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See Wikipedia heatmap definition

GeoServer uses SLD to invoke the heatmap rendering transformation on a featuretype with point geometries and an attribute population supplying the weight for the points.

The output is styled using a color ramp across the range or values in the output raster [0 .. 1].

SLD: - simply insert the attribute name to use for the values - here, POP2010. 

This style is named AFREEMAN.TOWNSSURVEY_CTR_PT::Heatmap_POP2010



Towns with higher 2010 population have more red.

Adjustments can be made to parameters in the SLD.  If radiusPixels value of 10 instead of 100 is used the map changes:

Radius controls the “spread” of the heatmap around each point.

               <ogc:Function name="parameter">
                 <ogc:Function name="env">


In the SLD the pixelsPerCell parameter controls the resolution at which the heatmap raster is computed.