Multiple H1 Tags has been a contentious issue in the SEO community for more than a decade.
It has long been suggested that having multiple H1 tags is a sure-fire way to inhibit your ranking potential. But what does Google have to say on the matter? Well, after more than enough speculation, John Mueller from Google gave an official answer in an Ask Google Webmasters Q&A session on YouTube.
Twitter user @Chaeppeli asked John Mueller to clarify Google’s stance on Multiple H1 tags
“Can we have a clear answer to the question [of] how to handle headings and accessibility? I see a lot of multiple h1 (all but one are visually hidden) out there … Everybody treats it differently. And stuff like the main tag.”
According to John Mueller, many websites do not use structured headings, but the information contained on those sites may be just as important as the websites that do. This means that Google will not de-rank a website based on improper formatting or formatting that does not match best practices. Essentially, Google says that it would be remiss to exclude good content from their search engine results based on formatting.
When asked, Mueller said that it does not matter whether a website uses 1 or 100 H1 tags – so long as the headings are helpful and make sense within the context of the page. Mueller reiterated that it is most important to consider the user and make decisions that will make their on-site experience as logical and positive as possible. It is better to optimise the page for the user rather than getting caught up in the minutia of SEO best practices.
When it comes to tags, Google suggested that you; “imagine you’re writing an outline… 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.”
So then, How Many H-Tags Should You Use for SEO?
The information from Mueller is clear – think about the user intent when writing your H-tags. If they do not match up with user expectations or a logical on-site user experience, then you may be on the wrong track. If your h-tags do not make sense for your users, they will probably not make sense to search engines.
Contrary to popular belief in the SEO community, there is no hard and fast rule about the correct h-tag usage on a web page. In general, we would still suggest that you use one H1 heading tag that relates to the top line topic of the page and then use H2 and H3 tags to indicate sub-headings and separate issues within those subheadings.
If your article requires more than one H1 because you cover a broad range of topics, then perhaps you need to rethink the structure of your content. In general, we focus on a single topic per web page. So, for instance, on this page, we will not discuss meta description best practices or SEO statistics because it would not make sense within the context of this article.
If you decide that you need more than one H1 tag to illustrate the topics covered on your web page, make sure that those tags reflect the most important information on the page. Users should sense that the topic is changing when they encounter a new H1 on your page. If the heading relates to the content that has preceded it – consider using an H2 or H3 tag to demonstrate a hierarchy of relevance.
Don’t go pulling apart old or existing articles that are already performing well. If the article is already ranking well in Google and generating a considerable amount of organic traffic, it does not need to be changed. On the other hand, if you are in the midst of a content audit or setting ground rules for a new website, it makes sense to write some limitations that make it easy for everyone publishing content on the website to follow. Consistency is essential, the more consistent you can be with the use of H-tags on your page, the easier it will be for Google and for readers to interpret the importance of your headings.
If you are seeing duplicate H1s on your website and you’re not sure where to start, Safari Digital can provide Perth SEO services that are designed to get your website on track and clean-up any internal website errors that may be preventing you from ranking. Get in touch to book a consultation.