In the early stages of SEO, header tags are the key factors of ranking. All the keywords should be in H1’s to achieve ranking. During those days, google use to focus only on a keyword-based search string. Hence including keywords in header tags played a prominent role in keyword ranking.
That doesn’t stay longer, days have changed, and SEO techniques have updated according to Google algorithms. Still, some companies use the keywords in H1, H2, H3…. as a common practice. Even though it’s not useful, people still use the keywords in the H1 or H2 because it became a habit. It became common practice or a basic norm to start optimizing a webpage but not thinking how useful it is. Analyze, and have a look at some of the top-ranking sites for a specific keyword, they are less likely to find the keywords in header tags.
John Muller from Google has explained how header tags work in SEO. He explained clearly how and what’s the best way to use H1, H2, H3… tags.
Muller started his explanation stating that it’s a wrong assumption, merging the keywords in the headings of a webpage in the belief that H1, H2, H3… are the key ranking factor in SEO. He also told, that according to, google algorithm headings are also a part of the content. According to the Google Algorithm, the meaning of the text never changes even though it is in the H1. The headings represent the context of the topic. It is an outdated belief that header tags are key SEO elements in ranking factors. Over that, people use to think that H1 has more importance than H2, and H2 stands one step ahead than H3, and so on. Considering H1 as the highest importance header tag and H6 as the least one, people use to classify their keywords. People use to follow the thumb rule blindly, the most prominent keywords included in the heading should be applied with H1 tag and the lease with low-level header tags. This approach will not longer help in ranking.
Headings always represent the context of a paragraph. Specifically, H1, H2… help search engines understand what the content is describing. They help search engines to categorize and index the pages accordingly. Hence keywords are not required to rank, and it’s not at all a ranking factor these days. Thinking blindly that your page is ranking better because of the keywords included in the H1 or H2 is a wrong assumption. It’s time for us to understand that search engines can understand the content in a better way. Using header tags for the heading makes Google understand the content precisely. So, Google can list out the page in SERPs to provide accurate information to the user for the given search query.
Muller finally concluded, saying that there is a minute difference need to understand. We should understand the difference in the results shown in SERP. There might be a slight change in the results when keywords included in the header tag and when not included in the header tag. We are successful when Google understands the content better with the heading and ranking better for our expected keywords. It is clear from Google that, including keywords in heading and applying header tag will not improve ranking. Hence, going forward, please focus on the heading which apt the content but not just try to add the keywords.
Finally, Keywords included in the headings and applying header tags are not necessary to gain ranking. They are not at all a ranking factor. Headings are representing the context of the content. Header tags are for the communication purpose to make google understand our content. Using header tags will help google to categorize our content while indexing.