SEO Basics – Headings

Having got the page title and description (the invisible bits) out of the way in my earlier post, it’s time to turn our attention to the visible parts of a web page. From both an SEO point of view and from the visitor’s viewpoint the most important elements of the page are the page headline and the paragraph headings.

The headline tells them what the page content is going to be about and the paragraph headings introduce the specific part of the page subject that will be covered in that paragraph. This is just good writing style and this is why the search engines love good headlines and headings. So how do the search engines know which part of the text is the headline and which are paragraph headings? That comes from a piece of magic called HTML.

HTML is the language of the web, web pages are written in HTML code or some variant of it. This code consists of elements called tags which describe how a piece of text or an image should appear on the viewer’s screen. The tags we are interested in today are the heading tags. There are six of these and they take the form <H1>, <H2>, all the way through to <H6>.

When coding for best SEO, most people will use <H1> for the page headline, <H2> for paragraph headings or section headings and the other <H> tags for various other pieces of text requiring emphasis such as captions etc. There should only be one <H1> tag on each page so as not to confuse the search engines as to the topic of the page, other <H> tags can be used as often as necessary.

When optimising a web page, the <H1> tag should contain the key phrase you wish to associate with the page, i.e. the phrase you want to optimise the page for. In order to re-inforce the optimisation of the page further you can use related or similar key phrases as <H2> paragraph or section headings. The collection of keywords so used indicate to the search engines the topic or theme of that page thus making it easier for the search engines to include the page in the result listings when anyone searches for that particular topic.

Ideally the key phrase used in the headline should be the same as that used in the page title that I mentioned last time. In this way the page title and page headline re-inforce one another and give a further boost to the on-page seo.

Next time I shall talk about images and how to use them as part of on-page optimisation. Later I shall go on to talk about off-page optimisation, a much larger subject.