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Website SEO Checkup: Headlines

Here’s how to check headlines on your website. It’s something you can do during quarantine downtime

Why is this important? Headlines are very important to accessibility, and they play a role in search engine optimization (SEO).

Quick Explanation: Heading tags are in the code of websites. The tags are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. They should

  • organize the content, especially for screen readers
  • have keywords that are relevant to the content on the page

If you know how to check these in the software you use (WordPress for example), use that software. Add and edit the keywords if needed.

Universal Headline Check

Here’s a way to see the H tags using any computer or mobile device.

  1. Go to https://validator.w3.org/
  2. Type or copy-paste the address of the page you’re checking into the Address field.
  3. Click More Options.
  4. Select Show Outline.
  5. Click Check.
W3 Validator Form

Next, scroll down to the Heading-level outline in the results. This validator tool shows errors and warnings, but they’re not important for checking headlines. Ignore the warnings and errors.

W3 Validator Results showing Heading-level outline

If you don’t see this section, make sure you selected the option Show Outline.

Important Advantage: The W3 Validator shows all the headlines on a page including those in the header and footer.

WordPress with Gutenberg Headline Check

On WordPress using the Gutenberg editor for a page or post, find the headline outline under the “i” icon near the top.

Important Shortcoming: This shows only headline blocks in the content of a page. It excludes the header, footer, and headlines created by shortcodes.

Click the “i” icon to see the Document Outline.

WordPress Gutenberg Content Structure, Document Outline and heading tags

Keywords in Heading is First Priority

First, these headlines should have keywords. That’s what’s most important about headlines and SEO. Edit your page or have your web editor add some keywords if you think they’re lacking.

Heading Organization is Important but Not Critical

Google says headlines should be nested like an outline. If you can, do this. But this is not critical to SEO.

Find more details in our blog post about organizing headings.

Bonus: Updated Page

I think Google gives a slight bump to pages and sites that are recently updated. Making a small change might-could give you a .0001% boost… that is, a minor boost.