When people go online in order to seek information, they usually end up utilizing means in order to best find the content they are looking for. At the end of the day, when they are able to determine if a web page contains the information they are looking for, they become better equipped in searching, deciphering, and even choosing the information they want to access at any given point, but particularly through search engines.
Headings play a particularly important role when it comes to finding information online, and secondly, facilitating the use of the website within which the content or information desired is to be found. It can be illustrated in two-fold scenarios, one before the website is found, and one when the user is already within the website.
Headings in hypertext protocol or HTML are a group of text rich with content, usually composed of primary keywords that give a clue or idea about the content of the website. In general terms, a heading is a line or hierarchical label that informs the users as to the content of the website, alongside pertinent information as regards the nature of this content.
When it comes to searching for particular websites, headings play a pivotal role in having the page show up at all in the results of any search engine query. Search engines, when they ‘crawl’ through the Internet looking for relevant information and related websites, usually put into consideration the heading. Headings are so important here that in order to search engine optimize one’s website, many believe that it must then contain major keywords that truly characterize the content of the page.
Moreover, aside from the HTML content rich code headings, it’s also important to put primacy upon the heading that is present within the main text body displayed on the website. This is the huge hierarchical label or title that gives the readers an idea of what is contained in the page.
In search engine results, these in-text headings are extremely important because they are what most search engines use in order to label each individual link derived from the search. This then can then determine if the user will find the heading relevant enough to the search he or she is looking for. By providing an efficient heading, one is already providing a great convenience to the user by making the website readily accessible and usable.
More importantly, once the user is already within the realms of the website, headings in particular guide them as they explore its complete contents. When the heading reflects effectively the very content of a single page, the website as a whole is made more usable as no page is designed to mislead the user into thinking the information he or she is looking for is within that page.
Another great function of headings in a website that may be used to subdivide various information contained in them is that it facilitates the scanning through of information of users in a page. As it is, users are oftentimes not interested on the content found in its entirety in a page, but only a particular part of it. By allowing them to be guided by headings, websites become more usable, friendly, and convenient for all its users.
Moreover, it gives users a general idea about the hierarchical structure of the website and how information is organized. The flow of this information, and the understanding of the users of this particular flow, is of importance to users as this could very well determine their understanding of the concepts explored in the information presented.
Headings also imply that when users scan for information they need selectively, they may pick out particular portions of the text in between headings without necessarily compromising understandability and being taken out of context.
The most convenient use of headings is when text-heavy pages utilize a small portion of table of contents at the top of the page, where the information is subdivided into their respective headings. In this way, users are already able to have a general understanding of what the website contains in a direct and straightforward manner. Thus, if the table of contents is also link-activated, it will allow for them to skip only to the information they need.
At the end of the day, headings improve a website’s usability by simplifying information made available to users and organizing them into a format most convenient. It allows for users to first, find the information they need through a search engine, and once within the website, determine and scan through the text easily in order to find the information they need in a short time and with very little trouble.