Website Headings and Subheadings: How To Make Them Work For You

Anabeth McConnell Anabeth McConnell
December 19, 2022   |   6 min read time
Topics: website content

Your website's main page heading is one of the first things visitors will see, and it's important to make a good impression. Likewise, subheadings can help guide visitors to the content they're looking for. Here's why website headings and subheadings matter, and how to make sure yours are effective.

What Are Website Headings And Subheadings?

Headings and subheadings are important, and often underutilized element, for properly formatting your site page and gaining more traction with your SEO. A great heading and subheading should be useful, but also can show your unique personality and create curiosity.

What Is A Website Heading?

In SEO terms, a heading is a headline or title that is used to break up content on a webpage. Headings help provide a structure for the text on a page, organizing the content into smaller sections, so that it is easy for both visitors and search engines to navigate and understand.

What Is A Website Subheading?

A subheading is a mini-headline or text that can be found under the main headline to give further insight or support for the headline. Where headings can be used to entertain, add shock, or hook readers to make them want to know more, the subheading guides the reader to keep reading or scanning for information.

An offshoot of a subheading is eyebrow copy. This is a blurb directly over a header that helps provide additional context to the section. Also a fun way to add in some personality!

What Is The Content Hierarchy Format?

Knowing that headings and subheadings are important, how do we use them. First you must consider the content hierarchy.

Content hierarchy is the strategic placement of each heading & subheading type based on the order of content through each page and post, and it is absolutely an important element in content marketing.

Proper Order/Nesting

Headings and subheadings help achieve the content hierarchy format goals. In addition to using headings and subheadings properly, strategic placement of your content on each page and post is critical; putting the most important information at the top of the page, and the least important at the bottom will help you achieve your hierarchy formatting goals.

Why Should You Use Headings & Subheadings For Content Hierarchy?

A lot of the time, a reader will scan your content to get an idea of what your post is about, and then they will decide which section of the post they’re going to read. To help your reader easily find the section they want to read, use headings and subheadings. Without the use of headings and subheadings, it will likely be difficult for your reader to search for the section they are looking for and you will lose traffic on a daily basis.

Why Do Website Headings And Subheadings Matter?

Headings help users - and search engines - to read and understand your text copy. Headings act as signposts for the readers and they also define the parts of your content that are important, as well as how they’re interconnected.

First Impressions

First impressions matter. People make snap judgements all of the time, and it only takes 1/10th of a second to form a first impression. One of the top five website sections that draw the most interest from viewers is the site’s written content. Ensuring you are using proper heading format and structure is critical to your first impression.

Headers Provide Content Structure

Headers show text structure and they indicate what a section or paragraph is about. For website copy, it’s good practice to make sure that your headings are informative to your reader. Always keep in mind that the main focus of your headings should be on the content and that their primary purpose is to make your text easier to read and understand.

Search Engine Optimization

As the bots are crawling your page trying to figure out what the page is about, one of the first areas crawl is your headings and subheadings.

Keep in mind, search engines put the most weight into the keywords within your H1 tag. This tag is telling search engines what your main topic is about, and then they crawl the rest of your content for other instances and variations of these keywords.

While your content should be user-focused first, adding keywords your users are searching for in your headings and subheadings helps the SEO bots place your page higher in search rankings.

When your headings let users and the SEO bots know what your page or article is about, this will in turn help Google and other search engines to understand your content, too.

Best Practices For Writing Effective Website Headings And Subheadings

Writing headings and subheadings takes practice. Here are a few tips:

Write For Your Audience

Maintaining a sense of audience awareness helps to guide the bulk of your content. Headings, subheadings, keywords, and graphics all play a part in writing for your audience.

Keep It Short And Sweet

Usually, the shorter, the better. No one wants to read a long-winded heading or subheading. Readers prefer content that is straight to the point. Longer subheadings are fine in some instances, primarily when you’re squeezing in a longtail keyword. Do try to avoid having a mix of short and long headings, though, as they could distract readers.

Use Keyword-Rich Phrases

Instead of cramming your content with keywords with the sole purpose of increasing your SEO rankings, try thoughtfully choosing your keywords and using them sparingly throughout your content. Referencing your keywords in your headings and subheadings will help users to navigate content while also helping with SEO.

Make It Benefit-Driven

When you highlight the solution to your readers’ problems, it gives them a strong reason to continue reading to get the full content. The more clearly you’re able to communicate a benefit, the higher your engagement and the lower your bounce rates.

Break Up Text With Subheadings

Incorporating subheadings into your content is one of the easiest and most effective ways to break up large amounts of text and help your reader pinpoint the most important information.

Only Use One H1 Tag

The H1 tag is the highest level of headings and should contain the primary keyword for the main topic of the page.

Keep Headings Consistent

Having a consistent presentation of case, capitalization, and color across your site, as well as having a consistent voice across your website and posts, helps your reader to understand what your web page and article are about.

Make Headers Interesting

Using catchy and informative headers, as well as images and graphics help to make your headers more interesting, enticing the reader to continue reading your content.

Things To Consider When Writing Website Headers And Subheaders

Headers and subheaders are critical elements of web design, organization, and writing that can often be overlooked. Be sure to keep these things in mind:

Headers Are Not Selected for Aesthetics

Proper headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.) should not be chosen just for their style and appearance.

Always Start With H1

H1 tags help search engines understand the main idea of the page and should include a primary keyword for some SEO juice.

Do Not Skip Headings

After the H1 tag should come the H2 tag. Don’t skip the heading hierarchy. In other words, after using the H1 tag, don’t use the H3 heading tag. It breaks standard organizational structure and if you skip a heading, a reader may assume that they skipped a section of your post.

Break A Long Content Into Multiple Sections By Heading & Subheading

I can’t think of anyone who loves to read long content in one paragraph. Using headings and subheadings to break long content into different sections will attract readers and will make your content styling eye-catching.

Subheadings Should Relate To The Content

A heading is used as the summary for the content that is underneath it, so the heading/subheading should be relevant to the content of that paragraph.

Never Use A Subheading Just For Styling

One common mistake when using headings and subheadings is assigning the character​​ style because it looks “pretty”. Understand where the content you are writing stands within the context of the section. Don’t assign an H3 character style just because it “looks” better than the H2.

Wrapping Up

The best way to share your content with all audiences is to help them easily navigate your webpage content through intentionally designed headings and subheadings.

Following these tips will help you improve your use of headings and subheadings within your website pages and blog post and provide a better user experience through a more strategic content hierarchy.

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