H Is for H Tags: Why On-Page Content Matters for Search and Readers
Google may be the most powerful search engine in the world, and your readers may be the most intelligent in all the land. That doesn’t mean they don’t need the help navigating your content that only H tags can provide.
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H tags are one of the less appreciated pieces of the HTML puzzle on an average website, but they’re both commonplace and critical as an organizing tool for pages. They tell both readers and search engines where to look within an article, and given the limited intelligence of search engines and the limited attention spans of most readers, that matters a great deal.
On this page alone, the sections are broken out by an H1 tag title and three H2 tags, which we’re using to give you an introduction to header tags. It’s some real Inception-type stuff, but it also allows us to cleanly organize a short definition, long definition, and the importance of the topic for marketers. (Speaking of definitions, have you seen our list of inbound marketing ones?) If you already know the definition and we didn’t use these tags, you might never get to the part of this post that interests you the most.
In your website’s code, an H tag will look like this: <h1>Marketing Jokes</h1>, and will be positioned above other content. That tells both the reader and Google (more on that later) that the following blog post is going to feature knee-slappingly funny marketing jokes like this one:
Q: Why did the piece of content not respond to antibiotics?
A: Because it was viral!
I’m so sorry.
Why H tags are important to marketers
Besides GIFs and images, H tags are simply one of the best ways to break up content on a page and avoid the dreaded wall of text. By organizing your content around logical breakpoints and using H2, H3, or even H4 tags to indicate hierarchy, you form a logical progression through a page’s content, and you can break a broad topic down into digestible subtopics. From a user experience perspective, it makes everything tidier and easier to read, which both readers and Google appreciate.
In a more subtle way, these tags have genuine SEO benefits. When Google’s little digital spiders crawl all over you—apologies, arachnophobes—looking to learn what a piece of content is about, H tags give them important key terms to consider for the rest of the page. This is why your header tags should logically relate to the page they’re on and the sections that follow them; Google is keen on checking headers for keyword and topical relevancy and seeing whether they match page content in that regard.
As a marketer, your job is to attract and keep attention. If you’re still rolling out 600-word blog posts that don’t feature anything to break up the text, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
So the message is, don’t forget your H tags!
If you skimmed this post…
We wouldn’t want you to think an H tag is a medical term, so we’ll give you the quick and dirty version. Also known as header tags, H tags are HTML elements used to help organize a page and determine what readers and search engines should care about. Tags are organized from H1 to H6, in descending order of importance, and have genuine (if small) SEO relevance.