The Feast Plugin's Advanced Jump To Links is a powerful tool in the hands of the right person, but can also make your recipe pages ugly and worse for visitors if misused.
Here are some modern guidelines for making great page headings.
"Page" here refers to all pages on your site - posts, pages, category pages and the home page.
Do not over optimize
Do not use your primary keyword in your (h2 and below) headings. This is unnatural to readers and is a sign of low quality content.
Search engines have moved to a topical understanding of pages. They know what the page is about based on your title, images, and the content on your page relating to that topic. This means that you do not need to repeat your keywords in the headings.
Any SEO still advocating this hasn't been paying attention to the last 5 years.
The top performing posts have a keyword density around 1.5%-1.7%.
Note: Yoast permits up to 3% keyword density, but we wouldn't advise following those guidelines.
Accessibility and screen readers
Screen readers rely on headings, which means headings should be written to sound natural.
Try to avoid acronyms, as fully capitalized words are sometimes read letter-by-letter by screen readers.
Do not overuse headings. In most cases, content editors will not need more than <h2> rank headings and the occasional <h3> rank.Yale web accessibility guidelines on headings
Reference: Yale: headings and accessibility
The initial version of this documentation indicated that capitalization is important. There have actually been no explicit guidelines presented for accessibility or search engine optimization regarding capitalization.
Currently, it's believed to be fine whether you use sentence case or title case. Do not write your headings in all uppercase.
Note: some themes (such as Foodie Pro) use CSS to display the headings as uppercase. This is not a problem as long as you've actually written the heading normally in the block/classic editor.
It is important to be consistent with your preferred usage across a post.
Do not use too many headings
This again comes directly from Google's guidelines on headings:
Use heading tags where it makes sense. Too many heading tags on a page can make it hard for users to scan the content and determine where one topic ends and another begins.Google Webmaster Guidelines for Heading Tags
This is why the Feast Plugin's Advanced Jump To Links uses only h2 headings, rather than h3 and lower. Having too many headings makes the page navigation menu too long, making the user experience worse, rather than better.
You can absolutely use h3s if it makes sense for your page, but these have been specifically exempt from the jump to link menu.
We've never seen a good use case for h4, h5 and h6 tags on recipe sites and simply don't recommend using them. If you're one of the 1% of 1% of people who are writing insanely long and technical documents about food or recipes (not a great user experience in 99% of cases), then feel free to ignore this.
Use short, concise headings
Google's guidelines on page headings states explicitly to:
- Excessive use of heading tags on a page.Google Guidelines on page headings
- Very long headings.
- Using heading tags only for styling text and not presenting structure.
Preliminary testing with the Advanced Jump To Links has shown that using shorter headings leads to more jump to links in the search results.
Using emojis related to the heading makes these headings stand out even more, increasing the likelihood you catch the visitors attention and they visit your recipe. This means more pageviews.
Using short, concise headings helps users avoid the dreaded f-shaped pattern when reading your content, improving the user experience on your site
This ultimately forces you to provide information to readers in a mentally-easily-digestible way.
Do not use h1s for headings
Your page should have a single h1: the post title.
The rest of the headings should be h2s, relating to aspects of the recipe that readers would find useful. For heading ideas, see the Advanced Jump To page.
Use headings sequentially
Headings should not start at h3 or h4 (after the h1 post title), and should cascade sequentially.
Skipping heading ranks can be confusing and should be avoided where possible: Make sure that a
<h2>is not followed directly by an
<h4>, for example.
It is ok to skip ranks when closing subsections, for instance, aW3 Web Accessibility Guidelines
<h2>beginning a new section, can follow an
<h4>as it closes the previous section.
If you've been using headings for visual styling, this should be fixed.
The h2s define the general sections of the post, with some h3s where necessary as sub-sections of h2s. Most recipes will do fine without needing h3s or lower.
Do not combine with other tags
Headings should not be combined with other HTML tags like <strong> or <em>. Any visual styling you want to apply to headings should be applied via CSS.
Rethinking your post structure
Headings define "sections" of your post, relating to specific aspects of the overall page topic.
Imagine you're writing an outline
Similar to writing an outline for a large paper, put some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use heading tags appropriately.Google Webmaster Guidelines for Heading Tags
Rather than having a long post that's not broken up by headings, think of the post as components centered around a specific topic.
Much like screen readers, voice assistants may rely on headings to help the visitor navigate a document.