This article was inspired by a question that was recently posted about H1 and H2 headings on the SEO subReddit. I realized that I use this information in my terminology with clients quite a bit, but I’m sure that many of you are not necessarily certain about what exactly I’m talking about.
Code and Style
Heading or Paragraph selectors are in all major word processing programs and in most good WYSIWYGs. In certain word processing programs – choosing your headings allows you to create a magical table of contents, complete with page numbers, with a click of a button. Many of us may only have discovered this after writing page 77 of our college thesis papers. Thinking about headings in this way, as an outline or a table of contents of your page, helps isolate what it is that H1 and h2 actually are.
H1, or Heading 1, is similar to the title of your essay, or report, or web page. There is just one, and it succinctly conveys the ideas that all the other information covers. If your web page discusses real estate, your H1 will probably include the terms “real estate”. If your web page discusses the rise and fall of real estate development in southern California over the past 80 years, your H1 would probably read something like the following: “Southern California Real Estate Development: A Turbulent History”.
Similarly, if you have a page on your website that is devoted to a product, the H1 would be devoted to a very brief summation of what that product page entails. Therefore, if you are selling bottles of green ketchup, your H1 tag would read, you guessed it “Green Ketchup”. This method follows general guidelines presented as best practice by Google. If you are introducing an SEO element, and are trying to increase traffic to your page, then you may not choose “Green Ketchup” if “Verdent Ketchup” has many more searches per month, or is a less competitive term. That’s way it’s always important to do your keyword research.
H2, or Heading 2, is similar to the topic sentence of your paragraph, except it’s still not a sentence. It’s a supporting idea to your H1, and accurately relays what is about to happen in the text that immediately follows it. You can have several h2 headings on your page, but its not wise to use more than two or three. These are pretty main ideas, and you don’t need more than a few main ideas for any web page that you’re trying to optimize.
Going back to our example of colorful ketchup, perhaps you have a page explaining the history of the different colors of ketchup, and how each rose to predominance in the early 2000’s. In that instance your H1 would likely be “The Dramatic History of Colored Ketchup” and your h2 would be “Green Ketchup” “Blue Ketchup” and “Purple Ketchup”.
Why do they matter?
There are many different kinds of headings, but ultimately they all serve the same purpose of the organization and labeling of the information that follows in a manner that is simple for your website visitors and search engines to understand and categorize what your page is about, and why the information may be relevant.
What it looks like in practice: