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Headlines and Paragraphs

Headings on websites are extremely important for breaking up paragraphs of content and formatting your text.

Most people will be familiar with the concept of headings from using Microsoft Word. You can create a heading to briefly describe the topic of a section. Usually the Heading 1 will be the title at the top of your page, with subtitles using Heading 2, and subtitles of that section using Heading 3 and so on.

The tags beginning with “h” specify headings and range from h1 to h6, with h1 being the largest and most prominent heading and h6 being the smallest and least significant.

Headings should describe the content

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) explains, “a heading element briefly describes the topic of the section it introduces.” So, the words used in the heading should summarize what that next paragraph is about, like the headings in this section of the style guide.

It also means that the order of the headings should make sense if someone is viewing your website without the template’s style applied, and that it should look like a normal written document. This is how many disabled people will access your website. For example, people with vision impairments will most likely navigate using a screen reader that reads the text aloud. The order of the headings should be in a way that makes sense, starting with H1.

How search engines use headings

When you mark up text as a heading, you are effectively telling a search engine how important that text is on the page. Search engines—such as Google—will then use this information when rating your site in its search listings. For good search engine optimization (SEO) practice, you should always include your website’s keywords in your headings, so that the search engine understands that these are the most important words on the page.

Remember that your headings also still need to be easily readable to your users, and they still need to make sense; so don’t fill them with all your keywords. This is called keyword stuffing and Google will penalize you for this.

Using the Heading 1 effectively

The Heading 1 (or H1) is the most important piece of text on your web page. There should only be one H1 on each page, which is used to briefly describe the page—it’s essentially the name of the page. The H1 should also be unique for each page, since it’s meant to describe the page, not the website. For example, your ‘”Contact Us” page would logically have the H1 of “Contact Us.”