On-Site SEO for Lawyers: Header Tags for Attorneys
Chris Dreyer | July 14, 2016
What Are Header Tags?
Headings (also referred to as header tags, headers, H1’s, 2’s, and 3’s) are the short strings of text that appear above page copy. In traditional publishing they are used to introduce content that is below them and their purpose is the same for content on the internet. Headings are a common web and publishing convention and they help readers more easily digest content. They also help search engines better understand the content they are about to crawl.
Here’s a traditional heading:
And here’s one on the internet:
Why Headings Are Important For SEO
Headings are an important part of onsite SEO because search engines use them as an indicator of what the content of a page is about. Their importance is determined by their number with H1 tags being the most important (and largest on the page) and H6 being the least important. There are a variety of ways search engines use heading tags to help users find good content.
- Relevance: When a search spider crawls a page, it compares the keywords in headings to those in page copy and looks for matches in relevance. If the heading is not relevant to the target keyword of the page, it can be a signal that the copy might not be relevant either.
- Keyword Consistency: Headings (along with other elements of a web page) help contribute to the consistency of the topic area of a page. For example if a page is about personal injury law as it relates to automobile accidents, the headings of the copy should be related to or contain that page’s target keyword phrase.
- UX: User experience has become a foundational component of SEO1. Search engines (especially Google) are looking harder than ever before at how people interact with web pages after they arrive from an SERP. If the experience isn’t good (as indicated by frequent bounces, slow page load times or broken links), the page is less likely to be served for future queries.
Best Practices for Header Tags
Here are some guidelines that attorneys should follow when generating headings.
- There should only be one H1 tag per page. Any additional headings should be wrapped in H2, H3, H4 or H5 and so on.
- Your headings should contain the target keyword phrase for the page.
- Don’t just use headings purely for SEO. Use them to make your content easier to read by making sure heading break up page content.
- Make sure headings accurately describe the content underneath them.
- Additional related or semantic keywords should be contained in sub-headings on a page (hint: lawyers can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to try and find related keywords2).
Here are some other best practices3 the might be helpful.
Making Page Headings
Headings are visible to users and are written with your page copy (that means they are like other words on the page). Depending on what lawyers are using to generate content on their website, headings can be written manually or they may be generated automatically.
Headings in WordPress
For lawyers using WordPress, H1 headings are automatically created by most themes using the title of the page. As long as the page’s target keyword phrase is in that title, no additional H1’s should be added. Here’s what that looks like in a typical WordPress setup.
Once a page is published, this is what that title would look like:
It is important to check that WordPress is actually creating an H1 tag out of your title. Some websites may be using them already, some may not and some may be using them improperly4. If it isn’t, you can create one yourself in the text editor for WordPress. This will also work in other CMSs that do not automatically generate an H1 tag.
In your post page simply toggle over from visual to text.
Then simply type in the phrase you want as your header and wrap it in an opening HTML header tag and closing HTML header tag like so.
Illustrated again here, this is the syntax (proper way to write HTML) for header tags. The lower the number, the larger the header appears on the page and the more important it is to search engines.
Headings are one of those SEO tasks that are not going to make your site sky-rocket to the first page of search results. They are considered a foundational element. Combined with many other smaller optimization tasks they can help a site perform much better in search.
1. https://selfstartr.com/search-marketing-ux2. https://www.attorneyrankings.org/