Your H-tags are critical for your rankings on Google. That’s because they are one of the strongest content singal when Google is trying to understand and categorize what your pages are about. They are also a very visual factor for users who are visiting your page – and ultimately, determine whether the reader is going to stay or not. That’s because having well structured H-tags can spark interest in the reader and ultimately push them to continue reading.
If your H-tags are too straight-to-the-point, the user might lose interest and just skim around the headings without actually reading the content. This might result in low time on page and therefore negatively impact your rankings – since the users will be more likely to bounce back and find another more “satisfying” result – even if you have the best content out of all of your competitors.
On the other hand, if your H-tags are very vague, the user might not find them interesting enough to even bother reading. They might confuse them – and even after skimming through, the user might feel “left out of the conversation” and therefore skip your page – similarly to how they would when they can easily predict what’s coming.
Because of that, you need to ensure that the text in your H-tags (and your Title Tag) is as optimal as possible and can both grab the attention and spark interest in your readers.
In fact, this is a very popular topic in the space of productivity and behavioral research. That is, the challenge and novelty that lies ahead must be just about right – if it’s too simple, the user will be unengaged and leave – and if it’s too complex, they will be overwhelmed and consecutively once again drop off.
But having only H-tags that are written well to be engaging is only one part of the equation. That is, when considering how your page ranks – and ultimately how you will be attracting your readers, you also need to consider how your H-tags will be structured from an SEO perspective. Because H-tags are more important in Google’s eyes, they also carry more weight when it comes to their ranking algorithm.
Because of that, let’s dive into these 3 concrete tips on how you can improve the H-tags in your content already today.
Tip #1 – Creating & Maintain Proper H-tag Structure
First and foremost is the structure. While Google has claimed that they can read and understand “messy” H-tag structure where there is no logical sequence between the numbers, multiple SEOs have confirmed that their pages rank better when they follow a clear and concise structure.
And that’s logical. Even if Google can understand what the page is about and correctly adjust their rankings, the users might find it too big of a burden to easily follow through with the content on the page and therefore cause negative SEO signals by bouncing back.
Therefore, to keep a good H-tag structure, you need to ensure that you follow the hierarchy:
Every “child” H-tag element should be nested under its “parent” element – that is, H5s should only appear under H4s and not under H2s or H3s. That’s because you’re breaking the natural hierarchy of things – and therefore putting the wrong priorities on the different elements.
However, every “parent” H-tag element can be immediately followed by any other higher-priority tag – but again, only by the next following lower-priority tag. That is, if you have an H4 tag, it can logically be followed by an H2 tag – since this would tell Google and the reader that you’re naturally transitioning to another sub-subject in your page content. However, you should not follow with an H6 tag under an H4 – since in this case you’d skip the next logical sequence which is the H5 tag.
While this error is not as critical as some other bigger onpage SEO problems, it can still cause confusion both for the end users consuming your content and for Google who is the judge deciding where your page should rank – neither of which are things you want if you want to rank higher. To easily fix this type of error, we recommend using an SEO tool – and this one called Morningscore seems to be easy to work with.
Next up, let’s look at how you should structure your keyword distribution when it comes to your H-tags. Should you include it in every H-tag? Only in the high-priority ones? “Yes” in the title but “No” for any other H-tags? Let’s see below!
Tip #2 – Your Target Keyword Distribution In Your H-tags
The first thing to remember is that H-tags are a natural part of the content and therefore they can have keywords in them too – it’s natural. As we mentioned, they are actually treated slightly higher than regular text as they have a special meaning in Google’s eyes – namely that they are important headings in the different sections of the content. With this, Google has an easier time determining both what your overall page content is about – but also what each specific section is about and how it contributes to the total.
Adding keywords in your H-tags is an important practice for ranking both site-wise but also paragraph-wise. THat is, often (especially for informational queries) you can get featured snippets for specific paragraphs of your text. While nowadays Google’s BERT algorithm is great at understanding and relating the meaning between different words, it is still a great idea to feature your target keyword in your H-tags.You just need to monitor your keyword density.
So how many is too many?
Anything over 70% is too much. To put it simply, if you have 10 H-tags on your page, you should add your keyword to no more than 7 of them. More than that can be detrimental as it can cause Google to see your page as spamming. It can also make your text robotic which can put off the user.
Now, also remember to take that number with a grain of salt – after all, by “keyword” we’re not talking about your exact match main keyword but rather expressing the “topic” which consists of different variations of your keywords. That is, if you want to rank for car, we suggest you use the keywords “car” and “vehicle” interchangeably throughout your H-tags.
Tip #3 – Anchor Linking Your H-tags From A ToC
Now, H-tags are great because they are one of the biggest factors when it comes to ranking for “Position 0” results – also known as Featured Snippet. You can also rank well for individual questions that appear in your content from your H-tags and the paragraphs that follow them.
So what’s the best way to do that? Well, the best way to tell Google these paragraphs are more important than the rest – and as an added bonus make it so much easier for the user to navigate the page – are your Table of Contents links at the top of your page. To do that effectively with WordPress, you can find a plugin similar to this one called Easy Table of Contents that automatically fills them out for you based on the priority you set. For example, you can have only H2s & H3s appear – with the plugin adding custom HTML Anchor IDs that it links to.