HTML. A protocol or set of rules associated with this language makes a webpage available to us when we type its URL or link; that is why the URL of websites and their individual webpages starts with HTTP. 

Even when other languages such as PHP and JavaScript are used for various functionalities on a webpage, the HTML makes its basic framework.

HTML is written as a collection of tags. In simple terms, HTML tags tell how the element associated with the tag will render on the browser. For example, <p> tag is for making a paragraph and <b> tag is for making the text bold. Let us see what happens when you write tags on a HTML page:

You write this:  <p>This is a <b>paragraph.</b></p> 

The result you get on a browser is this: This is a paragraph.

In this example, <p> and </p> tags told the browser to make this sentence as a new paragraph. <b> and </b> around the word 'paragraph' made this word bold. 

What are header tags on a webpage?

Certain tags behave like a template because their format  (font style, text size, text color etc) and other attributes are pre-coded in some other section of the webpage/ website. In modern websites, including blogs, a separate file in CSS (a web language) is used for such formatting.

Heading tags (H tags) are one such set of tags and they are used for telling the internet browser that the words or sentences associated with these tags are headings and should be shown in a particular way.  HTML allows 6 levels of H tags, numbered from H1 to H6. As you would have imagined, H1 is the top level.

Why are H tags important?

Basically, H tags are used for styling a paragraph in a particular way. When you use the same tag for all similar headings, they all appear in the same style. For example, all section headings in this blog post are H3 level headings. 

On a blog, you can highlight important expressions by making the text bigger or making it bold, but you will have to do it each time. Headline tags do that job in one click.

The second, and bigger, advantage of using H tags is blog SEO. When you tag an expression as a heading, search engines take it as an important indicator of the subject being discussed. For example, the H3 tag used in this section says, "Why are H tags important". When the web crawler of Google comes to this blog post, it will find that the matter relates to heading tags, and when it finds that there is a sentence that tells why H tags are important and it is tagged as a headline, Google will feel more assured that the blog post is on headline tags. 

Heading tags are important for visually impaired people who use screen readers for browsing websites. Headings made using H tags are read out loud or in a different way to indicate that a new section has started.

How do you put H tags on the blog? 

On Wordpress platform, blog posts are made up of blocks. A block by default is a paragraph. But when you click on it or start writing inside it, a small toolbar opens up with a paragraph or flag sign. If you click on it, a drop-down list appears as shown in the picture below. If you choose Heading, the paragraph changes into a heading and the H tag's level is shown on the tool itself. You can increase or decrease the level of the H tag by changing the level.

seo tags for headings

On Blogger platform, the toolbar remains fixed on top of the post editor. You can change a paragraph into a heading by changing the H level in the drop-down menu. The levels are given as "Major Heading", "Heading" etc.

If you want to manually change the H tag in the HTML of the blog, that too is very simple. Whatever text you want to convert into a heading, you just enclose it within <H> and </H> (opening and closing of the H tag). For example, 

I write this in the HTML of a Blogger post: <H2>blog SEO improves with proper H tagging</H2>

When I see the blog post on my browser, the sentence comes out like this: 


Note that the text appears bold and is CAPITALised, and the space between the heading and lines above and below increases. This is because of inbuilt style-sheet of this blog in which H2 tag has been given this format.

How to choose the right heading level? 

On most blogging platforms and website builders, there is an inbuilt hierarchy of H tags. The title is usually given H1 level, main sub-headings get H2 level and so on. As mentioned above, each H tag is formatted in a particular style. You can, however, manually re-format an individual H tag.

Though heading tags improve blog SEO, they should not be used arbitrarily and too many times. If the post is smaller than 250 words, you should not put more than one or two heading tags. 

SEO experts usually advise not putting more than one H1 tag in a webpage, otherwise search engines penalise the webpage. So, a blog post or article should have only one H1 tag. However, a senior Google search expert has gone on record to say that the number does not matter as long as the heading makes sense.

It is also asked whether more SEO benefits are achieved by putting higher level headings. Google experts say, that is not necessarily so. If something is more important than the other, give the first one a higher level of heading - that's all. 

It is also suggested that you do not skip a level. For example, do not jump to H4 from H2, However, that need not be applied rigidly. 

In big articles or articles with different sections and sub-sections, use them in a structured way, as shown in the graphic below. Again, that is not a rigid format, and you can be flexible.

More than being SEO friendly, H tags should be reader-friendly. Headings should be used for identifying separate sections. Usually, if there are sub-sections within the main section, you should give them a lower heading level. When you highlight too many words or sentences in an article, they not only lose significance, they also tend to irritate. When you use a series of distinct sections (as in the post that you are reading), they can come one after the other but don't make them a lower heading level.

Though HTML accepts 6 levels of H tags, we need not go beyond H4. However, if you like the inbuilt formatting of a lower level, go for that. Similarly, if you don't like inbuilt formatting of a particular heading, you either change the formatting manually or apply some other heading tag. For example, at present H2 tag on Blogger themes makes the text in CAPITALS (see the above example or the image below), which you may not like. If so, you may put other levels of H tags on your blog.

blog seo

How to write SEO friendly article with H tags

Finally, let's discuss what text should be included in the headings on which an H tag has been applied. 

Before coming to SEO, let me repeat what I said earlier: reader comes before search engines. So, headings must serve the purpose of telling the reader about the subject. No compromise on that.

After you have composed the text for the reader, think how you can make it more SEO friendly. For that, think of expressions by which people might be searching that type of content. There are dozens of tools for doing that but I will suggest this simple method to new bloggers and those who do not want to spend too much time on search engine optimization:

Go to Google! Google is the best place to find the target search keywords. You type your heading on Google and look at the suggestions given by Google. To make the things clear, let me give this example:

I wanted to SEO optimize the heading of this section. The section relates to writing SEO friendly headings. I typed this on Google and found the results as given in this screenshot:

seo title examples

Out of the suggestions given by Google, the first one is most related to this section and people are searching with this keyword. However, because this section deals with only one part (headings) of that keyword, I add 'with H tags'. This makes the heading SEO optimised and I am being honest about the fact that the section deals specifically with headings.

If you want to learn more about HTML behind H tags, you can visit this resource: H tags on websites.


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