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Heading Tags: Do You Want the Scoop About How They Help SEO?

Our fellow writer rescuegal uses an SEO checker with one of her blogs, and it has been confusing her with mentions of subheading tags . She wonders just what are these tags, and how is she supposed to use them? I was going to post a comment, but as you can see my answer got a bit long!

What are 'H Tags' and How Do I Use Them?

You know the subheadings you see in between paragraphs when you read a newspaper or magazine article? They help to break the page up into manageable chunks and to help the reader quickly locate specific information when skimming over your text. They are a great visual and functional feature that makes your writing look more professional, and helps readers get more out of what they've read.

If you're using the Yoast SEO plugin, or something similar, what it wants is for you to use your focus keyword in the subheading tags (H2, H3, etc - H1 is often reserved for the title of your post.) As Ali said in her response to the question, search engines place more weight on keywords that are found in titles, headings, subheadings, etc. So the SEO checker wants you to use them there!

How to Add a Subheading to Your Post

Our dear friend writes that when she tried clicking on the subheading tag, the whole paragraph ended up in really large text. That's because the H tags are usually predefined so they will be larger and bolder than the text around them.

To avoid your whole paragraph looking like it swallowed one of Alice's “Eat Me” cakes, you want to apply the H tag to only your subheading text . If you are using a WYSIWYG editor that shows all the formatting as you type it, you can just click on the appropriate H tag before you type the subheading. Hitting enter to start a new paragraph generally returns you to a normal paragraph style.

If you decide to apply the subheading after the text has all been entered, just be sure to set your subheadings off as a separate paragraph before you click that button!

'H Tags' Nest Like Birds!

All the H tags nest like birds, stacking tables, or little Russian dolls. As I mentioned above, the H1 tag is usually reserved for your post title. I like to use H2 as the main level of subheadings for my posts. If a section of text is further broken into subheadings, I will use the H3 tag for them as I've done here. (Notice that the last two subheadings are a bit smaller than the first one?)

It's not necessary to do this, but I wanted to demonstrate how using different H tags changes the size of the heading . If you want all your tags the same size, just use the same level of tags (e.g. H2) for all the subheadings in your article.

I hope this helped!

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Image credit: Headings by Steve Buissinne/Pixabay ( CC0 1.0 )

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rescuegal wrote on July 1, 2015, 9:32 PM

Thank you very much. I'm using Yoast. I'm going to bookmark this so I can read it over again tomorrow. This is an excellent tutorial on the subject.

msiduri wrote on July 1, 2015, 10:40 PM

It's all becoming clear to me now. Thank you.

Feisty56 wrote on July 2, 2015, 8:56 AM

Thanks for this reminder about the importance of the use of subheadings -- not only for their value in SEO, but to add value for the reader.

Shellyann36 wrote on July 6, 2015, 6:42 AM

Thank you for explaining this. Now I have a better understanding of how it works. Bookmarking it to use as a reference.