Imagine reading an encyclopedia with no headings.
I’m talking text only – start to finish.
Aardvark to Zyzzyva.
(Apparently that’s a real thing. Some sort of scrabble-winningly named weevil).
No headings. No subheadings.
I call disaster.
Think about trying to find the Gorilla listing.
You’d have to trawl through to about a quarter of the way through. Find the G entries. Keep skim reading all of the content until you finally find what you’re looking for.
No index, no contents, no bold headings to catch your eye.
It’d be easier to book a flight to Rwanda, scope out some silverbacks and find out what they’re all about for yourself. This young lass has the idea.
My point? Headings matter.
They’re a bit like parents. They can be really useful, exceptionally boring, condescending or strangely intriguing. You take them for granted, but when they’re gone, you’re lost.
Search engines need headings for the same reasons we do. They quickly explain what your content is about, they set an expectation for what is to come and they break up your content into more specific miniature topics.
If you don’t use keywords in your headings, Google’s going to find it mighty difficult to know what it is you’re talking about. It’s less likely they’ll recommend your work to potential customers.
For ecommerce marketers this is even more important. You have lots more pages, lots more content and (I hope) lots more headings.
We’ve got the goods on managing your ecommerce headings so that Google and friends bring you more customers from search engine results.
Optimising your Headings (H1 and H2 tags)
H1 and H2 tags are used for the headings and sub headings of each page on your site. H1 tags are the most influential for SEO purposes, explaining the context of your title to the bots crawling your site. Search engines place progressively less importance on each subsequent tag (H2, H3, H4).
Treat a H1 as the theme for your page. Where you can, use your core keywords in your H1 heading. We advise you to write your title or headline with your audience in mind. Try to work in your keywords afterwards, but make sure things still make sense to a visitor reading your content.
Like anything else, when you come up with H1 tags, or page headings, customer #1, Google #2.
H2’s are great for secondary or supporting keywords. Use H2 tags for your sub headings to break up sections of content.
Ideally, your ecommerce headings should look like this:
Headline that includes main keywords
Subheading with some supporting keywords
Try to use a variation on your primary keyword in your secondary H2 headings. If you use a different, ‘long tail’ keyword, you have a chance to rank for a different, specific keyword.
A practical ecommerce onpage optimisation example
Let’s have a look at this blog post from Cell Bikes, a super Australian online bike retailer. The guys at Cell are doing some great content marketing work with their blog, and this post is an ideal example:
Let’s grill their headings optimisation
“Cell Bikes Akuna 1.1 Review”
- The brand name (Cell Bikes) provides authority and makes it clear to Google where this content is coming from.
- The ‘Akena 1.1 Review’ part – well it makes perfect sense to a customer and a search engine to describe the nature of the content. It’s specific and it’s a term a potential customer might use if they were looking to research a purchase of this model.
Unfortunately, there is only one subheading (or H2 tag) used in the article. That means, Google has no real secondary pointers to determine what is covered in this Akuna 1.1 review. The subhead used is generic, with no context for a search engine crawler:
“So who is this bike for”
Noone is searching for info on bikes, or the Akuna 1.1, using a term similar to this.
Straight up, something like
“Who should buy the Akuna 1.1 road bike?”
would work better, right?
The content still works for the reader. There’s no SEO spaminess forced from the keyword used.
Also, we’ve told Google a little more about the nature of this piece of content. When someone searches buy Akuna 1.1 Road Bike, you’ve got yourself a pretty good match.
You’re not doubling down on your original keyword, instead you’re giving yourself the chance to rank for another similar, specific term.
If you’re thinking about your customer, you’d understand that someone using the keyword ‘buy Akuna 1.1 Road Bike’ is pretty close to their purchase point.
Sure a review might interest them, but you want your bike in their cart ASAP. So, link the subheading off to your product page.
(This article from one of the best in the Conversion Rate Optimising business – Impact Branding, shows you why linking from your subheadings could be much more important than you’d think. Hat tip to Marketing Director John Bonini for the wisdom.)
By using this link, you’re showing Google that you have other relevant content for the searcher.
The anchor text you’ve used (the text you highlight to be linked) is also perfectly optimised with the right keyword to add to Google’s rep for your product page.
The content marketing benefits of heading optimisation
As the yellow jersey holder in cycling content marketing, Cell’s product pages are choc full of all the info you could possibly want to help you make the buy decision.
In fact, they have a visual graphic and a link to the Akuna 1.1 review on their product page. This will familiarise the reader with their surroundings – they know where they’ve come from to get here.
Turning our attention back to the blog post, the content is rich, detailed and exceptionally helpful for readers. The post is 2157 words long, and although the copy is broken up by some fantastic images, some more explanatory subheads would make the readers job a whole lot easier.
Here’s a couple more specific long tail keyword variations Cell Bikes could work into subheadings for this post to help their readers and their rankings:
- How to assemble the Akuna 1.1
- Design and Features of the Akuna 1.1
- What to expect from riding the Akuna 1.1
- Pro’s and Con’s of the Akuna 1.1
Using these subheads helps break up the text and allows readers to easily find specific info that interests them. Remember, we need to think customer 1st, Google 2nd. Optimise your content for customers, then search engines.
The SEO benefits of these subheadings is clear. You suddenly have a chance for Google to rank your content for these specific long tail keywords. There will be less competition as the keywords are more specific.
As a bonus, those using these specific terms are more informed, more engaged and presumably closer to making a purchase decision. With 5 minutes worth of editing, you can give yourself a chance of bringing in a small bunch of red hot leads.
If you’ve still got questions or you’re not sure how to use keywords in your ecommerce content, we’ve written a whole post on the specific keyword research considerations for online stores. We explain how to plan, use and track your ecommerce keywords to maximise your rankings and meet more customers online. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or lost, have a read – you’ll understand.
How to check your heading tags for SEO goodness:
Grab few heading examples from your category, sub-category and product pages and enter your URL into the heading tag checker of SEO site checkup.
This will list the h1 and h2’s of your pages straight up. You’ll be able to work out if you have used these tags at all, and if you have, you’ll be able to tell if you have used your best keywords for your content.
Example of a top notch SEO heading structure:
If you’re name’s Burton and you’re selling ski gear, your “snowboards” category page headings should look something like this:
H1 Heading Tag:
H2 Heading Tag:
Buy Burton Boards, Boots & Bindings online[Content]
One of your product pages might look something like this:
H1 Heading Tag:
Burton Easy Livin Restricted Snowboard 2014
H2 Heading Tag:
Product Code: 34256K8-9
(It’s a great idea to include product codes in a H2 tag. Customers often search for specific products by their code to compare prices and providers just before purchase. This means the ‘add to cart’ button push is not too far away, so you want your page front and centre in your potential customer’s search results page.)[Content]
H3 Heading Tag:
We all know what comes next…
A snowboarding gorilla of course.
Fixing Your Headings Tag Optimisation
You need to make sure these tags help your readers and add value to your content.
If you can mix in some SEO keyword magic, fantastic. If not, prioritise the humans over the robots.
Broken record time:
Remember, Customer 1st, Google 2nd.
If you find these tags are absent altogether (or you want to add keywords in to your tags), head to your content editor.
- Select your page’s HTML source code window
- Hit CTRL-F and search for your headline.
- Apply this format with your new SEO friendly headline inside the
- Repeat the process for your subheadings with
If you have more than one h1 tag, you’ll want to fix that up. Erase the multiples and condense them into one.
If h2 tags are being used unnecessarily, (using non-descriptive and unhelpful text such as “Buy now” or “Read More”) change them to target keyword variations or helpful, important information.
You can make these changes in less time than it took to read this blog post.
5 minutes per page will set you up to reel in more and more red hot leads from search engine results.
If you want more ecommerce specific SEO hacks, you’re in luck. We’ve got a over 30 pages worth of ebook for you in our Ecommerce Content Optimisation Guide. Download it free and use it as a step by step SEO blueprint for your content management team.