I’m a flighty internet surfer. When I read content online, I have a very short attention span. I tend to scan through articles and open at least ten times as many webpages as I actually take the time to read in their entirety.
But I know I’m not alone. We, the surfers of the web, are a flighty group. And our lack of willingness to devote all of our attention can’t be stopped, it can only be contained. That’s where headings come in.
Headings help to show a visitor that your content is worthwhile. It’s your best bet to convince them to actually engage with what you’ve written. Below are a few best practices to keep in mind as you write headings into your website content.
Make Your Headings Short
The whole point of a heading is to provide a way for a reader to scan through your content without reading every word to see if it’s what they’re looking for. The longer your headings, the harder they are to scan. Use as few words as possible while still conveying what each section is about.
Make Your Headings Clear and Accurate
If your reader doesn’t know what your heading means, it doesn’t provide much help in navigating your content. Use simple language that clearly outlines what a reader can expect from the content that follows. Headings with ambiguous jargon don’t help readers understand your content.
Use Keywords in Your Headings
Just like your readers, search engines give more weight to your headings when deciding what your content is all about. Make sure you include relevant keywords in your headings throughout your content. However, make sure you remember the points above and keep those headings short and clear.
Make Your Headings Prominent
Even if you do all of the above, your headings honestly don’t matter much to your reader if they can’t easily see them. Your headings should stand out. While there’s no universal rule for what constitutes prominent, it likely means your headings will be bigger, equally dark or darker and bolder than your body text. It’s also generally a good idea to leave a little space above a heading to help it stand out. You’ll likely need to enlist the help of someone with basic coding knowledge to make this happen, but it should be a pretty easy fix.
What do you think? Do you scan headings before engaging with the content on a webpage? As a reader or someone that writes content, is there anything else you think makes headings more effective? Feel free to share your thoughts below.