How Headlines, Link Text & Formatting Help Search Rankings

As per a previous on-page SEO factors blog post I noted that optimizing websites and web pages for search engine rankings can significantly impact your website's overall visibility in search results. The previous article discussed page title tags and descriptions. Now let's review web page body content including headlines, subheadlines, anchor text in links, and body text formatting.

Elements of a Brand

The bottom line? Properly optimized web page copy headlines, link text and formatting are all contributing factors in how well your web pages will rank with search engine listings.

Viewing Your Page's "Source Code"

And as noted in my previous post, I'll be referring to some elements of your website that you won't see in your browser in 'regular' mode. If you want to see some of the things noted below for your website go to your site and check out the "View source code". This refers to the programming code "underneath" what you see on each web page.

This is usually easy to find. Here are some typical ways to find this code:

  • in Internet Explore click on "view", then "source" 
  • in Chrome, Safari or Firefox right-click on the page, then click on "view page source" or "page source"

Of course, this may vary in your browser based upon what version you are working. This "source code" typically opens into a new window.

On Page SEO Factors 2Your Page's Domain / File Name

This refers to your pages file name (e.g. www.yourdomain.com/blue-widgets). Once upon a time having keywords in the domain name had a strong influence in rankings for those keywords. About six months ago Google dialled down the influence of keywords in the domain name. However, if you have ability to use keywords (e.g. "blue widgets") that you want to rank well for definitely use them as it's still a contributing SEO factor.

Headlines - "H1 Tags"

Headlines or "H1 tags" also have an influence with search engine rankings. Use only one per page preferably at the top of the page. If you use more than one H1 tag per page search engines tend to ignore these. Using most important keywords at the beginning of your H1 tag typically offers more weight. H1 tags left unformatted to be very large but can use CSS (cascading style sheets) to make the H1 tags smaller. As long as the H1 tag is readable you are ok to format font size, font style, etc.

Subheadlines - "H2, H3 tags, etc"

Subsequent subheadlines which typically use h2 and h3 HTML formatting can have multiple versions of these types of tag. It's best to 'nest' lower level tags like H2 followed by a few H3 tags, then another h2 tag followed by some H3 tags, etc. Subheadline tags can vary from H2 to H6. And like H1 tags, you can use CSS to style subheadlines to format font size, style, etc.

Anchor Text - "Link Text"

Adding text to hyperlinks also has an relatively small impact with search engines. Using your keyword or phrase in the text (e.g. "Learn more about our blue widgets") and stay away from generic text like "click here".

Text Formatting - Bold, Italics, Lists

How Headlines, Link Text & Formatting Help Search Rankings

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Adding text formatting like bold, italics and lists (with bullet points or numbers) an potentially send a message to search engines that this text is a little more important than other text.

What's Next?

In futures posts I'll write more about how other SEO factors such as images, directory structure and update frequency and how these effect search engine rankings.

Questions, Comments or Suggestions?

I welcome your questions, comments or suggestions about web page content formatting. Just add these in the fields below. I'll respond to each and every question or comment if appropriate. And if you are looking for some search engine optimization (SEO) consulting advise feel free to contact us.

Roy McClean
Jul 10, 2012
By Roy McClean

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