Are long subheadings in blog articles okay (for SEO)?


Short answer: I write long subheadings. Not all of them are long, but some are. IMO, writing long subheadings is a perfectly fine practice. In some cases, it can enhance an article.

What is a subheading?

The text above saying “What is a subheading?” is a subheading with an h2 tag applied.

A subheading is heading within an article that is assigned a heading tag.  Heading tags available in the WordPress editor range from heading1 to heading6.  The point of the subheading is to indicate a new section in an article.  Usually, the font is larger than the regular text.  Usually, it’s fairly short but as you’ll see below, not always.  In fact, I frequently write long subheadings just because in the right context it makes for a better read.

How do you create a subheading in WordPress?

Highlight the text you wish to convert to a subheading and assign whatever subheading text you wish to apply to it. Here’s the process:

How to create a subheading in WordPress

What is a long subheading?

A long subheading is any subheading longer than 8 words.  Most are shorter than 8 words.  When longer, they are often written more as a sentence than a heading… which IMO is okay to do. I rank for some amazing keywords with articles peppered with plenty of long subheadings.

At what point is subheading too long?

I won’t write a subheading that is longer than one sentence. In other words, I won’t publish a paragraph as a subheading.

Does it matter whether a long subheading is h2, h3 or h4?

Yes, it matters. Subheadings are hierarchical. I’m pretty lazy about a lot of things but one thing I’m maniacal about with my sites is that subheadings in any article follow the correct hierarchy.

The proper subheading hierarchy is assigning the right tag to subordinate headings within a section.  Here’s the hierarchy:

Heading 1: Blog post title

Heading 2

  • Heading 3
  • Heading 3
    • Heading 4
    • Heading 4
  • Heading 3
    • Heading 4
    • Heading 4
      • Heading 5
      • Heading 5

Heading 2

Note, it’s rare that I end up with a hierarchy beyond heading3.

Should an article start with a heading1 tag?

Most WordPress themes assign a heading1 tag to the blog post title.  I do not use heading1 tags in the article. The first heading is a heading2.  Some folks believe it’s okay to use heading1 tags in articles. It’s one of those “agree to disagree” matters. If you do use heading1 tags in an article, I wouldn’t sweat it.  Google isn’t going to reject your article because of it.

If a subheading is a question should it be italicized?

That’s up to you. Sometimes I italicize question subheadings. Sometimes I don’t. I don’t think it matters.

Is it reasonable to ask writers to properly format articles they write with subheading tags?

Yes, absolutely.  In fact, it’s part of the training I have writers go through.  I make it clear that subheadings are very important to Web content and I expect that they’ll use them.

How many subheadings should an article have?

The answer to this entirely depends on the article and how long it is.  For some articles, I have quite a few subheadings in relation to the amount of text. This article is an example of that.  Each section is pretty short.

On the flip side, I have longer articles with only 2 to 4 subheadings.  It really depends on the topic and the article.

Is it okay for an article to have no subheadings?

While likely rare, yeah it is if that’s the article.  Perhaps is a shorter article that is focused entirely on addressing the main title where subheadings would be superfluous.

Is it okay to create links with subheadings?

Yeah, it’s fine technically but I don’t care for the practice. I’ve done it but generally speaking I avoid it for two reasons.  First, if links on a site are underlined, the subheading is underlined which can look odd among other subheadings that aren’t underlined.  Second, if links on a site are not underlined, it’s a different color and in some cases visitors don’t know it’s a link.  I certainly wouldn’t want to add a call to action to a subheading such as “Click here”.

If a long subheading article is okay, should I write full paragraphs with a heading tag?  How about an entire article?

No, in my view it is improper to publish entire paragraphs with a heading tag applied.  That is not the purpose of heading tags. I’d be careful with such practices as Google might consider that an attempt to game rankings by emphasizing text unnecessarily.







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