Heading Tag

Heading tags have a particularly important function within an HTML structure. They are used in html documents to define the headings of a page.  

What are heading tags?

The heading tag is used in HTML to define headings of a page. Headings are defined by <hn> , with “n” being a number between 1 and 6, and determines which position a heading has in the hierarchy of the heading structure.

Heading tags have a particularly important function within an HTML structure. An HTML file can be understood as a combination of nodes, whereby the heading tag is the starting point from which other nodes, i.e. content or other headings, branch out. An HTML file should therefore just have one H1 heading, even through it is in theory possible to use multiple H1 tags. Lower-order headers can be used as often as desired, but should be chosen in such a way that there is an understandable hierarchy. Heading tags are used to display text, and the formatting of headings should be specified in the CSS files to separate formatting and content.

Examples of heading tags

A heading with two sub-headings would look like this:

<h1>This is a heading</h2>

<h2>This is a sub-heading</h2>

<h3>This is a third sub-heading</h3>

Every heading tag must be closed accordingly, and the content is written between the tags.

Why are heading tags important?

Heading tags provide structure to an HTML file, and specify what type of data the browser should display. How the data is to be displayed, for example font size or colors should be determined in the CSS files. The use of heading tags is a must if you want to display text content. Each HTML file should have only one start node (h1 tag) if it is to be valid. The W3C Validator can be used to check the validity of an HTML document. [1]

A well-structured HTML file offers the following advantages for users and search engines.

1.) Headings can be interpreted by browsers, which may not be able to recognize or display the custom style sheets.

2.) Screen readers and magnifiers refer to headers (accessibility and display on mobile devices).

3.) A clear structure is given: The user receives instructions concerning the content and can decide which paragraphs are of interest to them.

4.) Search Engines obtain valid source code and other signals in the form of relevant keywords from headings that summarize the content.

5.) Changes can easily be made to all headers: Only a small change to the CSS file is required and all headings receive formatting instructions.

Significance of heading tags for SEO

The heading tag is of central importance for search engines. Search engines use heading tags to identify keywords that stand out from the remaining content by their formatting. Usually a heading briefly states what the subsequent text section is all about. It is therefore highly recommended to use important keywords already in the heading. The higher the position of a heading on a page, the more important it is. However, you shouldn't use too many keywords in a heading. The keywords should have a direct relation to the content and fit into a readable sentence structure. Randomly stuffing keywords in the heading tags does not help search engines or users.

The importance of the heading tag is expressed by “n” (H1 very important, and H6 less important). There are some theories in on-page optimization specifying that the H2 headings should have particular emphasis, and that they should include significant keywords because the actual text content of a website is structured with these headings. At the same time, it is important that signals get sent to search engines through headings. So it should be well-balanced, taking into account user needs and also complying with the requirements of search engine optimization.[2]


  1. Validator. validator.w3.org. Accessed on 03/29/2014
  2. How to Use Heading Tags for SEO. blog.woorank.com. Accessed on 03/29/2014

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