Heading Tags, WYSIWYG editors and SEO.

Tools that make building websites easy sometimes make getting visitors a lot harder.

Many websites are built using web-based database driven systems that use WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) software to allow owners to edit the content for their websites. These tools are usually well configured to ensure the resulting pages are spiderable.

However, there is more to SEO than just ensuring a page is seen by a search engine. The search engine needs to know what it is about.

The H1 to H7 tags are great for marking up headlines which are usually good indicatiors of content and are thus given a high weighting by search engine spiders.

Sadly many WYSIWYG editors (or the people using the editors) ignore them and create headlines using the tag instead.

This is not a good idea because both Yahoo and Google were putting out the position (in January 2007) that websites should only “Use bold and italic to help make your text more readable for your users – it’s all just text to us.”

So if a site uses the tag as a prime method of headlining important text, then that site could substantially improve its search engine visibility by making a comparatively simple change.

H tags and SEO

The H tags are a hierarchy, the most important information appearing in the H1 tag and the least important heading being H7. Some people might read that and ask “Is it best to use H1 for all headings?”. Sadly, that sort of behaviour would be seen in a bad light by the search engines. You can use any number of H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 tags on any page, but they should follow a genuine hierarchy and the proportion of H tags to paragraphs should not be overdone.

So, an article should start with an H1 tag for the headline. Then an opening paragraph of plain text, then maybe an H2 subheading and content. Then if there is a second point to make add another H2 and if that point has three sub clauses, they can each be headed with an H3.

Here at Brown Bear Media we have experience with a wide range of off the shelf as well as bespoke WYSIWYG systems.