Writing for the web differs greatly from writing an essay or a letter to a friend. Online readers don’t consume content in the same way they might read the pages of a novel. Instead, most web users skim pages quickly, jump from page to page, and only read the parts they find most interesting. Further complicating matters, search engines consistently browse the pages of your site, using information buried in the HTML to influence your search ranking. Fortunately, learning to master the art of headline tags will help you address both of these challenges.


Headlines 101: What are Tags?

Headlines break up your content and direct your reader through the page. Tags are used within a page’s HTML code to mark the headlines. Contrary to popular opinion, headline tags do much more than simply determine the font size for your text. The tags determine the importance of each headline.

Don’t try to stuff your headlines with keywords or use them too frequently in an attempt to “trick” the search engine. It is important to remember, however, that the search spiders do compare keywords in your headlines to the body of your text. As long as you’re writing relevant headlines, you’ll be in good shape.

How to Use Headline Tags

An h1 tag should be used for the most important headlines on your page. Each subsequent number h1-h6 denotes a subheading of the number before it.

It’s important to follow this hierarchy, or the search engine spiders won’t be able to understand your headlines within their intended context. You’ll likely be using a content management system like WordPress for creating your blog posts, in which case, you can simply highlight the text and choose which headline style to use. The system will add the tags to the code for you.

Understanding Headlines from a Reader’s Standpoint

Unless you’ve studied web user behavior, you likely underestimate the importance of a page’s headlines. The next time you find yourself browsing online, pay attention to how you use headlines to guide yourself. The most important headline (h1) shows you what a specific page references, whereas subheadlines help you find the relevant portions you wish to read. Using headlines effectively helps optimize your site for SEO purposes, while simultaneously improving overall user experience.

Headlines might appear complicated at first glance, but it’s quite easy to master these helpful tools. To maximize your headline potential, experiment with different headings and pay attention to metrics like bounce rates and incoming visitors from search engines. With a bit of luck and hard work, you’ll be able to work out how best to use headlines to improve the quality of your site’s pages.