B2B Articles - July 13, 2013

Improving Header Tags and Body Copy in Websites for SEO

Search engines can be an important source of traffic for marketing campaigns and websites.

The study of SEO is important for both marketing agencies and web design firms. Search engines ultimately have two major roles: crawling & building an index of web content, and offering answers by determining relevancy.

Over the 15 plus years that web search has existed, search marketers have found methods to extract information about how the search engines rank pages.  -Moz

This article provides some general guidelines for working with headings and body copy for websites and web content from an SEO perspective.


The HTML heading tag is different from the title element of a web page, but both elements help describe and categorize a web page. The heading tag is a visible part of the web page, whereas the web page title is visible within a browser tab or search result listings--but not on the web page.

There is no precise agreement on the exact importance of the heading element (H1, H2, H3), but these heading elements are used to label a page and state what the page is about. The highest weighted element is the H1 header, which should be unique per page. The importance is reduced with descending numbers--H1 is more important than H5, but each header helps to provide structure and acts as a labeling system for a web page.

SEO Tips for working with HTML header tags

  • Use keywords that reinforce the main theme of your page
  • Do not over-use or stuff keywords into header tags
  • Always consider the reader and the quality... engagement is a powerful factor in search rankings... write for humans and use header tags to improve user experience
  • Prioritize your keywords for each web page. Create a stacking order, and make sure your keywords have a conceptual relationship.
  • <H1> tags should utilize your most important keywords and must relate to the page content and page title. The <H1> tag tells search engines what your page is about, and it has a relationship with the page title.
  • Sub-headings (<H2>, <H3>, <H4>) should also relate to the page content but can focus on longer tail or lesser important keywords.
  • Sub-headings help provide page structure and describe the page content to search engines.
  • For longer articles, use header tags to break up content to improve user experience and flow

SEO Tips for working with body copy

  • Great content is vital for SEO
  • Provide value to your target audience... don't waste time trying to trick search robots
  • Headers and sub-headers need to match and relate to your body copy
  • The ideal page length is longer than 150 words and should be original content, although quoting external sources is certainly allowed
  • Short, ephemeral web pages do not typically do well in search engine rankings
  • Study the length of body copy for competitor high-ranking pages to help determine where the bar is set
  • Create content that engages users and encourages users to share, Like, +1, and recommend your content to their networks
  • Engagement and track-backs can help an SEO writer optimize their content. Using analytics and social tracking tools can provide visibility into the performance of your web content--helping to identify the stickiness or how shareable content is.
  • Keywords used in header tags should be reflected in the body copy, and these keywords should occur naturally--don't force keywords into your content
  • Improve the visual presentation of your content using images or interactive web design elements
  • Use ALT text for images in your body content
  • Consider using singular and plural versions of your keywords where appropriate for increased visibility in search
  • Make sure your content is easily readable--designing web content is not the same as designing content for print publications
  • Help structure your content with text attributes such as bold, bullet lists, italic, etc where appropriate, which is good for SEO and readership

More tips on how to write SEO-friendly content

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