The writing process for your articles on your blog is different from when you write for a print newspaper, magazine, or book. The print world, even though greatly diminished since the rise of the digital age, still exists in a much smaller role today. So there are things that are unique and special to writing articles online that I would like to bring to your attention. This is why I say that at the very least, learn the basics of HTML because it is very important when structuring your articles for the search engines. I have written this article on the importance of knowing the heading tags in HTML for SEO. Even though this article will talk about creating article outlines, you should take a look at the article that I linked to so that you can understand how beneficial knowing HTML is. I am expanding on the heading tags in this article.
What Are Headings Tags In HTML?
Headings tags are used to give your article a sense of order and organization in your article. I highly recommend that you use this WordPress plugin that creates a table of contents for your articles using your heading tags. This plugin is great because it understands the hierarchy of the heading tags and creates sections and sub-sections and makes it very easy for your years to jump down to a section of your blog. You will need a table of contents to preview your article so that your users do not have to scroll so much to find the section that they are interested in reading.
Why Are Heading Tags Important?
Heading tags are important because they give your article space so that people can take breaks in reading your article. If you just have long paragraphs, one after another with no break in-between, your readers can get fatigued. No one wants to read a wall of text and smaller paragraphs are preferred over longer ones. Once you are ready to talk about something else, then you need to create a new section for your article. Or, at the very least, start a new paragraph.
Another reason why heading tags are important is because they tell search engines what your article is about. You need to make sure that you use your keywords in your headings because search engines prioritize that over keywords in your paragraphs. This is why if you search for your article’s headings in Google word-for-word, they have a high chance of showing up. Of course, everyone writes their headings differently and has a different writing style with different words that they like to use. I am just saying this as an example that you can try on the search engines.
Creating An Article Outline
You can use your favorite word processor to outline your article with your heading tags. Choose between Microsoft Word or Google Documents. I prefer Google Documents because it is free and Microsoft Office 365 costs money. When you start to write your articles, start with the article title. The article title is your <h1> tag and there can only be one on every page. Makes sense right, there should only ever be a single article title anyway. Why would you have more than one article title? If you want another article title, save that for your next article that you will write.
Organizing Your Content
After you come up with the article title, you need to think about all of the sections that you will write about. If you are telling a story where events happened in a certain order, then make sure to properly go from start to finish in chronological order. Do not write out of sequence and keep track of where you are at in your story. Article outlines are even more important in telling stories because your readers need to be able to know why your story is progressing a certain way and whether the events unfolding make sense or not.
Setting Up Your Keywords
Think about what keywords you want to use in your sections and subsections. You should place generic short keywords for your sections and then long-tail keywords for your subsectons. This will give you an opportunity to introduce a new section with a brief description that eases into your subsections. For each subsection, use a long-tail keyword that will delve into the section with more detail. This gives you the added benefit of writing more content while also targeting long-tail keywords that you have a better chance of ranking for on the search engines.
The Actual Article Outline With HTML Heading Tags
Now that I have set the stage with describing the process of outlining articles befriefly, I will present a template using this article as an example that you can use as guide to write your article:
- <h1>Creating an Article Outline for SEO: Leveraging HTML Heading Tags H1 to H6</h1>
- <h2>What Are Headings Tags In HTML?</h2>
- <h2>Why Are Heading Tags Important?</h2>
- <h2>Creating An Article Outline</h2>
- <h3>Organizing Your Content</h3>
- <h3>Setting Up Your Keywords</h3>
- <h2>The Actual Article Outline With HTML Heading Tags</h2>
When you create your article outline, you will not actually add the heading tags to your outline. I am just showing you this to clearly illustrate when to use what heading tag. For myself, I only use H1 to H3. The rest of the heading tags are getting a little too particular and I will explain why later. After each heading you will write your paragraphs, so I include the <p> paragraph tags so that the outline does not look so empty. Also, I am only using a part of this article to create the outline because I only need to show the H3 tags and that is sufficient.
How Do I Read Your Article Outline Template?
I just used an unordered list in Google Documents so that every heading can be indented. This makes it easy to read and see what the article title is, the sections and the subsections. When you create the outline for your own article. Your H1 article will be at the top of your article, centered and bolded. Then for H2 tags, you can go to the next line, left-justify and bold. For H3, format them the same way as H2 just with an indent.
What the Article Outline Will Actually Look Like In Your Article Without the HTML Tags
Here is what the article outline will look like when you write it out without the HTML heading tags. You can see that it looks exactly the same. I placed the heading tags in parenthesis just to make it easier to see in the outline. You actually will not need to do that because this is so simple to follow that I just did that as an extra step to illustrate my point better.
Creating an Article Outline for SEO: Leveraging HTML Heading Tags H1 to H6 (H1)
What Are Headings Tags In HTML? (H2)
Creating An Article Outline (H2)
Organizing Your Content (H3)
Setting Up Your Keywords (H3)
The Actual Article Outline With HTML Heading Tags (H2)
I took the paragraphs out from under each heading because you know that is where the content goes. I just wanted to condense the outline to make it as short as possible so that it does not go on forever. You will see that the outline without the heading tags looks similar to the HTML version. The outline without the heading tags uses the same indenting pattern. This is how you should structure your articles so that you will not only know what you are writing about but also to make sure that you have your keywords in place for Google.
Now that I have the article outline template in both with and without HTML heading tags, I will explain each of the heading tags and their significance.
H1 Tags: This Is Your Article and Page Title
As mentioned earlier, the H1 tags are your article title. You only have one of these per article and it is always at the top. Every article starts with a title. H1 tags have the highest value out of all of the heading tags so make it keyword rich and let it define the rest of your article. What I mean by that is, stay within the topic of your title. Try not to stray too far from the title as that defines the topic of the article. If you find yourself wanting to write off on a tangent, then consider saving that content for another article. After your H1 article title, you then move on to your H2 section tags and H3 subsection tags.
H2 Tags: These Are Your Article Sections
You notice that my article outline template indents the heading tags in a hierarchy. So there is one H1 tag at the top. Since there should only be one H1 tag per article, the next heading will automatically be an H2 tag. You will need to both create a new line in your outline and indent it to signify that H2 tags belong under a H1 tag. This establishes the heading hierarchy and ensures that you are now writing your sections for your article. Your H2 tags are akin to chapters in a book. Each section should be about a specific and clearly definable topic for your article. In other words, this section should only talk about this topic and not should be discussed in another section. Only when you are making references and relating your content together should you reference your sections again. This is to prevent both duplicate content and also going out of chronological order.
H3 Tags: These Are You Article Sub-sections
For every section, there can be subsections within that section. These subsections are your H3 tags. You notice that in my article outline template, that I indented H3 tags under the H2 tags. As you indent your heading tags more and more, the further your indent is, the less value the heading tag has. In this case, the H1 is worth the most in terms of how the search engines weigh the content in their. Then after H1 comes H2, then H3. So out of the first three heading tags, H3 holds the least amount of value.
Follow the Standard Order of Heading Tag Hierarchy
Know also that with heading tags, you must go in hierarchical order from H1 to H6. So you must have your H1 tags show up at the top first, then your H2 tags under the H1 tag, and then your H3 tags under your H2 tags. Staying within the confines of the predefined heading tag order makes your content easier to read for search engines.
Check Your Web Page Source and Verify that Heading Tags Show Up Properly
Most websites do not deviate from this standard and it would be really strange to see a H1 tag at the bottom of a page. Why would we see something weird like that on a web page? There are a lot of strange things that I have seen on web pages. I think that some people are not aware that the platform that they are using is doing weird stuff like that.
H4 to H6 Tags: Can Be Used But Not Necessary
I think that you can really stop at H3 tags, unless you want to go further. If you need to, then you can. You can go further down the heading tags and use H4, H5 and H6. These headings are useful if you want to delve even deeper than your H3 subsections. Some ideas include if you want to show examples or statistics, or just anything that only relates to your H3 subsections. Basically, what I am saying is that you should at least use up to H3. Going further than H3 is something that you need to make sure that it fits within your article and is not shoe-horned in. Do not feel that you have to use all of the heading tags from H1 to H6. If the opportunity arises, then use all of the heading tags. If not, then just stop at H3.
Writing an article outline is very important for defining your article and staying within the limits of the article’s topic. The outline gives you article structure, order and a way to plan your keyword for search engines. Use the HTML heading tags that range from H1 to H6. I recommend that every article that you write uses at least H1 to H3. A single H1 heading for your article title. Then H2 headings for sections and H3 headings for subsections. When using heading tags make sure to indent them properly so that you can remember to set them correctly when you add them to your blog. With the block editor in WordPress, it is very easy to assign the heading tags after you have placed your article in there.