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Today I was talking to a client about the labels he was using on his website and the need to use clear sub-headers throughout his website copy.

Some people think they are being clever or that users will be interested by unusual or unclear button labels, but the reality is that many will simply bang the “Back” button and go to the next website if your navigation or content is confusing.

For example, a client several years ago wanted to replace the “Blog” button text with something like “360 Zone.” Well, there’s nothing wrong with branding your blog. In fact, it’s a great idea. But if I were a first time user to their website looking for their corporate blog, I wouldn’t suspect that it was to be found that label; I’m looking for “Blog.”

The take away: no mystery meat button labels!

Why Use Clear Sub-Headers

First, from an SEO perspective, using sub-headers is very important. Google and other search engines look for the “H1” tag (the page title) and “H2” tag on the page. It identifies a hierarchy for the page’s content. And using keywords in sub-headers is always a good idea. It communicates in a more official way what the page is about.

But secondly, users don’t read web pages; they skim them. And it’s important to write in such a way that gives your users an anchor – something for them to visually grab onto while they are skimming the page. Sub-headers, bulleted lists, bolded sections, call-outs, etc. are all great ways to create these visual anchors. It will increase the time on the page as well as user engagement.

And writing clear, concise sub-headers helps your users know what your content is really about without having to read it all.

The take away: A good rule of thumb is not to have more than 2-3 paragraphs without separating them with a sub-header.