Proper Use of Headings for Book Bloggers

(Last Updated On: September 20, 2019)

Welcome to the third in a four-part post series on my move from Paid WordPress to Self-Hosted: Proper Use of Headings! This guide will cover what headings are, how they are used by search engines, and alternative ways of styling your posts if you are currently using headers.

Paid WP vs. Self-Hosted | How I Went Self-Hosted | Proper Use of Headings | SEO for Book Bloggers

This series discusses my lessons learned and tips you can use (even on Free WordPress!) to improve your blog.

I know this likely seems like such a detour from the prior posts in this series. Originally this was going to be part of the SEO for Book Bloggers post, but it wound up being such a large section that I decided to break it out into it’s own post. This way, you can get your feet wet on a small thing that will have a big SEO impact before diving in a bit deeper next month!

So, what are Headings?

We all are guilty of this: using the various heading options for stylistic purposes in our posts, but did you know that each heading has a specific purpose? Did you also know that misusing headings can seriously damage your SEO? For instance, your page should only have one H1 tag!

If you use WordPress, headers are listed in order of size and importance beginning with H1. Since we are all readers here, let’s use a book analogy to describe the hierarchy of headers.

  • Book’s Title: H1 (there can be only one!)
  • Chapters: H2
  • Sections within a Chapter: H3
  • Subsections within a Section: H4 & beyond

How do headings relate to the topic of moving to self hosted?

As a self-hosted blog you have access to a lot of tools and plugins, one of which is the free Yoast SEO plugin. When I moved to self-hosted and began reformatting a lot of my posts, my Yoast plugin yelled at me a lot: not because I was misusing them for formatting, but rather that I wasn’t using them enough!

I took some time to really dig into some free SEO courses and realized this information will benefit everyone who runs a blog or website in general. Understanding headings and using them when formatting your posts will have an incredible impact on readability, which can impact your SEO ranking.

❗ More information about SEO (aka a beginner’s guide) will be coming in October’s series guide, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out!

Headings are Reading and SEO Tools

Headings break up the post into easily navigable sections so readers can find what is relevant to them. We live in a world of decreased attention span, so outlining your posts with headings is a great way to increase readability! Improving your visitor’s reading experience will indirectly impact your SEO.

Headings show post structure

Have you ever written an outline for a research paper? Think of headings as the representation of an outline for your blog post. When someone visits your site, they can easily skim the page to understand the key things covered. It’s like a map of the content, while also breaking up the walls of text into more easily readable sections.

While I didn’t outline this post beforehand, here is one now:

  • H1: Proper Use of Headings for Book Bloggers (this is my post title)
  • H2: So, what are Headings?
    • H3: How do headings relate to moving to self-hosted?
  • H2: Headings are Reading and SEO Tools
    • H3: Headings show post structure
    • H3: Headings increase readability
    • H3: Okay, so what are my formatting options if I can’t use headings?

The more in-depth your post is, the more headings and subsections you will need but it is rare to need to include H4 and beyond.

Headings increase post readability

The truth is that we have dwindling attention spans and do not want to read walls of text. (Too bad for me that my brand is overly verbose!) The truth is that breaking up my detailed posts not only helps with SEO but also the reader and increases the chances your visitor will continue reading.

You can check to make sure your headings are coded properly against your post “outline” by checking your published post on the W3 Validator.

Okay, so what are my formatting options if I can’t use headings?

The best option would be to use HTML in your post to change the font size and color. I know, I know… that is a lot more work than just using Heading 3 for all of the quotes used in your book reviews (guilty), but in the long run you actually have more creative freedom this way.

(remove the ***)
To change the font size: <***span style="font-size: 14pt;"> Text you want to be 14pt <***/span>
To change the font face: <***span style="font-family: FONT NAME;"> Text you want in a different font face <***/span>

For a list of web-safe fonts, check out W3 Schools.

To change the font color: <***span style="color: #hex;"> Text you want in a different font color <***/span>

For a list of hex codes, check out Color-Hex.

Back before I memorized the HTML codes that I most frequently use, I saved a notepad file on my desktop with the HTML saved to easily plug into my posts. If you are using the new block editor you can do this one time to create a “quote” block and save some time.

🗒️ Karlita @ Tale Out Loud has a fantastic HTML guide that has codes that work on Free WordPress!

💖 If you like the work that I do here at Reader Voracious, consider fueling my pumpkin spice latte and black tie addiction by buying me a ko-fi or joining my Patreon! ☕

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!



  1. Ally Writes Things

    September 18, 2019 at 7:59 AM

    Ahhh this is such a great post, Kal!!! Breaking up your post is 100% (IMO) the most important part of getting people to read your post. A massive block of text is super daunting, but little chunks are easier to manage. I love using headings to break up my posts!

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 10:54 AM

      I totally agree with you, even though my desire is to always create huge walls of text lmao. The reminder to use headings and categorize sections to break things up makes such a huge difference in readibility & it’s easy to do! Thanks for reading, Ally!

  2. Kristina

    September 18, 2019 at 4:51 PM

    That’s such a good thing to know, thanks Kal!

    Now .. I wonder, the ones I tend to use the most are Header 4-5-6 — mainly to kind of “cut” my paragraph a bit (when applicable), so does that mean i’m using it actually the way it’s intended? or like.. do you really need to have a H1, H2 & H3 beforehand in the post?
    SEO still confuses me alot xd I really need to go deeper in that, aswell as HTML someday ..

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 11:05 AM

      Glad you found the post useful!

      The headings are really supposed to be used in order of importance. If you are using H4-H6 for stylistic reasons, you would be better off using HTML to alter the font size or font face.

      1. Kristina

        September 20, 2019 at 12:18 PM

        Erhh I see- thanks! Now I gotta look onto that!

  3. Macey @ Brine and Books

    September 18, 2019 at 5:35 PM

    This is so helpful!! I’ve only recently gone self-hosted, so I’m learning a lot about SEO and having my struggles with it. I’m going to be referring back to this post in the future; that’s for sure :’)

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 11:09 AM

      I am glad you found it helpful — mastering this is one small thing that can make such a big difference! Not only can it help your SEO, but it will also help increase readability for your visitors. If you aren’t using the free Yoast SEO plugin, you should!

      1. Macey @ Brine and Books

        September 20, 2019 at 5:03 PM

        I am using it!! It’s opened my eyes to ways I can write more effectively for SEO 🙂

  4. Erin Eliza

    September 18, 2019 at 7:54 PM

    so on free wordpress i use the higher number headers because i like the look and size of them better, should i not using them if i haven’t used the h1 or h2 yet???

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 11:12 AM

      Yea, you shouldn’t. What I would recommend you do is use HTML to mimic the style you want! You’ll have a lot more freedom that way anyways as the heading looks are theme dependent. (You won’t really need to use H1 though — that’s post title!)

  5. TheCaffeinatedReader

    September 19, 2019 at 5:46 AM

    I literally save every single blog post of yours that has to do with blog tips, they’re always full of brilliant advice

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 11:31 AM

      Awww, that is the highest compliment – thank you so much!!!

  6. Sarah

    September 19, 2019 at 9:41 AM

    That was super helpful, thank you!! Looking forward to the next post on SEO. 🙂

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 11:45 AM

      Glad you found the post useful, Sarah!

  7. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    September 19, 2019 at 3:07 PM

    Well, my mind has officially been blown. Haha! I had no clue that SEO takes blog headers into consideration. I personally only utilize H1 (title) and H3 (paragraph titles essentially), but I’ll have to change this around a bit if I want my blog to be more SEO suitable. I don’t believe I’ve ever even included H2! 🙈

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 12:12 PM

      My mind was blown when I found out too, don’t worry! I knew I had to write about this because of how many bloggers use headings formatting text within paragraphs and there are better ways to style a post. Depending on your theme, the way your headings look may be gross but I did a text and you can overwrite how it looks in the post with HTML!

      1. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

        September 20, 2019 at 9:32 PM

        The only thing that I’ve adjusted in the CSS styling is the font size of my headers. I’ll just have to adjust the size for a few of them, and I’ll hopefully be good to go!

  8. fictionnochaser

    September 20, 2019 at 5:24 AM

    I’m just going to call you blogger yoda from now on. You seriously have all of the good advice and tips. Thank you!

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 12:16 PM

      😂😂😂 Blogger Yoda, love it I do!

      On a more serious note, I am glad you found this post useful, Jess!

  9. northernplunder

    September 20, 2019 at 6:32 AM

    this is v helpful and making me realise im using them wrong but also how do u exist whenit tell you off for your book reviews being too long and no subheadings

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 12:19 PM

      That is a mood – Yoast yells at me for all of my reviews because I don’t use subheadings in my reviews currently. Even though I know I *should*. I’ve been considering having H3 sections in my reviews for character development, worldbuilding, pacing/writing but just haven’t.

      1. northernplunder

        September 20, 2019 at 1:23 PM

        it really bothers me and im struggling to hit post without a green tick lmao.

        1. Kal

          October 3, 2019 at 4:38 PM

          SAME! I just can’t seem to get it for a review… I would need to reformat them and I don’t know if I want to. :/

  10. dinipandareads

    September 22, 2019 at 3:40 AM

    Wow, I had no idea that headings affected SEO! I’m not even self-hosted but this is super informative and really good to know in future if I ever decide to take that path. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    1. Kal

      October 3, 2019 at 4:50 PM

      Yea, this and the next one in the series is actually full of things that will help anyone regardless of their platform! Free WordPress does have good SEO in general, but the little things to improve readability will help with user experience, too! Thanks for reading!

  11. Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea

    September 22, 2019 at 9:00 AM

    This is such a helpful post! You’re honestly such a great blogger and advice giver 😍

    Haha, I’m very verbose as well! Headings probably help my readers somuch, and they help me a lot too! I never stopped to think about how much they may help though, so this post was really eye-opening!

    1. Kal

      October 3, 2019 at 4:54 PM

      Awww, thank you so much for the compliment Caitlin! I am so glad you found this post useful and YAY for another overly verbose blogger! *high fives*

  12. Marie

    September 22, 2019 at 9:12 AM

    I adore all of your posts so much, Kal, they’re honestly a gold mine always. I knew about this little trick for the headings since I work a lot with SEO with my every day job, but definitely a post I’ll share!! Thank you so much for writing it <3

    1. Kal

      October 3, 2019 at 4:58 PM

      Thank you so much, your kind words mean so much to me! xoxo

  13. Lisa @ waytoofantasy

    September 25, 2019 at 5:11 AM

    Really love this post, so informative! Thanks for sharing this info with the community. 🙂

    1. Kal

      October 4, 2019 at 8:40 PM

      You’re welcome, and I am SO GLAD you found it useful! xxo

  14. September 2019 Wrap-Up – Sarah Ames-Foley

    September 30, 2019 at 6:59 AM

    […] Kal teaches us how headings work in WordPress (I didn’t know they mattered for anything except visuals!) […]

  15. September Wrap Up 2019 |

    October 8, 2019 at 4:36 AM

    […] Kal @ Reader Voracious looks at the proper use of headings for book blogging. […]

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