Establishing brand recognition and authority is a constant and ever-changing battle online. Equipped with search engine optimization techniques, businesses who turn to a link building company or any digital marketing company offering offsite SEO services such as guest blogging services, backlink building services or onsite SEO services, in general, are in for an unpredictable ride when it comes to algorithm updates of search engines.
It is important for your website to always be prepared for the wave of changes that might influence your overall ranking on search engine results pages. Creating content that is of high quality will always be a sure-fire way to rank, as your content is what the users are generally after. This is not only the case when writing for your own website’s blog but it is also the case in guest blogging and backlink building, as the content has to be just as attractive and organized to readers.
Aside from this, efforts to keep your site as relevant and as up-to-date as possible also counts. Actions such as regular posts, checking for site responsiveness and design, and maintaining quality backlinks (either natural or earned through strategies employed by your chosen link building company) all have crucial SEO-impact.
While it is a common tactic to focus on the bigger, rank-influencing attributes, take note that search engines also evaluate your ranking based on your site’s overall components, we know this as a link building company that continuously follows Google’s updates and changing algorithms. Search engine bots make use of micro-details (e.g. site metadata, title tags), as much as they crawl on the macro site components, as signals to gauge whether you deserve a top spot in the SERPs. Clearly, no effort is too small, when it comes to SEO.
Headers and SEO
Headings, also known as header tags, are among these overlooked yet useful microcomponents that also influence your site’s ranking. These HTML codes placed by your developers can also be used to optimize your site and improve your chances at being among the top results listed whenever users type keywords on search engines.
In terms of classification, the use of headers for search engine optimization falls under on-site SEO or on-page SEO techniques. SEO companies use these header tags for their clients, along with other non-keyword related elements (such as title tags, page metadata, URL structure) to signal web crawlers of search engines that the pages of your site should be part of the results that turn up for a certain keyword search.
How to Use Your Site’s Headings
Having established that headings still serve a purpose when it comes to your SEO-related objectives, the next question to be posed is how to use them. Naturally, you would want the most strategic use of these HTML elements, such that your time spent tweaking them would be to your site’s ranking advantage.
Here are some of the most noted SEO best practices that we will offer you – as a link building company offering on-site and off-site SEO resources – when it comes to the use of headings on your site:
As an organizing tool.
Your header tags can be used to organize your page or your site’s content. By providing logical headings, you basically tell your site’s visitors what information they are deriving from your post. These header tags act as an outline that break down your content in a visual manner. They relay to the users, through the largest and most visible H1 tag, the main idea (expressly summed up in a title) covered by your content. While the sub-headings (H2, H2, H3, and so forth), enumerate the other related information available.
The importance of using headings to organize your content lies on its function. First, an organized on-site content helps to guide your site visitors as they move forward in their reading. It helps keep their expectations in check because they can see what is coming next.
In relation to this, these headers also function as useful signposts, in case the reader gets too absorbed in your content and needs to backtrack. In essence, you are directing your users to the information available to them (as opposed to letting them idly run by a thousand words of content) as they browse your site back and forth. In SEO standards, this guidance counts as a plus point for enhanced user experience.
On a similar note, by using headings in this organized manner, you are also catering to the user population that skims and scans, instead of reading in full length. In the era of fast-paced everything and information literally in one’s fingertips, it is not surprising how many versions of scanning patterns are noted amongst web readers. Where searches are done in a mobile device, chances are, your audience is looking for a quick means to access their needed data. The faster they can get this information from your site (i.e. through scanning it), the more useful your content proves to be. Going back to the premise of putting users’ intent and needs first, search engines reward this behavior with a spot among its ranks.
As a Strategic Keyword Location.
Exceptional keyword use and placement are among the ranking factors that distinguish the sites that populate page one of the SERPs, versus those who barely make it to the cut. While headings are not exactly the first things that come to mind when it comes to keyword placement, they are actually a good and strategic location for a number of reasons.
For one, search engines call for a natural use of keywords to reach their goal of providing the ultimate user experience (UX). To do otherwise often results in a demotion in rank or worse, a penalty. As headers (especially H1 tags) are meant to guide users about their site’s content, it is but logical and natural to put a keyword or two in these headings’ phrases. As long as the keywords do not appear obviously spammy (e.g. repetitive and unrelated) placing some of your keywords in your site’s headings will add to a good UX.
Secondly, placing keywords in your headings gives your content an edge in terms of getting featured as snippets in the search results pages. Introduced by Google in 2014, the featured snippet portion of their search engine results pages can feature more than one qualified page or site, in response to a user’s query. Being one of the widely-used search engines, Google’s method of featuring a page snippet on top of its search results is one controversial yet effective traffic-driving move. With a chance of getting a separate, not to mention topmost, listing (among other regular search results), featured snippets have racked the nerves of SEO enthusiasts for ways to make it to this box, and become an instant standout. With online searches coming from either a group of mobile users or the voice-search dependent ones, Google raises the bar with yet another challenge for website optimizers, through its descriptive box of featured snippets. Fortunately, your headings can help you make it to the topmost box of Google’s SERPs. All you have to do is to optimize your site for voice search by adding long-tail keywords to your header tags and supplying information (that responds to a question that can be possibly asked) right below it.
Much like the notable SEO practice of placing your anchor text strategically beside your target keyword, Google is more inclined to pull information from your site’s content and use it as a featured snippet because your headings, specifically your H1 tag, is keyword-optimized.
As a means to deflect bounce rates.
Bounce rates, among others, are the indicators that web crawlers look for when it comes to evaluating your site for SEO purposes. Generally, a high bounce rate would mean your site is not appealing enough to provide the user experience that search engines advocate. With a few tweaks, however, you can use your headings to keep users from bouncing off to other pages.
First, when you keep your headings consistent (e.g. same in format and concise), you make it easier for your reader to breeze through your content. An otherwise disorganized and poor header tag use can discourage users from staying in your page, no matter how valuable the information you offer.
Second, informative and interesting headers help convert web users who scan to users who actually read your content. Assuming your content is well-written and is of high quality, your headings can work hand in hand with it, like tag team version of your on-site SEO tactics.
Lastly, keep track of the number of header tags you use. Remember that the best SEO practices lead to a higher rank. In terms of headings, H1 tags and their presence in your site is a good SEO marker. Used multiple times, these header tags remain to be acceptable. However, if you want the best SEO practice, using only one H1 tag on your page is the key. The idea here is to use a sole heading to target your user’s search intent, head on. Using too much of these big and visually-catching header tags can oftentimes cause confusion to your reader, adding to a poor user experience and a higher chance of a bounce taking place. And when the search engine spiders detect lesser online traffic toward your site, this tells them that your site may not offer the quality that passes users’ standards. Therefore, when in doubt, just choose one H1 tag for greater and clearer impact.
As a navigation tool.
Not all users of online search can easily and readily read the text displayed in the pages that they visit. There are those who need a little bit of help, like the visually-impaired, so they can still enjoy the informative benefits that an online search can provide. Gadget and computer makers have answered this need by way of adding accessibility tools in their devices to help cater to the differently-abled users. Screen readers, for example, exist to read aloud whatever is displayed onscreen to the user. With headers being primarily in HTML format, they can also be detected by these accessibility tools. In turn, your headings can serve as structural guides that can be dictated to the user to help them understand your content better. If the user decides to skip ahead to the needed information, headings can also be used in conjunction with this screen reader option of jumping from one subtopic to the next.
With a wide range of SEO strategies available to developers and digital marketers alike, some equally important website components can get overlooked. While there is nothing wrong with prioritizing link building, high content writing, and optimizing for mobile responsiveness and page loading speeds, taking the strategic use of headings into consideration will also do no harm. In fact, SEO best practices include the use of headings as potentially beneficial, especially when it comes to your rank on the SERPs.
By creating a visually-appealing site with pages that are organized for better reading and content navigation, your headings can have an impact on user experience which, in turn, is considered as an influential SEO ranking factor. Header tags can also be used in aide of keyword use as a strategic location that can also act as a signal to web crawlers when it comes to indexing your page in the search engine database. Placing target keywords in your headings can also increase your site’s chance at being featured as a snippet with your content’s preview being displayed at the topmost part of the SERPs listings.
Similarly, headings that are consistent, informative, and well-crafted to catch users’ attention can also lessen your site’s bounce rates. Lower bounce rates, in turn, tells search engine bots that users stay for a considerable length of time in your site because it offers them a valuable experience. Finally, headings can also cater as a means to provide accessibility and better site navigation for those who are physically-challenged, when it comes to maneuvering technological devices and viewing onscreen display. By serving this population of mobile and search engine users, headings clearly help in building a good user experience to every visitor that lands on your page.
In the game of changing algorithms and tricky SEO tactics, the use of every component of your company’s website will always prove to be a valuable tool. As SEO continues to evolve in form and function, keeping up with the times involves making use of all the resources you can gather: from the biggest content you can create, up to the smallest yet advantageous headings you can compose.