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Are HTML title tags (H2-H6) a Google ranking factor?

Does Google's search ranking algorithm take into account your use of H2-H6 subheadings?

In a previous article, we explored the evidence for H1 tags as a Google ranking factor..

Now, let's look at the rest of the title tag – H2 to H6.Does using these tags help your content rank higher in Google?Does using specific keywords in your H2 to H6 tagged titles help you rank for those terms?

Let's take a look.

Statement: H2-H6 tags as ranking factors

The belief here is that the keywords you use in your H2-H6 subheadings are more important in Google's algorithm than words in plain text, so the tags themselves are a ranking factor.

Evidence of HTML title tags as ranking factors

Once upon a time - around 2005-2010 - subtitles seemed to count as a ranking factor.Use target keywords in higher-level subheadings (Usually primary keyword in H1, secondary keyword in H2 and H3) to help you rank for these keywords.

That's more weight on the text as a whole, and what you do with it.

Using specific keyword densities and placing keywords in specific locations is considered a best practice for optimizing content for sites like Suite101,, and WikiHow.These sites are a nightmare for Google because much of what it uses to assess the quality of pages works in their favor.

With a solid technical foundation and the authority to publish a lot of content (and get a link to that content), on-page SEO tactics like optimizing subheadings are just a watered-down recipe for high rankings.

Fast forward to August 2020, and Google’s John Mueller told us bluntly that headlines are indeed a ranking factor:

"So headings on a page help us better understand what's on the page.

The title on the page isn't our only ranking factor.We also look at the content ourselves.

But sometimes having a clear title on the page gives us a little more insight into what the section is about.

He went on to say:

"When it comes to the text on the page, the title is a very strong signal that this part of the page is about the topic.

...It doesn't matter whether you put it in an H1 tag, H2 tag, H5 or whatever.

Evidence against H2-H6 tags as ranking factors

If all you've learned from the interview excerpt above is that Mueller said title tags are a strong signal, you might think they're much more valuable than they might be.

We know that web pages can rank without title tags at all.

We know that adding a certain keyword to your title tag won't get you to the top of Google rankings.

What Mueller said was, the title tag:

  • Help Google better understand content.
  • Give Google more info.
  • is a strong signal of the content of a particular part of the page.

Google has made great strides in developing a more nuanced understanding of each web page by adding more (and more complex) factors to its algorithm.

It continually tests and updates algorithms to better "understand" relevance, relationships between entities, and searchers' perceptions of a positive, high-quality experience.

As new, more accurate methods of understanding these complex problems are incorporated into algorithms, these old signals are inevitably diluted.

why?Because like many previous ranking signals – text formatting, keyword density and .The government link between them - subtitle is too easy to play the game.

Anything you can explicitly "tell" Google can be used to manipulate the algorithm.

H2-H6 Tags as Ranking Factors: Our Verdict

HTML title tags are important:

  • Help readers and search engines navigate the content on each pagestructural elements of.
  • Accessibility – Title tags help browsers, plug-ins, and assistive technologies navigate the page.
  • Navigation tool.They can help improve the user experience and highlight important information.

They're a confirmed ranking factor, but having specific keywords in your title tag isn't your ticket to the top of Google's SERPs.You'd have to ride your time machine back to the first decade of the century to see any significant ranking impact.

Just like H1, this one is misused and misused.Google is wise to all the keyword stuffing, overuse, and sites that try to disguise the HTML of their title tags with CSS.

Want to get the most out of these page elements?Focus on the UX benefits of title tags and their usefulness in providing content structure.

Extended reading:

Are .edu links a Google search ranking factor?

Are .gov Links a Google ranking factor?

Anchor Text as a Google Ranking Factor: Everything You Need to Know

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