Why Use H1 Tags for SEO Despite Google’s Stance

Earlier this month, Google released a #AskGoogleWebmasters video featuring its Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller explaining how its search engine algorithm considers H1 headings. We discussed this video in an earlier blog post on the effect of multiple h1 tags on SEO. Long story short, Google says H1 tags don’t matter for search rankings.

This statement caused a bit of controversy among SEO professionals. For years, using and optimizing a single H1 and subsequent headings on a page was considered the SEO H1 tag best practice. Founder of PsychCentral.com Dr. John Grohol summed up the shared confusion best in the following tweet:

At our own digital marketing agency in Fort Lauderdale, Tandem Interactive, we still use H1 tags and follow the traditional heading hierarchy. Here’s why we think you should still use H1 headings even if Google no longer sees them as important.

Why You Should Still Use H1s

Before we delve into why H1 tags are still important for SEO, we have to explain what the role of headings is supposed to be. Headings, the heading hierarchy, and semantic markup, in general, are designed to communicate what a page’s content is about and how different ideas within that page are grouped.

Despite not affecting Google’s ranking systems, search engines still pick up on semantic markup to better understand a page. What’s more important than search engine crawlers when it comes to using the proper headings is that they help make it easier for users to navigate a page. Applying not a single heading can result in a muddled page structure which decreases readability – a bad thing for SEO.

An Emphasis on Accessibility

Accessibility is another major reason why you should still use H1s and subsequent headings in your content. Assistive technologies identify heading markup and announce it to users. Screen readers are able to navigate heading markup, which makes it easy for users to quickly find the content on a page they are interested in.

A recent WebAIM survey of screen reader users found that the majority of respondents (68.8%) chose to navigate headings as their primary method for finding information on a page. Another finding:

“The usefulness of proper heading structures is very high, with 86.1% of respondents finding heading levels very or somewhat useful.” – WebAIM 2

Since the Supreme Court recently ruled that websites fall under the American with Disabilities Act, 1 accessibility and ADA compliance should be top priority. Using H1 tags and subsequent headings is an important part of that. Despite Google’s stance on headings, semantic markup is clearly still incredibly important for your site’s users.

Tandem Interactive is a South Florida full-service digital marketing agency serving clients nationwide. Our Fort Lauderdale SEO company specializes in organic SEM, social media, neuromarketing, visual marketing, and reputation management in South Florida and throughout the country. We are also a Fort Lauderdale PPC agency offering award-winning pay-per-click, remarketing, and other paid online advertising services. Contact us or call (954) 519-4114 today to find out how #TeamTandem can launch your company to the next level!


  1. Steven Melendez, Fast Company – Domino’s Pizza was just dealt a Supreme Court blow that could reshape the ADA in the digital era
  2. WebAIM – Screen Reader User Survey #8 Results