Featured snippets. Subheadings can provide an answer to a search query. In my experience, a subheading followed by an answer is often all it takes to win a featured snippet.
The best SEO strategy assists Google in understanding the content of a page. HTML subheadings are not by themselves a ranking factor. But they help both Google and humans, which is never a bad thing.
Code Is Overrated
To help Google locate answers, make the question a subheading, such as this Q&A page for Prime Day. Click image to enlarge.
Answer related questions. Addressing popular questions can generate FAQ rich-snippets in search and rank in “People also ask” boxes. To help Google locate answers, make the question a subheading.
Describe each item in a list. Readers love lists. Search optimizers do, too, as lists can target queries, such as gift ideas and suitable products.
When HTML Headings Help
Use HTML headings to:
WebCEO’s keyword tool analyzes HTML headings. Click image to enlarge.
Mini sitelinks. Using subheadings for an on-page table of contents can earn mini sitelinks in search results. This tactic applies to long-form content or extensive product category pages with sections for type, brands, and other attributes.
HTML headings are phrases or short sentences introducing a new section of content.
Google’s guidelines on the proper use of headings don’t mention a preferred code. Instead, the guidelines encourage clear, short subheadings in the active case without gerunds.
HTML headings help Google generate informative organic snippets, which increases search visibility, as follows.
A mini sitelink such as this example of “Affordable MULTI-HULL Boats” provides searchers with additional reasons to click. Click image to enlarge.
How to Structure
Conventional snippets. Google frequently includes subheadings as the snippet description. Here’s an example.
Provide steps for how-to content. Google recommends using task-based subheadings as “base verbs” that clearly describe each step.
A logical hierarchy is helpful — H2 followed by H3 followed by H4.
Google recommends using task-based subheadings as “base verbs,” such as “Create” — not “Creating.”
The heading markup code — H2, H3, H4 — doesn’t matter as much as many SEOs believe. A logical hierarchy is helpful — H2 followed by H3 followed by H4 — but Google doesn’t necessarily require it. Any relevant code that creates meaningful structure is acceptable.
And a tool from Internet Marketing Ninjas, my employer, extracts HTML headings from any page and even compares your HTML structure to competitors.
Help Google and Humans
Using subheadings for an on-page table of contents can earn mini sitelinks in search results. Click image to enlarge.