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The Importance of Header Tags For Ranking

 In SEO

SEO tactics evolve often, and many professionals argue that header tags < h tags> are not important anymore. I disagree. Headers provide structure, break up text make it easier for a reader to scan (only 16% of people read an article word for word), provide an opportunity to use keywords and featured snippets. Let’s take a look at why.

Headers Provide Structure

Every article or page needs a structure, this helps people to understand what is on the page and encourages them to engage further with your content. I find it helpful to think about it like the structure of a book. Just as the title of a book introduces the content and gives the reader an idea of what the book is about, Your H1 tag does the same for the content of each page. This is the high-level overview; therefore, you should use only one H1 tag per page. Think of H2 tags like titles of chapters in a book, they introduce the main ideas. Whereas H3, H4, H5 and H6 tags break-up the main ideas into subchapters. If you have multiple main ideas, you can use multiple H2 tags on your page.

Headers Break Up Text

According to Forbes, scan-ability is “the most overlooked factor of content marketing.”  These claims are backed up by the data. 16 % of internet users read an article word-for-word. The other 84% are scanning. The same data says that an article that’s scannable is 58 % more likely to perform better with readers. They will be more likely to stick around to read your content reducing your “bounce rate” an important ranking factor in the Google algorithm. Another benefit of people reading more of your content is that they will share it. This helps with social signals and helps to create back-links that can help your rankings.

Include Keywords in Your Header Tags

It is not the most important factor in the Google algorithm, but they do look at your use of keywords in header tags. Some people take this as an excuse to cram as many keywords into headers as possible, please don’t! remember the golden rule, create your article for users, not search engines. Headlines should read naturally and appeal to your readers, User experience is far more important than forcing keywords.

Good User Experience = Good SEO

Optimize for Featured Snippets

Asking and answering questions is a great way to work in long-tail keywords (think about what people would ask using a voice search), so a question in a header and an answer in the paragraph directly below it helps with featured snippets (so does structured data, but that’s another article). Whether or not Google changes the importance of header tags in their algorithm, they will always contribute to a better user experience, which in turn, improve your rankings.

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