Some time ago I reviewed tools that help understand the page HTML semantic structure based on H1-H6 headings. While some webmasters question the overall necessity of headings, I insist that they should be used to structure the page content for:
- SEO benefit: H-heading is one of the best ways to give your keywords prominence;
- Accessibility and usability: headings enable screen reader and some browser (e.g. Opera) users to use voice and keyboard commands to navigate throughout the page (see this video explaining the importance of headings for accessibility);
- Web etiquette: like clean (preferably validated) code, good page structure is the sign of proper behavior and trusted brand.
Here is the checklist of proper heading usage (please add your points or argue mine):
Each of my pages have at least one heading;
I have only one H1 heading per page;
H1 heading is the first heading on the page;
I use the page main keyword in H1 heading of the page;
I use headings to structure content and CSS for visual effects;
I don’t skip heading levels (e.g. H1 to H3);
All other headings (except H1) are subheadings; they are (ideally) thematically connected with the previous-level heading;
I use headings consistently throughout the site;
Headings are short and concise (and thus easily scanned);
Headings extracted from the page represent the summary of the text (i.e. I can guess what the page is about without reading its full content);
I use SEO or web accessibility tools to evaluate the structure of my pages.