Correct Use of header tags - H1, H2, H3

What are header tags? They are simply paragraph headings and they are very important to SEO, as search engine spiders check them to help decide which keyterms the page is relevant for. H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6 header tags also make things easier for the reader to quickly find the information that they are looking for on your web page.

Correct use of H1 Header Tag

The top heading on your page should always us the H1 header element and it should be the only instance of the H1 header tag on the page. On this page, the H1 tag is Correct Use of header tags - H1, H2, H3. Again, as covered in the previous two day’s articles on Page Titles and Description meta tags, the Keyterms that are used in the H1 header tag, are also used in the page title and the description tag, keeping the optimisation on-focus.

When to use H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6 Header Tags

A  page should never be long enough to warrant using H5 and H6 tags - so for optimisation purposes, the H tags you will use are H1 to H4.

When using header tags correctly, after the H1 tag, the next header element used should be the H2 - Don’t ever jump from H1 to H3- The search engine spiders need to see a natural progression down the page. That doesn’t mean you cannot have more than one H2 tag; there is no issue if the progression goes H1, H2, H2, H3, H3, H4. Simply use the headings to separate subjects related to the importance of the information, as you would naturally do when writing any information page:

H1 This is the main thing I’m optimising for and the overall introduction to the content of the page.
P Paragraph
H2 This is the most important aspect of the subject of this page
P Paragraph
H3 You should also be aware of this
P Paragraph
P Paragraph
H4 and finally….

Forming Header Tags Correctly

When writing your H tags, keep them as short and succinct as possible. Each word in the heading is important, so don’t lose relevance by using too many pointless words. To give you an example, I could have called this H4 header tag, Be careful when forming head tags, they need to be used correctly. That’s 12 words and in the search engine spider’s eyes each of those words carries 8.33% importance. (12 x 8.33% = 100%) If someone searches for forming head tags correctly, four of these words are included in the 12 word header tag, making it 33% relevant for the term. The H4 tag I used was Forming Head Tags Correctly, which has 100% relevancy for the term.

As another example; if someone types in Forming head tags to a search engine, my H4 tag is 75% relevant and the 12 word one is only 24.99% relevant. Calculating keyword percentages is taking SEO to professional standards, but all you really have to know is to keep your header tags short and succinct.

That’s it - always use H tags, use only one H1 tag, feature them progressively down the page and keep them short and succinct!

11 Responses to “Correct Use of header tags - H1, H2, H3”

Darren Halford Says:


I heard you on the Jeremy Vine show and decided to look you up because you offered a straightforward, simple approach to the topic of web optimisation. Unfortunately the BBC didn’t give you enough time to get all your points across. Luckily I made a note and found you via Google (top of the page!)

Just wanted to say you might be keen to know there are a few spelling mistakes on the your pages. I don’t want to sound picky but I think you guys do a great job and I imagine you’re always looking to improve your site.

For example; at the top of the page in the paragraph under Correct Use of H1 Header Tag you missed out a letter E in the second line so it reads: Correct Us of Header Tags.

Hope you don’t mind me mentioning this. I’d be happy to sub-edit your site (that’s my profession) if you’d be happy to give me some help on a blog I want to set up about oral hygiene. Let me know if you are interested. Once again, keep up the good work.

Thanks for the kind words Darren and for pointing out the spelling error in the blog. Spelling errors crop up from time to time, usually because the spellchecker misses something like “us” instead of “use” - but at least we had three visitors for correct us of header tags, from other people who can’t spell “use” as well! I’ve corrected the errors now, thanks. Thanks for the kind barter offer Darren, but we’ll simply be more careful in future. The most important thing is the search engine positions and we sometimes deliberately spell a word incorrectly on a page, (once), if it is a regularly misspelt by searchers, just to pick up the positions. I realise that a page that is littered with incorrect spellings can turn potential clients away, but if you have a site and you have one mistake on the page, it’s unlikely to lose you business.

harry s. Says:

why should there be only one h1-element (it’s not a tag, it’s an element)? is this a seo-thing? semantically it makes absolutely no sense, unless you mistake it as title, which is an element in it self. First of all, Harry, I learned HTML back in the days before little college boys went to learn coding from someone that had failed in the real world and had to fall back on teaching plooky little smart-asses, who don’t have the gumption to learn HTML themselves. Plooky little smart-arses that don’t even know basic English punctuation. The start of a sentence has a capital letter son! An H1 tag is a tag. It always has been a tag and if the loser that is teaching you HTML is telling you otherwise, he’s a twat! The article quite clearly tells you why you should use one H1 tag, but have a look at what W3schools says about it and stop wasting your time and mine.

mas raden Says:

then on the html where H1, H2, H3 was in place? I am still confused about the application on the blog. Sorry, I don’t understand what you are asking. Please try to write your question more clearly. BM

Mark Gabel Says:

Great article and such clarity on the H tags. Who knew it could be that simple. Wish you would have spent more time on relevancy calculations, seems to me that this would certainly put the icing on the cake. Thanks again!!

Mark Gabel

Anthony Says:

For better SEO, It’s better a styled css big text puted inside a DIV or a H1 tag ?
Which of this influences more, to get ranked higher?

Your H1 should be your first, main heading. Your paragraph content should feature inside a P tag. If this isn’t what you are asking, can you phrase your question in a clearer manner, so I can more easily understand? Thanks BM

Chet Stentiford Says:

I continually attempt to add h1 and h2 tags,however they always appear in HTMl as “Header1 or Header2 tags instead, therefore not found by browsers…Is there a way to change this? Chet, looking at your site, I can’t really see anywhere that you would benefit from H1 tags anyway, as the content isn’t laid out in a traditional way and the only “Headings” that you have, on your About us page, are not optimised for anything anyway, so making them H1 or H2 tags wouldn’t make much difference to your search rankings anyway. It looks like an old site, so you may be using an old cms system that doesn’t allow H tags, but if it’s not a CMS, I can see no reason why an H tag written correctly, would appear in the source code as anything other than an H tag. How are you entering them? In viewing your site, I note that you have spammed your Page title and Meta Description and you have a large spammy Keyword meta tag, (which Google doesn’t use to rank the site anymore, and hasn’t for used for years.) I also note that your text is all bold and much of your text is in CAPITAL LETTERS. This is seen as shoting by both Google and people viewing the site. You also have a strange link (that doesn’t link anywhere) to at the top of your site, above the header graphic, which is offputing when someone visits your site.
Your biggest issue, however, is that you have put your google analytics code in the wrong place and when a search engine spider comes to your site, it can’t read your docttype, etc, because of it. You need to move it either into the Head or where we put it, just before the closing body tag. There are many issues with your site, but if you sort the few that I have mentioned, in particular, move the Google code, you will stand a better chance than you currently do in the search engines. Be well, BM :)

Chet Stentiford Says:

Thank you for your generous offer of time in viewing my site..I did make the changes you mentioned, I hope LOL… Sincerely, Chet Stentiford You are most welcome, BM :)

Samuel Shaw Says:

Thanks for sharing your knowledge..Its all been a slow learning process for me. I built my own website with Iweb. I am a tattoo artist that specializes in many forms of tattooing.. I am learning how to properly use my h1 and h2 tags.. Would it be wrong for me to enter all the styles of tattooing I do in my H1 tag.. (12 keywords)
I am using the bulk of RageSW tools like. Iweb Seo Tool and SEIntelligence.. Seems some of the things in SEIntelligence contridict what I am learning with h1 and h2 tags
Thank you See article under the heading “Forming header tags correctly” BM

Hans Says:

Your article is of great help. But I have one more question. Is it possible to use the H2 tag again after H3. This sequence would look something like this: H1, H2, H3, H2, H3, H2, H3, H4. The main point here is that I’m explaining how musical scales work and there are 3 of them. Each scale I write about would have a main heading with a subheading, thus repeating H2 and H3 three times. Or If you have some time you can check this page out at “Music Theory - Songs in Ab, Db and Gb major”.

Thanks for your help in advance, Hope to hear from you soon, Hans. Yes Hans, using the H2 and H3 in this way is not an issue at all. BM

Kashif Fareed Says:

Can you please review my website for SEO aspects whether i apply right approach or not.
I can offer you a site review service. If you care to email me from your website email address and not from a gmail address, I’d be happy to quote you for this service.
I quickly looked at your website ( and I can immediately tell you that you have an issue with load speeds, as the top banner still hasn’t opened, after 3 minutes. We only deal with UK companies and although you state that you are UK based, your address is a well known address registration service in Regent Street and the spelling on your website content is not written in UK English, it is written in American English. Your domain name is also registered in Pakistan and your server does not appear to be based in the UK. Are you really based in the UK? BM

Wayne Pruner Says:

Thanks for the simple explaination.

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