What Are Page Headers and How to Optimize Them

By Lisa


Category: SEO

What is a web page header?

A header is a type of HTML tag which helps both users and search engines interpret what the topic of an entire page is, and the context of specific sections of that page. You can think of headers like taking notes from a textbook. Imagine you’re on Chapter 4: Email clients. And there are 3 sections to that chapter: Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail.

Email clients would be your top-level header (h1) and you wouldn’t have any more of these until you made it to the next chapter (web page).

Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail would be subheaders (h2’s).

This format helps readers (crawlers) understand “This page is about email clients and this section of the page is about Gmail”.

There are 6 headers (h1, h2, h2, etc) but we’ll be focusing on h1’s and h2’s.

Why it’s important:

  • H1’s specifically are one of the top on-page ranking factors for Google
  • Headers allow users and crawler tos determine what a page is about

How to change headers

Changing headers can be dependant on how your WordPress theme is set up. Some themes will allocate the page title (see images below) as the h1, whereas others do not.



If you’re unsure whether your page title is an h1 or not, follow the steps below.

    1. Navigate to the front end of your webpage


    1. Highlight the phrase that’s within your page title. In this case “Sample Page”. Right click, and click “inspect”.headers


  1. This will open the inspector panel and bring you to the section which contains the highlighted phrase. If you see an “<h1…” like you do in the image below, then your page title is your h1.headersIf your h1 is within your page title then for your h1’s you’ll just need to type within the box. Otherwise, you’ll create h1’s the same way you do h2’s.headers


Working a keyword into your homepage h1 is nice but what you want to do is place your selling point or why you’re in business.

“Defending those that others wouldn’t”

“Serving [city]’s community for 50 years”

Depending on your WordPress theme, the h1 for the homepage may be a bit tricky to find. Your homepage may also be within the index.php file.


For your practice area pages, we’re going to leverage the h1’s and h2’s to use as a combination. The general format goes like this:

Imagine this is a personal injury practice area page based in Boston, MA.

H1: Personal Injury
H2: Boston, MA Personal Injury Lawyer

This works in the keyword ‘personal injury’ twice in a natural way without creating a bulky h1. The following is how doing this in WordPress looks.

Getting Geeky: Advanced tips

  • Every webpage should only have 1 h1. There can be exceptions, see below but it’s geeky!
    • To test how many h1’s your webpage has you can run your website through a crawler like Screaming Frog or right click >> view source >> CMD/CTR+F and then type (no quotes) “<h1” and see the count.
  • For websites that run on HTML5, multiple h1’s can be acceptable due to HTML tags like <section> which tell crawlers that this is a new section of the webpage. While this is technically OK – most SEOs still use the 1 per page rule.

Common Mistakes

  • Having multiple h1s on a webpage
  • Headers that lack keywords
  • Marking up an image as a header
  • Not having an h1
  • Not using the h1/h2 combination to your advantage
  • Keyword stuffing headers

Additional notes

  • Every page should have an unique h1
  • If your title tag has ‘lawyer’ then your h2 should have ‘attorney’ and vise versa
  • Do not repeat your title tag within your page copy

Additional Resources

  • W3Schools’ Guide to Headings: http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_headings.asp
  • Yoast’s Guide: https://yoast.com/headings-use/
  • Moz’s On-Page Guide: https://moz.com/learn/seo/on-page-factors
  • Torque’s Guide to Headings:  http://torquemag.io/2015/08/WordPress-heading-tags/

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