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Do Multiple H1 Tags No Longer Negatively Affect SEO for Google?


In a Google Webmaster live video session on September 27, Google Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller was asked the question, “Is it mandatory to just have one h1 tag on a webpage or can it be multiple times?” 1 His answer was surprising to many SEO professionals. According to Google, you can have as many duplicate h1 tags on a page as you want, there is no limit. Having multiple h1 tags on one page will have no effect on that page’s ranking on Google.

This has been the case since the implementation of HTML 5, which Mueller previously pointed out in an earlier Google Webmasters video published in 2017. When asked whether using a site template that uses multiple header tags on a page is a problem, he said:

“It’s not a problem. With HTML 5 it’s common to have separate h1 elements for different parts of a page. If you use an HTML 5 template, there’s a chance your pages will correctly use multiple h1 headings automatically. That said, regardless of whether you use HTML 5 or not, having multiple h1 elements on a page is fine.” 2

Are Header Tags Critical to Google Rankings Anyways?

Multiple header tags not affecting the SEO of a page or its chances at ranking high for Google may be considered old news. It was Mueller’s other comments on header tags in that September live session that caused controversy. It made SEOs question whether h1s had any effect on rankings at all.

“Some SEO tools flag this as an issue and say ‘oh, you don’t have any h1 tags or you have two h1 tags.’ From our point of view, that’s not a critical issue […] Your site is going to rank perfectly fine with no h1 tags or with five h1 tags.” 1

The “no h1 tags” part of that statement caught some SEO professionals off guard. Many, understandably, assumed that header tags were a critical SEO factor. To address the minor controversy the live video chat caused, Google released another, shorter video on October 3 featuring Mueller talking specifically on the h1 topic.

“Our systems aren’t too picky and will try to work with the HTML as we find it be it one h1 heading, multiple h1 headings, or just styled pieces of text without semantic HTML at all.” 3

According to Google, h1 tags are not critical for search rankings. Unlike the issue of multiple h1s on a page, there is more contention regarding this statement. While some in the SEO community agree that h1 tags don’t matter, others argue that removing these headers still sinks your rankings. A few point to their own case studies to support their arguments. Despite Google’s stance, it may take a while for a consensus to be made.

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Sources

  1. Google Webmasters, YouTube – English Google Webmaster Central office-hours from September 27, 2019
  2. Google Webmasters, YouTube – My site’s template has multiple H1 tags
  3. Google Webmasters, YouTube – Multiple H1 headings: how to handle them for SEO & accessibility? #AskGoogleWebmasters