If you are trying to get certain pages of copy on your site ranked better on Google, you and/or your digital marketing team should be aware of certain indexing and ranking methods. Some methods are easy to put into practice while others are more detailed. In this post, the first of two, we will start by reviewing the basics of implementing headings on your site.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand how to optimally set up the copy so that it is indexed and ranked for the keywords you want to focus on. In order to do that, you need to understand the basics when it comes to page layout, which includes heading tags and the part they play in SEO and rankings. Heading tags (AKA Hx tags) include the following:
- H1 for the title (most important) at the top of the page
- H2 (second most important heading tag)
- H3 (third most important heading tag)
- H4 (fourth most important heading tag)
- H5 (fifth most important heading tag)
- H6 (sixth most important heading tag)
These headings are represented in HTML code. Note that headings 2 through 6 are subheadings, and there might be multiple of them under the more important headings.
For instance, the heading above is of the H2 variety. The subheading below is of the H3 variety since it adds more information to the topic of headings. The next main point (readability) is an H2 heading, and the subheadings below that are all H3. In practice, we very rarely use H4–H6 tags.
Also, note that in HTML coding, the heading tags from H1 to H6 form a top-down hierarchy. This means that if any of the tag numbers are left out—e.g., going from H2 to H4—the heading structure will be broken, which is not ideal for on-page SEO.
John Mueller, the senior webmaster trends analyst at Google was quoted saying that Google uses Hx tags to understand the structure of text on a page.
How to Use Keywords in Headings
The keywords used in headings, both in the title and subheadings, are just as important for SEO and ranking purposes as using the Hx tags themselves. In fact, they’re 2 of the top 10 SEO on-page factors. Keywords should be included in headings as follows:
- Include the most important keyword(s)…
- in the H1/title tag
- within the first 150 words of the body text
- as necessary throughout the rest of the page (including in subheadings)
- Include related or common alternative keyword throughout the rest of the page
- Include geographical words (city, state) along with your keywords when it makes sense
Readability of Text
There are some other things to keep in mind concerning the readability of page copy.
Titles & subheadings are also useful for page readability. Headings break up body text and make it easier to read. This is especially useful on long pages where a reader might be looking only for information from a particular section. You should not have more than 300 words of body text without an accompanying subheading.
Text size and color
Avoid using font sizes that are too small to read. Google suggests using 16-point (or 20px) font and above to diminish the need for “pinching and zooming” on mobile devices. The text color in relation to the page’s background color should also promote readability (for instance, don’t use bright yellow text on a white background). Further information on text can be found in the website accessibility guidelines and via Google’s web accessibility fundamentals.
Use these when presenting lists or summarizing key points. Bullet points can help readers skim and more quickly find the information they need.
Avoiding walls of text can help prevent page abandonment and encourage site visitors to read more of your page. We suggest chunking your content into 2–4 sentences per paragraph.
When appropriate, include images, videos, and widgets that would complement your content.
Bold and Italics for Emphasis
Putting words in bold or italics can add emphasis, so they should be the exception, not the rule. Never use all caps or underlined text to add emphasis. Appropriate use of these formatting options can call out important points you want to communicate.
Importance of Text Formatting for Readability and SEO
Keep in mind that the more readable your page copy is, the more likely site visitors are to read it. And if site visitors are reading the content, it means they’re staying on the page, which is also good for SEO purposes. The alternative? If the page gets indexed but your site visitors can’t read it, you’ve done all that work for nothing. So just make it as easy as possible for your site visitors to consume the content you’re presenting.
BONUS: While this formatting is effective for page readability, remember that formatting overall can also affect your page’s ability to show up in featured snippets (also known as “position 0” results that show up above the rest of the organic results).
For more information about best practices for indexing copy, or for general questions about site content, submit your question to our Contact Us page, or call us as 614-401-8800.