HTML headings: How to use H1s-H5s and why they are so important for SEO

May 10, 2024
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By Karina Samuel/For David Arkin Consulting

Understanding how to use HTLM headings when it comes to laying out your story has become crucial for media companies to achieve positive Google search results. 

The hierarchy of HTML headings is more than a simple formatting tool — it’s a key SEO strategy that structures content, enhances readability, and, most importantly, signals to Google the relevance and organization of your webpage content.

Here’s how you can harness the hierarchy of H1s to H5s to elevate your SEO game. Whether you’re a veteran content creator or stepping into the digital arena for the first time, knowing the ropes of HTML heading tags can be key to boosting your Google rankings. 

Creating a clear structure with heading tags

Crafting a webpage is akin to designing a building, where H1s serve as the foundation. Your H1 is your main headline and there should be only one per page.

Subsequent headings, H2 to H5, offer a multi-tiered approach to organizing content. Think of H2s as chapter titles, essential in breaking down the main topic into sizable chunks. H3s to H5s are the sub-chapters, detailing even more specific aspects of each section.

Why heading tags matter to Google

Google’s search bots are like virtual readers, scanning through your headings much like a person flips through a magazine, looking for stand-out points before deciding to read the whole article. H1s to H5s help these bots grasp the main and subsidiary topics of your content, improving the odds that your page will be considered a good match for search queries.

Readers also prefer well-organized content and a page with clear headings is more likely to engage visitors, reducing bounce rates and increasing the likelihood of higher rankings. 

Utilizing headings for maximum impact

Every heading on your webpage should offer value. Use H1 to introduce the main idea, and let H2s introduce key sections. Populate H3s to H5s with targeted keywords that flesh out the subtopics, keeping in mind that relevance is king. 

A clear structure, engaging content, and strategic use of headings from H1s to H5s can enhance visibility and create a user-friendly experience. It’s an approach that informs, engages, and retains — a trifecta that wins the heart of Google’s algorithms.

Best Practices for Headers

Headers help organize your content for both readers and search engines, making your articles more accessible and likely to rank higher in search results. Here are some best practices for using headers effectively:

  1. H1 Tags for Main Titles: Your H1 should include the main keywords related to your content. It acts as the title and should be used only once per page. For instance, “The Ultimate Guide to New York’s Pizza Scene.”
  2. H2 Tags for Main Sections: Use H2 tags for the main sections of your content. Include relevant keywords that summarize the sections. If you’re listing the best pizza places in a city, each place’s name would go under an H2. For example, “John’s Pizzeria – Downtown Delight.”
  3. H3 to H5 Tags for Subsections: Utilize these for breaking down sections further into detailed points or specific information. They help in organizing content hierarchically. For example, under the H2 tag of a pizza place, an H3 could be “Menu Highlights at John’s Pizzeria.”
  4. Keyword-Rich Headers: Incorporate keywords naturally into your headers. Don’t keyword stuff but use some of those keywords in a way that someone might talk,
  5. Clear and Descriptive: Each header should be informative and give a clear idea of the following section’s content. Avoid vague headers.

By adhering to these best practices, you can structure your content in a way that’s beneficial for SEO, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your pages while also enhancing the reader’s experience by providing clear, navigable content.

David Arkin Consulting specializes in SEO strategies for news publishers. Reach out to us at to hear how we can help you today.



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