Back on August 1st I wrote a “just wondering…” post regarding the importance of headings as they relate to on-site SEO efforts today – specifically H1, H2 and H3. I didn’t get much expert feedback, so I’ve decided to implement some real-world testing on an established domain to see if headings have an impact on the ranking of that site’s home page.
I officially started this test on 09/24, using Rank Checker to run an initial analysis. Check out the results, should you so desire. At the time the report was run, the site had one <h1> located within the header. All other paragraph headings were <h6> and that had been the case for several weeks prior to beginning the “test”.
After running Rank Checker, I adjusted the headings on the site’s home page to include the <h1> in the header (unchanged), remaining paragraph headings were adjusted to include <h2> and <h3>, rather than <h6> as before. I used CSS to maintain an appropriate font size, style and color within the content of the page. No other changes were made to the page content and/or site structure.
I will be interested to see if headings have any impact on the ranking of the homepage whatsoever. Some still believe that headings have an impact on ranking, but some believe headings to be an antiquated aspect of on-site SEO. Having used an established and indexed domain, as well as a page with content that is relatively static, should ultimately offer some insight as to whether or not headings play into the ranking of a page.
In the meantime, I welcome anyone with similar documented testing on the use of heading tags to share your experiences here! I’d like to get more feedback on this issue, as there appears to be a great deal of confusion and/or disagreement on the potential impact of headings among search marketing experts these days!
Michael D says
No documented testing but I was just changing some titles today to include an H1 tag. Header had not been changed in a long time (6 months to a year) and I was curious to see if any change took place as a result. The page looks better (at least to me) so I’ll likely keep it unless I notice something out of what’s expected.
There seems to be a lot ambiguity and conflicting opinions on the use of headings and their impact on ranking. Hopefully using established sites that are already ranking consistently and adjusting only the headings will provide some supporting evidence one way or the other.
Please come back and let me know how your testing goes!
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Jim Hathaway says
I sometimes advise folks on basic SEO best practices, and heading tags are among the those recommendations. Curious to know how your test turned out. Are headings still worth the effort??
Well, Jim…thanks for calling me out on my own blog for never following up on this. ;) Based on my research on the topic, I believe that headings are, in fact, still worth the effort.
The site, or more accurately the page within the site, that I used to conduct the research did in fact rank better with the use of , and tags as paragraph headings than it did without them, albeit only by 2-3 positions for a less than ultra-competitive target term. Granted, there are a seemingly endless number of factors that go into SERPs these days, but this led me to believe that headings do have a positive impact on rank, even if it is a small one.
We can’t look past the original reason for heading tags initially and that was to help improve the usability of the page, making it easier for a visitor to scan and get an idea of what information is included within the paragraphs that follow a particular heading.
That said, the proper use of headings has no downside. I, like you, recommend that headings be used as part of the SOP in building or modifying a site – both for SEO purposes, but also to improve the site’s usability for visitors. Good question! :)
Jim Hathaway says
Thanks for confirming. Seems to be a good habit either way. You’re good writer. Keep it up!
Thanks for the compliment, Jim! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Hope you subscribed to my RSS feed! :)
That’s an awesome test to be running – I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on your results. Header tags have an impact on SEO, but how the details fill out is something I’ve always wondered about. I think your test will shed some great light on it.
Thanks for commenting, Eric. This was a test I ran some time ago and not much has changed in the interim. As I mentioned to Jim in my reply to his comment above, the use of headings did appear to have a positive impact on the SERPs for my test site.
Though, as I also mentioned, the target terms certainly weren’t ultra-competitive terms. Nevertheless, the site did move up an average of 2-3 positions for the primary target terms included in the headings themselves. That still holds true today and no further changes have been made.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
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