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Header Tags

What are header tags?

When you plug content for a web page into your CMS, you have options for tagging chunks of text as H2. Essentially, these are different types of headers and they are important for SEO. There are other heading tags beyond these, such as H3, H4, H5, and H6, but they are not incredibly helpful for SEO. The H1 carries the most weight when it comes to ranking power, followed by the H2. Basically, they descend by importance. The H1 is the main header, while the H2 is the subheader. While each page should only have one H1, it can have multiple H2s, which are best used as section headers within the body of your text. Think of it this way: the headers provide both search engines and users with an outline of a page’s content. 

In recent years, there has been some skepticism regarding just how much of a factor header tags are in Google’s ranking algorithm. Some believe that their importance has diminished with time. However, when we think about header tags from a user experience point of view, it becomes clear that using headers is still a best practice. 

When searchers click on a result in the SERP, they expect to find exactly what they are looking for when they land on the web page. For this reason, it is important that you have a header and subheaders that speak directly to the keywords that the searcher used in their query to find you. If they get to the page and see nothing immediately relevant to their search, then they will click the back button. This will register as a bounce, which will negatively affect your search engine visibility. 

Writing headers

Writing H1s

It is important to note that you should only have one H1 on each page. The H1 is the main header for a webpage. Take, for example, a program page on a higher ed website. The header might simply be “MBA.” However, you would want to get more granular than this so that your H1 can include more keywords. For example, you might instead name the H1 “MBA Programs” or “MBA Degrees” as both “degrees” and “programs” are top keywords. There are no character limits for H1s, so you can make the headers as long as you’d like. You may opt to make the header a sentence, such as: “Our MBA Programs Open Up Endless Career Advancement Opportunities.” Remember, you should only have one H1 on each page.

H1s in TerminalFour

H1 headings in TerminalFour are generated from the name you have given your section. You will never have to set an H1 in your content. Content headings start with H2.

Writing H2s

H2s serve as subheaders on a webpage. Remember, you can have more than one H2 on each page. It’s important that H2s are relevant to the page’s content. They are good to use when you have long blocks of content that you want to break up for readability purposes. For example, you may want to break up sections of body text on your main Admissions page for undergraduate, graduate, and transfer. Like with H1s, it is always a good idea to include keywords in your H2s. Therefore, if your main keyword was “admissions,” then you would want to label your H2s: Undergraduate Admissions, Graduate Admissions, and Transfer Admissions. 

If you opt to use a longer, sentence-length H1, you may also consider doing the same for your first H2. For example:

H1: Our Executive MBA Programs Open Up Endless Career Advancement Opportunities

H2: With many executive MBA degrees to choose from, you can further your career in accounting, finance, healthcare, and more!

A note on keywords

The above H1 and H2 include the following keywords: executive MBA, executive MBA programs, executive MBA degrees. Note how they are woven into these headers seamlessly. While it is important that your keywords appear in your headers, it is also important that they read naturally. You don’t want to keyword stuff and have them sound grammatically incorrect. 

Also note that, while “accounting,” “finance,” and “health care,” are not part of the list of keywords you’re targeting, it is smart to list top program names, as students get more granular as their search process goes on.

Final notes

Keep in mind that content is the most important search visibility factor and headers are part of the content of a web page. That’s why it is important not to neglect header tags for your web pages. For the best optimization, be sure that the content of your header tags lines up with the information in the body text, as well as the title tags and meta descriptions. This kind of alignment ensures the best search engine visibility.

Source: Carnegie Dartlet

Because this T4 user bolded their text instead of using headings, the screen reader sees the the links on the right column as the only headings, so if someone tabs through the content, they would skip through most of the content which would be very confusing.

Because headings were used here, a visitor using a screen reader can tab through the content at their leisure.

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