For SEO Purposes Don’t Worry about How You Format Headers
When working with clients, we often hear that they’ve been advised to optimize their headings for better SEO. And the truth is that there are many resources online that say the same thing, which, for those who aren’t familiar with SEO, might be confusing.
Why is that, you may ask?
Google is constantly evolving and so are its ranking factors.
Before, headers were an essential ranking factor, as Google used them to pinpoint keywords and understand which expressions the page was trying to optimize for.
However, that isn’t the case anymore.
As Google’s ability to understand a page has evolved, the exact way you format your headers has become a minor factor.
So why are headers still important and how can you use them to improve your website? Well, let’s jump on in!
What Are the Different Types of Header?
There are different types of headers you can use in your content: H1, H2, H3, and so on.
The headers title each section of content in a post and they’re organized by how large they are. For example, on this blog post, “What Are the Different Types of Header?” is a H2. If we wanted to add a section within this section, we would title it with an H3.
SEO managers used to believe that using H1’s was the best strategy, as it would demonstrate the priority of the header, therefore helping with the page’s ranking.
However, Google has since updated its algorithms, letting us, digital marketers, know that they have greatly improved the way they read websites and, as such, don’t need to rely on the exact code type for details like headers.
In fact, at the beginning of 2020, John Mueller (Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst) said this, when asked about what is the best header type to use:
“I think in general, headings are a bit overrated in the sense that it’s very easy to… get pulled into lots of theoretical discussions on what the optimal headings should be...We do use headings when it comes to search. But we use them to better understand the content on the pages...So… this question of… how should I order my H1, H2, H3, headings and what should the content be, that’s something from my point of view isn’t really that relevant.”
So, the question is: do headers still matter?
The answer is simple: yes, they do, but for different reasons… that will get into next.
Headers: A Matter of Design or SEO?
Different websites have different design templates and if you take a bit to explore a few pages, you’ll quickly notice that headers are used in many different ways.
This isn’t for SEO purposes, but rather to improve usability.
These headers help organize the content on a page and its hierarchy, which makes it easier for users to understand the page.
In terms of SEO, it doesn’t really matter which header is used. As long as it is easy to spot the headers and understand the keywords each page focuses on, Google won’t give your headers much importance.
That’s why, when building websites with our clients, we let the design and UI/UX team choose the headers. So, when planning your website’s heading, remember that they’re a matter of design and user experience, more than a matter of SEO.