Headings and Search Engine Optimization
The main heading is the most important element on the page. That generally goes for both search engines and your visitors. Usually, you have a short time to grab the visitor’s attention, a really short time. The main heading has the capacity to fill that function. By having a main heading that catches the visitor’s attention, and that clearly states what can be found on the page, you will get a much better landing page. This is almost always true, both when it comes to conversion and search engine optimization.
The ‘right’ way to indicate that a piece of text is a main heading, according to web standards as well as to search engines, is to use the H1-tag.
<h1>This is a main heading</h1>
The heading can have different looks, for example with the help of CSS, but we will not go into that since it belongs to the areas of development or design, rather than search engine optimization. The important thing that you should know is that it can basically look like anything and still be considered a main heading.
From a search engine perspective, however, the main heading does need to be placed at the top of the page in a big font. Most search engines today have the capacity to read the visuals of a page. A small hidden H1, previously used quite frequently, is much less functional today than it used to be. Just as the title, your H1 needs to contain the words you want to be visible on in search results and you also need to take the visitor into consideration. An H1 on a landing page has actually no real limitation length-wise but making it unreasonably long will be weird. Think of a headline in a newspaper or the title of an academic paper.
Creating the right headings is more than just search engine optimization. You need to consider the visitor and what he/she is looking for. By clearly stating that you can buy butter on this page, and not only read about the history of butter, you will improve sales, in most cases. The heading needs to live up to the visitor’s expectations. If your search result claims that you sell butter, but the heading says otherwise, it will cause unnecessary confusion.
Create a selling heading and make sure to include the keywords you want to be visible on. If you have tens of thousands of product pages, all in need of a heading, you often need to use some kind of automation. The most obvious choice is to use the product name as a heading. Finding an alternative is usually quite hard. It is possible to use words such as ‘cheap’, ‘on the internet’ or ‘online’, but in most cases I would prioritize the visitor. Don’t write ‘spammy’ headings. If you manage to automatically write a heading that looks great and contains all your keywords, that’s good, but don’t overdo it.
In HTML, there is room for a number of headings other than H1. These are called H2, H3 and so on, all the way down to H6. Each step is a heading level, just as in a word document or in an essay. Beneath H1, it is therefore possible to separate the text into a number of H2, and beneath every H2 you can add any number of H3. This can be repeated all the way down to the level of H6, if you have a huge document with lots of different sections.
This is how you write headings using HTML:
<h2> The H2 heading</h2>
<h3>The H3 heading </h3>
Google assesses the subheadings similarly to how they assess the main heading. Therefore, there is good reason to use the keyword in these as well. It might look a bit weird to stuff all subheadings with the same keyword, so be open to using synonyms and different forms.
A page with the phrase ‘Cheap Cars’ as its main keyword might have the following headings:
H1: Find cheap cars here, always the best price
H2: What to think about when buying a cheap car
H3: Don’t buy too cheap
H3: Don’t choose the first car you see
H3: Make sure to choose inspected cars
H2: Why should you choose us when you buy a car
H3: We have warranties on cheap cars as well
H3: You will get a set of winter tyres for free with the car
It is important to keep in mind that the subheadings should strengthen the main heading, that they should add more information, adding more knowledge to complement the heading above. By being clear when you are writing your headings, something which requires some thought, it is possible to build content that looks more detailed to a search engine. Building detailed content is very important. The more useful information you can add to your pages, the better.
Consider how the headings are structured in this book. Sure, it is printed rather than published online, but the same principles apply. The difference might be that you don’t find the keyword in the subheadings as important as Google does.
How would you improve this text?
Could that be applied to your own texts?
Is it possible to structure product descriptions in the same way?