Heading Structure and Search Engine Optimization
What are Headings?
Web page headings are just like headings in a book:
There are 6 heading tags available in HTML coding. H1 is the largest and at the top of the heading structure hierarchy. H6 is the smallest and at the bottom of the heading structure hierarchy.
Heading tags can be formatted in the stylesheet if the defaults are not suited to the web page.
How Search Engines Read Headings
Search engines find the heading tags in the web page coding. e.g. <h2></h2> would surround a heading 2.
Each search engine has a different way of prioritizing the importance of headings therefore it is important to use the heading tags correctly to create proper heading structure.
If we use the heading structure feature in the Web Accessibility Toolbar we can check that the page has proper heading structure:
As the instructions in the image above state, check that:
- The web page title and headings are present.
- Headings are properly nested. Heading 1 being main title, and the rest flow in correct order.
- The heading structure used is laid out to give an effective overview of the web page subject.
Importance of Proper Heading Structure
From the W3C Accessibility guidelines 1.2.1 Section headings:
...Use header elements to convey document structure and use them according to specification....
Since some users skim through a document by navigating its headings, it is important to use them appropriately to convey document structure. Users should order heading elements properly. For example, in HTML, H2 elements should follow H1 elements, H3 elements should follow H2 elements, etc. Content developers should not "skip" levels (e.g., H1 directly to H3). Do not use headings to create font effects...
If the web page visitor uses a screen reader it will indicate to the visitor when they reach a heading in the text.
In summary, each search engine has a different way of prioritizing the importance of headings therefore it is important to use the heading tags correctly to create proper heading structure.
Search Engine Optimization Articles
- Web Page Content Search Engines See Web page content is all the information between the <body> and </body> tags of the web page. This is the web page content that the visitor and search engines will see.
- Search Engine Optimization - SEO Search engine optimization (SEO) requires more than adding keywords to a web page.