The Importance of Headings for Written Website Content
We only have a handful of seconds to get your attention!
All of our attention spans are very short, especially when we’re browsing online. If we don’t get the information we’re looking for quickly, then we search elsewhere.
Whether you are writing content for a new page on your website or writing an informative blog article, you need a reader’s attention.
One of the most effective tools for grabbing attention are headings. These are especially important for long content with 500+ words and a variety of information.
As a comparison, look at the newspaper image above for this article. As you can see, headings have always been vital for organizing written content. They help readers find what they’re interested in from your content.
Headings help with making content more readable and accessible. Lastly, headings can improve the SEO for a page. We will review each benefit in more detail below.
We don’t typically read a full article or web page in full. For the sake of time, we start by scanning through content and pay more attention to pictures and headings. When we’ve found a section of the content we’re interested in, we’ll then read the paragraph text for more information.
Headings play a significant role in making our content more readable. Breaking an article or web page up into smaller chunks makes it far easier on our eyes. We discuss the different heading sizes and their uses in a separate article.
When readers have a positive experience, our website is suddenly a reputable source in their eyes. If they find what they’re looking for, they may return in the future, tell friends about us or become customers.
Content accessibility is another important factor for website content. Ontario’s provincial government has set laws in place for websites to reach a certain level of accessibility. The levels fall in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Some users with disabilities rely on organized HTML to read and navigate online. When we consider what a website is, it’s just a lot of text within a structured HTML code.
Screen-readers are standard tools for people with visual impairments. As the name suggests, these read web pages according to their raw text. Screen reading software relies on headings to quickly navigate a page so the reader can determine which parts they’d like to hear. Without headings in place, a screen-reader will be forced to read the entire page word-by-word. This can be a frustrating experience for someone visually impaired.
There are two main ways that headings can help improve a page’s SEO.
The first is keywords in headings. These have a small impact on SEO, but it’s worth mentioning. Search engines weigh the words in headings slightly more than the words within paragraphs. The weights vary between headings, with H1 being the greatest and H6 being the lowest.
More importantly, headings impact a page’s SEO by improving user experience. Search engines like Google know how often people are bouncing away from each web page. This is called a bounce rate. When a bounce rate is high, it can negatively impact the website’s ranking. This causes the website to show up lower in search results in comparison to websites with similar information.
A high bounce rate is indicative that users aren’t finding what they’re looking for when they visit a website. When headings make content more readable, it becomes far easier for users to see what they’re looking for.
Yoast, a credible SEO software company, gives more details on how headings improve SEO.
Next time you write some website content, put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re writing for. Your information needs to be organized, accessible and easy to read. Using headings can make a big difference in grabbing a reader’s attention and leading them to the information they’re seeking.