Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization

Writing for tags and tags

The Key to Optimized Content: Heading and Paragraph Tags

In my recent post “How Important is Written Content on a Website?“,  I said that Google encourages well-organized content using the heading and paragraph tags. It’s worth filling in some detail.

HTML Tags

Web pages are made of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) tags mostly hidden from visitors. When you write content for the web, you should understand two important tags: heading tags and paragraph tags.  Even if you only write content and don’t create web pages, these tags are important offering several advantages.

  • Consistent Appearance Throughout Your Site
    When heading and paragraph tags are used, text styles can easily apply to all pages. It keeps the appearance of your text consistent throughout your site.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Search engines use heading tags to find headlines and the important words on your site.
  • Usability
    When your words are organized and have a consistent appearance, it’s easier for visitors to scan your pages and find information.
  • Site-Wide Updates with Cascading Style Sheets
    CSS is the current standard for designing and updating the appearance of web sites. It makes for faster page load, site-wide consistency and easy updates.

Writing for Heading and Paragraph Tags

Heading tags (<h1>, <h2> up to <h6>) begin sections and subsections of written content. They are usually displayed as headlines.

Paragraph tags (<p>) create areas of regular text, you know, paragraphs. They are usually displayed as blocks of smaller text below headlines.

Use One Top-Level Heading per Page

For Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the top-level heading tag (<h1>) is most important. Search engines give more weight to this headline.

You should have only one top-level heading per page. This is not a strict rule, but it’s a good rule of thumb for the content of a page.

Subsections Should Use Heading 2-6

After the first headline, other heading tags mark subsections of a page. They are sub-topics of the main headline for the page.

Include Keywords in Headings

Include a few important keywords  in your headlines. Search engines give a little more weight to text in heading tags.

Keyword
Any word or phrase your customers use when searching for your company, product or service on a search engine.

Headlines for People

Aside from SEO, headlines are important in any advertising copy.

Most people scan web pages and read the headlines. Some read more, but almost everybody reads the top headlines.

Here’s what advertising legend David Ogilvy said about headlines.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

—David Ogilvy

Headlines are important for visitors, not just search engines. They should be compelling, intriguing or useful to your target audiences.

Paragraphs

Under any headline, paragraphs provide information relevant to the headline.

Organize Content in an Outline

If possible, organize page content in an outline like this. (The indentation below is included to better show the subsections. It’s not meant for regular use on websites.)

Top Level Headline (Formatted with <h1>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to the main subject of the page.

Second Level Headline (formatted with <h2>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the main subject of the page.

Third Level Headline (formatted with <h3>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related  to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the second level headline.

Third Level Headline (formatted with <h3>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the second level headline.

Second Level Headline (formatted with <h2>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the main subject of the page.

Third Level Headline (formatted with <h3>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the second level headline.

You can use headings 1 to 6, nesting each subsection within higher level sections.

This outline format is not super critical, but for all the reasons listed above, it’s a good practice when you can.

Keyboard Written Content

How Important is Written Content on a Website?

A client recently asked a question like this: “How important are the specific words on a website?” I didn’t have a quick answer because there are conflicting factors at play, especially for a small business. Here’s the full answer.

Any Word Could Be Important

I’m about to say that the exact wording isn’t top priority, but I want to first point out how the exact wording can be important.

Professional copywriters study and practice the craft of saying things in the perfect way. Every word counts

For instance, should you say “for 15 years” or “since 1999”? According to David Ogilvy in “Ogilvy on Advertising”, it depends on your audience. If your audience is old enough to remember the year, the number of years (15 years) year seems more distant in the past. If your audience is not old enough to remember the year, the exact year (1999) seems more distant. That book was written in 1985, so today I think the turn of the century makes a difference. I think since we’re in 2014, years from the 1900’s seem more distant.

Any detail like that could be important in website copy. At a large scale, any detail could change the response enough that you should care about every detail.

Small Business Websites – Content is Important in a Different Way

For small businesses, the exact wording is important, but often perfect isn’t required. It can take a long time to work out the perfect phrasing of every page. That time costs money. Generally, small businesses won’t see a return on a big investment in perfect copy.

Wording is still important. You want to be positive, highlighting the benefits of your company and services. The style should fit the business. The writing should be grammatically correct with correct spelling and punctuation.

But it doesn’t have to be word-smithed like a high-dollar, national advertising campaign. Small businesses can benefit from a website with relevant content, even if it’s not perfect.

Keywords in the Titles, Headlines and Copy

On any website keywords are important. And by “keyword” I mean any word or phrase your customers use when searching for your company, product or service.

Search engines use the content of sites when creating search engine results pages (SERPs). So it’s very important that keywords be included in the HTML titles, headlines (specifically in HTML headline tags) as well as in the paragraphs. In fact, Google encourages well-organized content using the headline tags and paragraphs.

Content Quality and Quantity

Generally, the more content, the better the Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but quality is also important. The major search engines want to provide relevant, quality results, so they also screen for quality and sometimes penalize sites that overly repeat keywords or have low-quality, black-hat content.

So good content is important. Organized content is important. And a base quantity of content is important. But the precise wording…well, it’s important, but for most small businesses, there’s a low point of diminishing returns on the effort to create perfect copy.

Be positive. Use correct grammar and spelling. Create content relevant to your audience and business. After that, tweak and perfect the content based on your time, resources and potential return on the costs.