Understanding WordPress heading tags and how to use them correctly makes a huge difference in content quality. In this article, I will take a closer look at this important formatting element. There are six different headings to utilize within content: H-1, H-2, H-3, H-4, H-5, H-6.
Why is this important? Well, for one, wrapping text in heading tags allows you to style them differently than the rest of the content. Using heading tags within your site’s content gives structure to your page. They break up text into subsections and make content more digestible. However, many of your visitors are satisfied just skimming your content and only reading those parts that actually interest them.
By dividing your content into sections and giving each of them a title that makes sense, you enable them to do just that. Therefore, headings should be used in a way that after reading only through the headlines of your article, readers should have a good sense of what the piece is about.
Heading Tags Provide SEO Value
Readers aren’t the only ones that benefit from headings. Search engines also scan your site for headings. Using H1-H6 tags shows them how different blocks of content are connected and stand in relation to one another. That’s also the reason why headings are usually configured to get consecutively smaller with higher numbers.
Apart from that, Google and Co. will try to use the content of your headings to understand the topic of your writing better. That’s why SEO plugins such as WordPress SEO by Yoast routinely check whether your keyword or phrase appears inside heading tags. The reason is simple: Search engines want you to create content that is pleasant to consume for the visitor they are sending your way. When you provide a scannable and logical structure, Google and their competitors will reward you for it.
Do’s Of Using Headings In WordPress
- Do use only one H1 tag per page – The H1 tag is one of the central pieces of information for search engines to determine the topic of your content. Therefore, it should usually be the title of your post or page (your homepage might be an exception). Most good themes are configured to wrap apply H1 tags here automatically. Check whether or not your theme does this correctly and if not make necessary changes (preferably in the form of a child theme). If you absolutely have to include another H1, consider paginating your article.
- Do adhere to a logical heading structure – There is a reason for the heading tag order. The numbers denote when a section is subordinated to another one. Consequently, since H1 is our title, H2 tags are used to mark off subsections inside the article, H3 tags are used for sub-subsections, and so on. Take advantage of this and avoid skipping (such as going from H1 to H3).
- Do include keywords inside your headings – As I said, the content inside heading tags is an important source of information for search engines. Therefore, make sure to include your main and related keywords here and there. While this does not carry as much weight as it used to, it is an SEO opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.
Don’ts Of Using Headings In WordPress
- Don’t use headings for styling – Headings give structure to your articles, they are not there to make parts of your content stand out! If you want to underscore central ideas or passages, us bold (Ctrl+B), italics (Ctrl+I), blockquote (Alt+Shit+Q) or add additional styles to the editor. Just don’t use headings!
- Don’t apply them to entire paragraphs – In the same vein, don’t make headings out of several lines of text. The heading tag is reserved for headlines that introduce different sections. Go for single sentences, no more than that.
- Don’t stuff keywords – While I said earlier that you should indeed use keywords, don’t go overboard and crowbar them into every single heading in your content. Think of your readers understanding and pleasure first, then of search engines.
- Don’t go deeper than H3 – For SEO sake, it doesn’t make much sense to use any headings past number 3. Ok, an occasional H4 can make sense for your human readers in some cases. However, you can completely forget about H5-H6. It has no value to search engines and you should be fine creating content without them.