Website headings have a hierarchy
When you write content for your website or blog, you’ll notice you have a choice of different headings.
But when it comes to using those headings, a lot of website owners — and even some web designers — get it wrong.
There’s actually a hierarchy your website and blog headings should follow — and it’s important to get it right. I’ll explain why later on, but first let’s get to grips with the hierarchy.
Website heading sizes from H1 to H6
The headings on your website and blog run from H1 to H6, with H1 being the largest and H6 being the smallest.
All headings are important for SEO — but, as a rule, the larger the heading the more important it is.
H1: Main title
The H1 is the largest and most important. There should only be one H1 on each page and it should be used as your main title.
H2: Main headings
The H2 heading is the next largest and you should use it for all your main section headings. You can have as many H2s as you like on a page and they’re great for SEO, so optimise them wherever you can.
The H3 subheading is for when you need to break up the content under a main H2 heading.
I use a different colour for my own H3s when they’re points on a list or when I want to create a more visual break in the text.
The H4 subheading is for subdividing content under an H3.
The H5 subheading is for subdividing content under an H4.
The H6 subheading is for subdividing content under an H5.
Website heading sizes in practice
Your website and blog have six different heading sizes, but you’ll mostly only need to use H1 to H4.
Here’s an example of how I used those headings in a blog article on how to choose more sustainable toilet paper.
H1: How to choose more sustainable toilet paper
H2: Not all countries use toilet paper
H2: The environmental impact of toilet paper
H2: Choose plastic-free toilet paper
> H3: What is plastic-free toilet paper?
H2: Choose recycled toilet paper
> H3: How is recycled toilet paper made?
> H3: How to choose recycled toilet paper
>> H4: Look for FSC labelling
>> H4: What if there is no labelling?
H2: Choose unbleached toilet paper
> H3: Processed Chlorine-Free (PCF)
> H3: Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF)
> H3: Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF)
Why are headings so important?
Using relevant headings in your copy and content:
- Breaks up the text so it’s easier to read
- Makes the text more scannable and skimmable
- Helps readers to locate specific information easily
- Helps Google to understand what your pages are about.
Why does using the right website heading sizes matter?
Using relevant headings and following the correct hierarchy is important for a number reasons. Here are three of the main ones.
To organise your content
Using the heading hierarchy helps to organise your content in a sensible and logical order. This gives your content a coherent structure that makes it easier for readers to track down the specific information they’re looking for
To optimise your content
The heading hierarchy is important for SEO because it highlights the most important sections and topics. This makes the content more crawlable. It also tells Google what it’s about, so it knows how to index and rank it.
To make your content accessible
The heading hierarchy makes your content more accessible for outside technology. This includes both search engines and screen readers that assist the visually impaired.
Some website heading don’ts
Here are some common mistakes with headings that you should always avoid making.
Don’t use more than one H1
The H1 should only ever be used for your title. Multiple H1s aren’t supported — so if you use more than one, it won’t count.
Don’t deviate from the hierarchy
Don’t skip from an H2 to an H4 or an H5.
Follow the heading hierarchy with care. An H1 should always be followed by an H2, an H2 should always be followed by an H3, an H3 should always be followed by an H4… you get the idea.
Don’t use headings as regular text
If you want to enlarge a section of text to make it stand out, it’s tempting to make it a heading, but this is a bad idea. Because the enlarged text often doesn’t follow the hierarchy correctly and isn’t relevant as a heading.
About the author
I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance copywriter and content writer based in Leicester, UK.
For the last 14 years, I’ve specialised in digital copywriting for the web, providing my clients with high-performing SEO-optimised web copy and blog content.
You can find out more about me and what I do, by heading over to my main website.