British advertising tycoon David Ogilvy formerly said, “the headline is the ‘ticket on the meat.’ Use it to flag down readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising.” The sole purpose of a headline tag is to succinctly summarize the content of an article in a way that piques a reader’s attention so they click through to your website.
According to Moz, a website’s traffic can vary as much as 500% depending on its headline tag. An arresting tag helps visitors and search engines comprehend what a page is about and boosts SEO rankings. Let’s break down why having a headline tag (H-tag) matters and look at some best practices to craft the perfect ones.
To understand what an H-tag is, you have to know a bit about HTML. HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It is a language used for creating web pages and describes the structure of a web page. It allows users to create and structure sections, paragraphs, headings, links, and blockquotes on web pages. HTML elements inform the browser how to display the content.
A headline tag is an element on a website’s HTML code that represents headings on a page. HTML’s headings are classified via a hierarchy from <h1> to <h6> Each website page should only ever use one H1 per page as it represents the main heading/subject for that particular page. This is because when a query is typed on Google, the title tags are the titles that appear on its search engine results page (SERPs).
Typically, h1 is equal to the page title, although sometimes it can be different. This might occur if you have a creative idea for a title, but Google wants to index a title tag that will produce a higher click-through rate (CTR). The difference between a title and a title tag is that the page title is shown in the browser window and search results snippet, while the h1 tag is only shown on the page itself.
Search engines know headings summarize the most important information on a web page. They reference headline tags to determine what
content sections are about, which is why SEO keywords should always be included in headline tags. Moreover, an eye-catching headline tag increases CTRs.
How, exactly? Even if your page ranks highly on SERPs, if you don’t have a compelling headline tag, users won’t click it. Search engines like Google use CTRs when deciding how relevant your page is for a specific keyword. With fewer clicks, your page ranking can decrease.
A page title aims to help your content rank for keywords and make users click through your page. These guiding principles provide the foundations upon which all page titles should be created.
Page titles should exist on all pages of a website and be as unique as possible. It’s easy to get bogged down when trying to perfect SEO, but remember you’re writing for people, not search engines, so make sure that your titles are easy to read and natural sounding.
A title must be relevant to the page’s content. When a user clicks on a page that contains the keyword they searched for, Google wants to ensure that the page it takes them to is relevant to that keyword. If a title is poorly written and doesn’t correlate to relevant keywords, Google will lower the page.
Google curtails titles that exceed 60 characters. Effective titles are brief and between 55-60 characters. Technically, the search engine counts the pixels, not the characters, when deciding if a title is too long. There are various title checkers available that you can use to ensure your title is fully optimized.
Find suitable keywords for your topic and include them in your headline without trying to shoehorn too many at once just to rank higher (keyword stuffing). Loads of hacks are available to craft an impressive title with strong SEO; one such includes phrasing your title as a question, mimicking what users might type into a search engine. Structurally, titles that contain words like “how-to” or “why you need,” for example, tend to work well.
If possible, try including long-tail keywords in H1 and H2. These keywords are usually used as search queries and individually have low search volumes; however, they have greater search density as a group. For example, let’s say you’re a gym owner. Now, your main keyword might be “workout stretches.” A long-tail keyword variation could be “workout stretches for runners” or “best workout stretches for weight training.” Employing a combination of long-tail keywords that answer users’ specific questions will improve your site’s ranking.
Avoid duplicating title tags. This is a big no as it adversely affects SEO. When Google comes across duplicate titles, it will either choose which page should rank first or replace the title with another it deems more suitable, meaning that you could lose control of your SEO, and your SERPs may look sloppy.
H4 to H6 tags are more frequently used as subheadings. Their primary function is to structure content. They don’t boost search ranking as such, but they help order the hierarchy of a website’s page. While you don’t need to use all subheadings all the time, you do need to ensure you don’t skip heading levels. H2 and H3 tags are more important for SEO, but the same best practices should ultimately apply to all headings.
Crafting the perfect headline tags is about combining technical marketing finesse with sound creative writing capabilities. Keeping them short, relevant, punchy and specific, while using applicable keywords is key. Users tend to respond to headline tags that provide valuable information, answer their questions and maintain emotional appeal. Once you know what your SEO keywords are, focus on producing headline tags that sell what’s unique about your content and highlight the pain points you’re trying to address.
At Comrade, we help brands leverage the power of digital marketing and SEO to increase their leads and sales. If you want to find out more about headline tags and content marketing for your website, speak to one of our experts.
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