Headings create an outline for a page and help users identify different sections in the text. When arriving at a new page, one of the first things a user will do is quickly scan over the headings and subheadings to decide what content is relevant to them.
What Is a Semantic Structure?
When it comes to a webpage, there is an order to the way you should use headings in HTML. There are six levels of heading tags used to structure content, starting with heading 1 (<h1>) which is most important, through to a heading 6 (<h6>). A semantic structure is when you use these tags in the correct order of hierarchy to display content. Creating headings in a semantic way not only benefits the user by improving readability, but it can also benefit search engine visibility.
How to create a semantic structure with heading tags
An H1 tag should be your main page title as it is the main focus for the post or page. Most CMS’s such as WordPress add the H1 tag automatically to the title of a blog post.
As you write your content, H2 tags are used for subheadings to introduce different sections and break down content into easier to read sections.
These sections may also need more specific headings which is where h3, h4, h5 and h6 tags come in. However, going past an h4 tag is considered rare, unless you are writing a very in-depth and text-heavy page of content.
How does a semantic structure affect Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
Not only does a semantic structure benefit the user, it also helps SEO. Search engines use headings to identify the most relevant parts of your content, as well as indexing the structure.
Using a semantic structure creates text of higher quality which is easier for users to read. When content is high quality it benefits your SEO.
If users can’t find the right content, they will leave the page, increasing the bounce rate. Search engines will notice the high bounce back rate and this may impact rankings.
Using headings correctly by including a semantic structure can make a big impact on readability and search engine visibility. Now you have the knowledge, see how this affects your analytics and user engagement.