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What is the purpose of heading tags?

A website can be compared to a book, where the sitemap serves as the table of contents. Just like books consist of chapters, websites consist of pages. Both chapters and web pages contain paragraphs and sub-paragraphs, which are marked with headings for clarity. On web pages, these headings are referred to as heading tags, indicated in the source code by the HTML codes <h1> to <h6>. These heading tags help website visitors scan and find what they are looking for faster, while also communicating to Google what the contents of the page are about.

How are heading tags used?

Heading tags are levels in the structure of a web page, with the <h1> tag by default serving as the page title. There should therefore only be one <h1> tag per web page. Then levels can be created with <h2> tags, and sublevels with <h3> to <h6> tags. <h1> and <h2> tags should appear on every web page; the usage of <h3> to <h6> tags is optional. The most important thing is that heading tags are used according to the standard paragraph structure. So for what would normally be paragraph 1.1 and subsection 1.1.1, you respectively use <h2> and <h3> tags. To give you an idea of what that might look like:

<h1>Title</h1>

<h2>Paragraph 1</h2>

<h2>Paragraph 2</h2>

<h3>Paragraph 2.1</h3>

<h4>Section 2.1.1</h4>

<h3>Paragraph 2.2</h3>

<h4>Section 2.1.2</h4>

<h2>Paragraph 3</h2>

In this example the levels are also indicated by indentations, to show you that a <h1> tag is never directly followed by a <h3> tag.

What value does Google assign to heading tags?

Although the value that Google attributes to heading tags may vary over time, the <h1> tag is always the most important heading tag on a page. It summarises the content of the page and should contain the main keyword. Next, Google looks at the <h2> tags, suggesting that especially the first few <h2> tags are assigned the most value. For the other tags (<h3> to <h6>) this value decreases. This is not to say that you shouldn’t use them, as they can actually greatly improve the user experience!

How to use our heading tag checker

With our heading tag checker, you can test whether your heading tags have been implemented correctly. Even if you are sure they have been, you may still have accidentally used an <h3> tag instead of an <h2>, or forgotten the closing / in the HTML code.

When you enter a URL in our heading tag checker, you will be shown the <h1> tag of your page plus the contents of the other heading tag levels. This way, you get an instant overview of your HTML code, as well as an easy way to check what your paragraph titles have to say about your web page. So that if necessary, you can easily adjust them.

Using heading tags to change the style of your headings?

Some web developers work with a CMS that automatically assigns a certain look and style to the different heading tags. In that case, you might prefer the look of an <h3> tag over that of an <h2> tag and just decide not to use <h2> tags, skipping straight to <h3> (or <h4>, <h5>, <h6>) tags. Don’t do this! Heading tags are not meant to be used as formatting elements. They are pieces of code that tell Google what a page is about, and as mentioned before, the <h2> tag is the second most important heading tag after the <h1> tag. Therefore, it simply cannot be skipped without confusing Google. Are you using a CMS and are you looking for ways to change the look of your heading tags? Don’t just go with an <h3> tag in your CMS to solve this issue, but rather use CSS to style your headings as you see fi