How Important Is an H1 Tag for SEO? (2024)

Simply stated, H1 header tags are important.

But it isn’t just making sure we use H1s on webpages or even how we use them.

It’s actually understanding what an H1 is (in modern definition) and how it fits into a page’s organization.

More importantly, it’s knowing how an H1 – and other header tags (H2, H3, H4, etc.) – fit into the overall user experience of that page and the website as a whole.

Technically, that main header tag doesn’t even have to be an H1.

But, whether it is an H1 or another header tag, that main header is incredibly significant.

Let me explain.

H1s Aren’t What They Used to Be

H1s used to be systematic and standardized; but no longer, as search is smarter than ever before and getting smarter every day.

The idea of using an H1 as a main category – a headline, if you will – has not changed.

But the role of that header is built more around the overall user experience of the page – and how it helps to improve that experience – than the keyword variations included in it and the order in which an H1 shows up in the header hierarchy.

So, that main headline doesn’t have to be an H1, but the fundamentals behind it acting as an H1 remain.

The main header of a website, which could easily be an H1, should be an overarching, short summary of the content on the page.

And the rest of the page’s content should comfortably exist below it on the page, likely in the form of subheaders.

To further understand the importance of an H1 – and how to craft perfect ones for your content – it helps to understand where H1s came from and how they evolved.

Because now, their purpose is important, but their formality is unrestricted with rules or prerequisites.

What H1s Used to Be

There used to be some pretty straightforward requirements for H1s in regard to SEO.

  • Include the most important keyword(s).
  • Don’t use more (or less) than one H1 per page.
  • Make sure the H1 is the first and largest text on a page.

But Google has made it clear these are no longer the rules of the land.

Websites have evolved, as has the way they are presented, the way they are crawled (by search engines), and the way they are consumed (by humans).

What H1s Are Now

Having multiple H1s isn’t an issue.

It’s actually a fairly common trend on the web, especially with HTML5, according to Google’s John Mueller in the video linked above.

And how many H1s there are or where they line up on the page shouldn’t be overthought if the heading structure of a certain page is the best, most organized way to present the content on that page.

“Your site is going to rank perfectly with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags,” Mueller said in late 2019.

We should always favor the user experience over keyword density or even the hierarchy of headers.

(Since some CMSs use styling that may make other headers more prominent than the H1 for whatever design reason.)

And, since having multiple H1s doesn’t negatively affect a page’s organic visibility, nor does an H1’s lack of high-value keywords (if it makes the most sense and still summarizes the content on the page), crafting headers on a page should be done without too much focus on those elements being an H1 over an H2 or vice versa.

It’s just about making sure the content is organized in a practical and sensible manner.

Mueller cited three ways Google’s system works to understand page headers and how they support a page.

They include a page with:

  • One H1 heading.
  • Multiple H1 headings.
  • Styled pieces of text (without semantic HTML).

This obviously illustrates a lot of freedom when it comes to page style and organization, as well as header tags in general.

And plenty of sites are being rewarded that use all three of the above-mentioned layouts.

Header tags, including H1s, are also useful for accessibility.

Especially for visually impaired site visitors that don’t have the ability to actually look at the website and its design.

Software that aids users with disabilities to consume websites will read headers in the order it sees them.

Thus, H1s are a large part of a website communicating with those users, but multiple H1s won’t affect that page’s effectiveness, even for the visually impaired.

Remember, it’s about the user experience.

10 times out of 10, having that semantic structure that indicates a clear organization of the content on the page is going to work in that webpage’s favor in terms of crawlability, digestibility, and ultimately, visibility.

Getting the Most from H1s & Header Tags

While it’s been said that H1s don’t directly affect organic rankings (i.e., keyword inclusion, multiple tags, etc.), it’d be impossible not to consider them to be a significant part of each webpage’s overall optimization and, therefore, presentation.

If headers can help people understand the content on the page in an easier way, it’s likely they can help search engines in a similar manner.

And they do.

Consider your main header, which may very well be an H1, to be an accurate summary of the page and its content.

All other topics and categories on that page would likely line up below that main header as a subhead, typically going more in-depth about a topic within that main header.

Think of the semantic structure of a page in a simple way:

  • Main header (could be an H1).
    • Subhead 1 (could be an H2).
    • Subhead 2 (could be another H2).
      • Secondary subhead 1 (could be an H3).
      • Secondary subhead 2 (could be an H3).
    • Subhead 3 (could be another H2).
      • Secondary subhead 1 (could be an H3).
      • Secondary subhead 2 (could be an H3).
      • Secondary subhead 3 (could be an H3).
    • Subhead 4 (could be another H2).
    • Subhead 5 (could be another H2).

Some content won’t have many or any subheads.

Some will have multiple.

Again, it’s about the content and the best way to present it to the audience.

Headers Are More Important Than H1s

Headers can be H1s, but they don’t have to be.

The main heading of a page can be an H1, but it doesn’t have to be.

The main heading of a page should be an overarching topic/summary of the page, and thus likely will also include target keywords.

But it’s not for a page’s SEO; it’s for the website visitor and the experience they have on the website.

Remember: it’s not about SEO.

It’s about users.

Make the message clear and each page layout simple.

More Resources:

  • 10 Most Important Meta Tags You Need to Know for SEO
  • 10 Essential On-Page SEO Factors You Need to Know
  • The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO

Category SEO

How Important Is an H1 Tag for SEO? (2024)


How Important Is an H1 Tag for SEO? ›

H1 tags are an important part of SEO. All of the important pages on your site should have H1 tags to draw in the reader and give a clear indication of the content on the page. When you have great H1 tags, especially when you match them to your title tags, it can make a big difference to SEO performance.

Are H1 tags still important for SEO? ›

Every page on your site needs an H1 tag

Even if the page is not a content article with a clearly defined headline, you should still come up with a keyword-optimized H1 that clearly indicates to search engines and users what the page is about.

Does Google care about H1 tags? ›

Yes, H1 tags are a Google ranking factor, but they are not as important as they used to be. In the early days of SEO, people would stuff their H1 tags with keywords to rank higher in search results.

Does hiding H1 affect SEO? ›

Hiding heading tags, willingly showing to users a different content than the one we are actively suggesting to the Search Engine, is definitely considered cloaking and will contribute to negatively affect your rankings.

How many H1 tags for SEO? ›

To determine if you're putting your h1 tag to good use, follow this advice: Your website should have only one h1 tag. If you have more than one h1 tag on a page, change the other h1 tags to an h2 or h3. Your h1 tag should be at the top of the page content (above any other heading tags in the page code).

How do I optimize H1 for SEO? ›

Here are 9 best practices for H1 tags:
  1. Use H1 tags for page titles.
  2. Use title case for H1s.
  3. Match H1s to title tags.
  4. Use an H1 tag on every important page.
  5. Use only one H1 per page.
  6. Keep H1 tags short.
  7. Style headings for hierarchy.
  8. Include your target keyword.
May 11, 2021

How do I optimize my H1 tag for SEO? ›

H1 SEO tips

Include the primary keyword for your content. Avoid populating the tag with too many keywords. Ensure that your target audience can easily read the H1 tag. Use up to 70 characters in the tag length.

Is having multiple H1 bad for SEO? ›

So, are Multiple H1 Tags Bad for SEO? The short answer: Not inherently. Multiple H1 tags, when used appropriately and in the context of modern web design, are not detrimental to SEO. In fact, they can be quite beneficial in structuring content and improving user experience.

How many H1 tags should you have? ›

The Truth About Multiple H1 Tags and SEO. Our conclusion is that while it's fine to stick with one H1 per page, multiple H1s can be used as long as they are not being overused to the point of spamming, and the H1s fit contextually within the structure of the page.

Is it OK to have multiple H1 tags? ›

You can use H1 tags as often as you want on a page. There's no limit, neither upper or lower bound. Your site is going to rank perfectly fine with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags.” Google has even published a video on this specific topic to dispel the idea that Google recommends only one H1.

Which SEO should be avoided? ›

Keyword Stuffing

It's an outdated SEO practice that was once commonly used to manipulate the Google search algorithm. But the algorithm has evolved to detect stuffing, and the practice will do your SEO efforts more harm than good. Keyword stuffing sacrifices the quality of a piece of content.

Is it OK to hide H1 tag? ›

This is not an advisable practice! Hiding text using HTML and CSS trickery angers the search engines and your site could get penalized.

Is it OK to hide H1? ›

There is absolutely nothing stopping you formatting <h1> or indeed any tag like that (with CSS) to be the same height and 'look' as the body text. There is never a reason why you need to hide stuff as you suggest (other than trying to 'game the system').

Are headings still important for SEO? ›

Heading hierarchy in SEO remains an important factor. Despite the changes in SEO practices, search engines still rely on headings to understand the content of a page and its relevance to user queries.

Are H1 and H2 tags important for SEO? ›

Headings H1 and H2 are vital elements that organize the structure of your article. Not only do they help to break up your content into easily consumable sections, but they also play a significant role in search engine optimization (SEO).

Are multiple H1 tags bad for SEO? ›

You may be now wondering how many H1 tags should be on a page. Putting an end to the worries of the webmasters, Google's John Mueller has confirmed that the Search Engine Algorithm of Google doesn't have any issues with a page having multiple H1 tags.

Do H2 tags matter for SEO? ›

They help search engines understand the hierarchy and relevance of your content, as well as the main topic and keywords of your page. They also help users scan and navigate your content more easily, as they provide visual cues and summaries of what each section is about. H1, H2, and H3 tags are your SEO superpowers!

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