How to Use Header Tags for SEO

If ranking well in search results is something that matters to you, then it’s important to know how the structure of your page affects your search-engine performance. For example, did you know that section headers have a big impact on how you rank in search results?

Understanding how Google reads headers and what that does to your search ranking can make a big difference when it comes to your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. If you learn how to use header tags for SEO, you’ll be that much closer to appearing on the coveted first page of Google search results.

Read on for a beginner’s guide to header tags for SEO: what they are, why they matter, and how to use them on your website.

What are header tags?

Header tags are code snippets used to format article headers.

This code is automatically added to your page whenever you edit something in your WordPress.com editor, and is then read by internet browsers.

To us, headers appear as larger text. But if someone were to read this page’s code, the above header would look like this:

<h2>What are header tags?</h2>

There are a few things to note about what you see above:

  • The “h” stands for “header,” and the number denotes how big that header is. The biggest and most important headers are written as <h1>, while the smallest are <h6>.
  • A header begins with the opening tag (seen above as <h2>) and ends with a closing tag (seen above as </h2>).
  • Everything between those opening and closing tags is the header text.

Don’t worry if it’s the first time you’re seeing these things. You won’t need to know how to write code to optimize your headers, as WordPress.com takes care of it for you.

Why Google cares about header tags

Header tags are meant to improve an article’s overall readability, and indicate what a given section of the article is about.

This very article uses three different <h2> headers that help you understand what information you’ll find in each section.

  • <h2>What are header tags?</h2>
  • <h2>Why Google cares about header tags</h2>
  • <h2>How to use header tags for SEO</h2>

A structure like this makes a post scannable and also easier to comprehend. This is true for you as a reader, but it’s also true for Google.

The main challenge that Google faces when indexing a web page is understanding what that page is actually about. Going through the headers is one of the best methods to find out.

Google will read a page’s header tags. Based on what it finds within those headers, it will decide whether a page is a worthy resource.

So, if your headers are well-written, Google will look more favorably on your page.

How to use header tags for SEO

To use header tags for SEO, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Write headers that clearly explain what each section of your page is about.
  • Put the search terms that you want to target in your headers.

WordPress.com has always made setting up header tags a very straightforward process — and it’s now even easier with the introduction of the Heading block in the new WordPress Editor.

When you start a new block, simply type /heading or choose Heading from the list of available blocks. You can then choose the desired size of your block.

Adding a Heading block to a blog post

Any text you enter under this heading (and before the next one, if you add other headings to your content) will be associated with it and considered part of the same section.

It’s important to respect the hierarchy of the headers. The most important headers should be <h2> headers, slightly less important ones should be <h3>, and so on — so if you have one long section containing a few smaller subsections, use <h2> for the former, and <h3>for each of the latter.

What about <h1>? In practice, this header level is reserved for the title of the page, so it shouldn’t be used within your content. WordPress.com will automatically format your post’s title with <h1> headers.

Now that you know how to use header tags for SEO, you’re more than ready to start optimizing your content to get noticed by Google and similar search engines.

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