What are Headings?
You may know them by the more common term, "sub-titles." Simply put, headings/sub-titles are subordinate titles (hence "sub") which provide additional information about some type of content.
Headings/sub-titles break the content of a post into specific sections which can be more readily identified by the reader. Before moving on, take a look at the structure of this post and note how headings help to organize its topics.
Why Use Heading Tags?
- It's easy to do.
- Good headings can help the reader navigate the content of your posts.
- You can use headings to avoid creating a "wall of text," which is daunting for readers.
- They can help search engines understand the structure of your page.
- They may provide a slight SEO boost (according to Google's own John Mueller).
The Different Types of Headings
There are 6 types of headings: "h1" through "h6" (the "h" stands for "heading").
Hi's are reserved for the titles of the page/blog post. The other headings, "h2" through "h6", decrease in font size and, likewise, should be used in decreasing order of importance.
I have never felt the need to go beyond using an "h3" heading, and many of you will probably only need to use up to a"h2" heading. As a point of reference, all the headings on this post, besides the post title, are "h2". Headings work in a heirarchy, so remember to use a lower heading under a higher one.
Large Bolded Text vs. Heading Tags
You can recreate the look of a heading by tinkering with the font and boldness of any text, but true headings are created using the proper html code (<h1>, <h2>, etc.). Bolded text falls under a different category and is made using the <strong> html code. A search engine crawler can see when text is bolded but doesn't recognize the text beneath it as directly related content.
The image on the left is from a Calla Gold Jewelry blog post that used bolded text instead of a heading. Notice the use of the <p> tags (which are used to create regular text) and the use of the <strong> tag, which bolds the text. This certainly helps the human reader recognize the section break, but it doesn't do anything for the search engine crawlers.
Creating Headings on WordPress Sites
There are two ways to make a heading. The first is through your text drop-down menu, where you can simply click on the heading of your choice. You can highlight some text then select the desired heading, or you can select the heading before typing. Just be sure to change the style back to "paragraph" when you want to write the rest of the content.
The second option is to use html. For those of you who get a little anxious at the thought of coding, don't worry! It's much simpler than you may think.
Go to your web page or blog post and type out the text that will serve as a heading, then look for the html/text view (WordPress has it in the upper right corner of the typing area -- see the image below). Find your text, then surround it with the <h2> tag in front and the closing </h2> tag behind it. It should look like this: <h2>Your Heading Here</h2>. Check out the image below for an example.
Switch back to your visual view to see if it worked!
When Should I Use Headings?
There is no hard and fast rule about when you should or shouldn't use headings. If you have short blog posts that are only a few paragraphs long, then they probably aren't necessary. If your content is a little longer and you think it could be broken up into sections, then you should consider using them. Don't worry if this means that you'll have to rearrange your content to make the sections more distinct. I did the same thing on this post!
In general, don't throw in unnecessary headings for a potential SEO boost. Good, high quality content that doesn't follow every little technical SEO tip will outrank low quality content that does.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below!