Are H1 Tags A Google Ranking Factor?

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The use of H1 tags on websites is not a ranking factor for Google, it’s just an indicator to help people find the content they need. When looking at your website’s search engine results page you can see which keywords are being searched and how many times each keyword has been used within the last 30 days.

The “are multiple h1 tags bad for seo” is a question that has been asked many times. The answer to the question is no, but it’s important to keep in mind that Google will take into account how many h1 tags you use on your page.

Are H1 Tags A Google Ranking Factor?

Is it possible to improve your Google search results by employing the proper keywords in your H1 tags?

What’s more, how many H1 tags should you use on each page?

Over the years, there has been a lot of controversy and confusion regarding how Google views H1 material.

So, are H1 tags a ranking component for Google? Let’s see what happens.

H1 Tags As A Ranking Factor, According To The Claim

Over the years, several “best practices” and suggestions for H1 tags have proliferated. Among them are the following:

  • To rank better for certain keywords, you should employ a lot of keyword-rich H1 tags.
  • Google will penalize you if you use more than one H1 tag per page. (How about an automated downgrade? Is there a manual penalty? In the town square, fifty lashes with a wet noodle?).
  • To tell Google what phrases you want to rank for, start your H1 tag with your principal keyword and continue with your secondary keywords in H2 tags and so on.
  • Only one H1 tag should be used, and it should be the first text element on the page.

I don’t blame you if you’re perplexed by the contradicting information available on this subject.

After all, at the time of writing, this was the highlighted excerpt for [how to utilize H1 tags]:

Are-H1-Tags-A-Google-Ranking-FactorAuthor’s screenshot, June 2021

This, as you’ll see below, goes against everything Google has said regarding H1 tags for years.


Continue reading below for more information.

Let’s look at what’s been going on on both sides of this argument.

The Proof That H1 Tags Are A Ranking Factor

We’ll rely significantly on Roger Montti’s study on how Google’s view and weighting of H1 tags has changed over time for this timeline. Among his significant conclusions are the following:


As indicated by this line from Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s research paper, The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine: A Case Study, page title was a significantly weighted ranking criteria.

“When PageRank prioritizes the results, a basic text matching search confined to site titles works excellently for most popular themes.”


Font size, which was formerly used to determine the importance of a word, lost way to HTML structure as a ranking mechanism.

In the patent, Google patent Document ranking based on semantic distance between words in a document, we received an early peek at how Google employed HTML markup to influence the algorithm’s grasp of semantic structure.


Continue reading below for more information.

In 2010, Bill Slawski examined this patent and explained:

“A search engine analyzes the HTML structures on a page, searching for components such as titles and headers on a page as part of the process underlying this method… In other words, the search engine is looking for and understanding visual structures on a website that might be semantically significant, such as a list of items connected with a header.”

To discover more about each of the aforementioned milestones, read Montti’s H1 Headings For SEO – Why They Matter.


During the golden age of article marketing, H1 tags were generally regarded a Google ranking determinant — and improving them a significant SEO approach. I know this since I used to earn a small cut of the money and even some ghostwriting contracts for articles on sites like Suite101, WikiHow, HubPages, and others.

The day was governed by optimized H1 and H2 tags, keyword density, and formulaic content. Because these articles were intended to create connections and drive traffic for income sharing, the quantity of material produced was much more important to content providers than the quality or value of the information.

And I can confirm that by using these strategies, I was able to rank #1 for subjects and phrases for which I had no business (mesothelioma, anyone?).

This infuriated legitimate publishers, and Google Panda was born in 2011. Those methods were no longer effective, and they might really harm your site’s rankings.

Demand Media can attest to this.

Google provided 23 questions that assist the search engine judge the authority of a piece of content for those sites that were decimated by the Panda algorithm.

My revenue sharing payments from content farms gradually dried up as the user experience was valued in a large manner.

Let’s jump forward to…


In a 2019 Google Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller revealed that Google employs HTML tags to better comprehend what the site and its content are all about. It doesn’t matter how many H1 tags you use, he says, because:

“With no H1 tags or five H1 tags, your site will rank completely well.”

…H1 elements are a wonderful method to give a website more structure so that visitors and search engines can figure out which portions of the page go under certain headers.

…having many H1 components on a website is perfectly acceptable and expected, particularly with HTML5.


Continue reading below for more information.

Check out this debunking of the myth that Google favors just one H1 per page if you want to learn more about how many H1 tags to use on a page.


In an August 2020 Google Webmaster Central video, Mueller answered a query concerning H1 tags. He specifically mentioned headers as a ranking element, saying:

“Page headings assist us in better understanding the material on the page. We don’t only look at the page’s headings for ranking purposes; we also look at the content on its own.

However, having a clear title on the page might occasionally provide us with more information about what that part is about.”

He noted that heads are especially beneficial in aiding Google’s understanding of an image’s content and context.


There was a lot of buzz in August regarding Google altering title tags for a select few sites in search results. On the search engine results page, the phrase from the H1 element was often utilized as the new title (SERP).


Continue reading below for more information.

H1 Tags as a Ranking Factor: The Evidence

Even as early as 2009, Google was fully aware of spamming H1 tag methods. Matt Cutts, the leader of Google’s Webspam Team at the time, for example, cautioned in this video for Google Search Central:

“Don’t utilize all H1 tags and then apply CSS to make it appear like ordinary text; we’ve seen rivals complain about this.” It looks pretty horrible if people turn off the CSS or if the CSS doesn’t load.”

He argued at the time that it was OK to use “a little H1 here and there,” but that it should be used for what it was designed for: headers.

He added:

“…people have attempted to exploit this by throwing H1 everywhere on a website, so our algorithms try to account for that.” As a result, it doesn’t actually help you.”

SEO experts, like so many other excellent things, exploited the horse’s lameness by gaming the system.


Continue reading below for more information.

Our Opinion On H1 Tags As A Ranking Factor


On-page text components were strongly weighted features in the Google search algorithm in the early days of SEO.

The words utilized, their placement on the website, and the font size in which they appeared all notified Google how significant those phrases were. That’s how Google calculated a webpage’s relevance to a particular query.

Because it didn’t have much else to go on in the late 1990s and early 2000s, that’s what Google did.


Continue reading below for more information.

H1 variables, like so many other ranking criteria before them, were soon exploited as a simple approach to alter ranks. Over-optimizing H1s drew the attention of the Spam Team, and they were devalued as a consequence.

H1 tags and other structural HTML components continue to aid Google in determining how consumers perceive the information on any particular site. They continue to assist Google in determining a webpage’s relevancy and semantic structure.

They help the algorithm figure out what the page is about, who it’s for, and why it is or isn’t the best response for a specific query.

Headings are a Google ranking element, according to Mueller.

That being said, it doesn’t mean much on its own. Trying to use H1 to manipulate the SERPs by using a large number of them, cramming them with keywords, or using CSS to conceal a whole page of H1 simply doesn’t work.


Continue reading below for more information.

Not any longer.

When it comes to on-page SEO, the user experience should always be your first priority.

That is what Google values most, and it applies to your H1 tags, as well as the quality of your content, image optimization, and other factors.

Paulo Bobita, featured picture

H1 tags are not a ranking factor. H2 and h3 tags are used to help users find the information they need in search results. Reference: seo h1, h2, h3.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Google care about H1?

A: Google doesnt care about H1.

Do H tags affect SEO?

Is H1 necessary for SEO?

A: Yes, it is. H1 tags are the most important for SEO purposes and should be included in your websites HTML documentations.

Related Tags

  • seo h1 tags best practices
  • multiple h1 tags accessibility
  • the h1 and h2 heading tag carry the same weight for seo purposes
  • google h1 tags
  • how many h2 tags per page

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