What is <span>They Ask, You Answer</span>
Articles, Podcasts, & Updates

Articles, Podcasts, & Updates

Articles, Podcasts, <span>& Updates</span>
Free Courses & Certifications

Free Courses & Certifications

Free Courses & <span>Certifications</span>
On-Demand Keynotes & Sessions

On-Demand Keynotes & Sessions

On-Demand <span>Keynotes & Sessions</span>
Popular Topics:
Events
Events
Close
IMPACT+ Membership
IMPACT+ Membership
Close
Services
Services
Close
Navigation_8_2021_taya

They Ask, You Answer Coaching & Training

They Ask, You Answer Coaching & Training
They Ask, You Answer Workshop

They Ask, You Answer Workshop

They Ask, You Answer Workshop
Navigation_8_2021_workshop

Inbound Marketing Services

Inbound Marketing Services
Navigation_8_2021_website design - monitor

Website Design & Development

Website Design & Development
Navigation_8_2021_hubspot implementation

HubSpot Training & Implementation

HubSpot Training & Implementation
Navigation_8_2021_virtual selling

Virtual Sales
Training

Virtual Sales <br>Training
Navigation_8_2021_swell - paid ads

Paid Search & Social Services

Paid Search & Social Services
Become a Certified Coach
Become a Certified Coach
Close
Search Engine Optimization

Multiple H1s not frowned upon after all, Google says

By John Becker

Multiple H1s not frowned upon after all, Google says Blog Feature

It has long been considered best practice to use only one top-level heading (H1) on a web page. However, during a recent episode of #AskGoogleWebmasters, Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller explained that the use of multiple H1 tags won't hurt your SEO.

According to Mueller, many websites don't use structured headings, but the information on those sites could be just as relevant and critical as those that do. Therefore, it makes no difference to Google whether you use no H1 tags or 100. He also stated that headings are useful for understanding the context of the page.

Mueller concluded the episode by emphasizing the same message that Google often preaches – consider the user and what would make sense to them. Optimize the page for user experience rather than SEO.

In terms of 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, how many top-level headings should you use?

There are a few questions to ask yourself about the everyday users of your site. Would the use of multiple top-level headings confuse them? Does it make sense to have more than one top-level heading on the page?

Most pages are designed to cover only one topic, providing in-depth information on a single subject without overloading the reader with too much information. Jumping between topics or having multiple main topics on one page can be overwhelming.

If you need more than one H1 on a page (say you're writing a pillar page or something quite in depth), be sure that your H1s represent the most critical information for that page, and that you follow the proper hierarchical order with other tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.).

Each top-level heading must signify a new section to the page. Maintaining proper hierarchy makes it easier to scan and identify the different parts of the page.

However, we don't recommend it.

Using multiple headings with screen readers

Assistive technologies, such as screen readers, use headings to identify the structure of the page. Whether you decide it's better to use no H1s or several, consider if it will have an impact on someone who uses a screen reader for accessibility.

According to a survey conducted by WebAIM, the majority of those who use screen readers find information by navigating headings. The same survey found that 60-percent of people who use screen readers prefer only one H1 that contains the document title, and a third prefer two H1s: one with the site name and one with the document title.

However, these results display preference, not a necessity. Keyboard shortcuts permit users to jump straight to the first top-level heading to begin reading the main content of the page. In the past, the only way to access this information was via the H1 tag. However, modern skip navigation means screen readers should be able to identify the page's main content, even if multiple H1s are present.

How should marketers proceed?

After Google's announcement, we now know that we can use multiple H1s, but we don't know whether we should.

  • If your page is currently using multiple H1 tags, it won't hurt your Google ranking (regardless of what automated SEO audit tools tell you). For clarity and user experience, however, be sure that they follow the proper heading hierarchy.
  • If it makes sense to use more than one H1 on your page, Google won't dock your site for it.
  • Although most screen reader users surveyed stated that they prefer only one H1 on a page, it shouldn't disrupt accessibility too much (if at all).

Mueller's announcement stirred some controversy regarding the best practices for H1 tags on your site. Although multiple top-level headings won't hurt your Google rankings, it may be preferable to stick to maintaining only one H1 per page until more information is available on the topic.

Topics:

Search Engine Optimization
Content Marketing
News
Published on October 8, 2019

Recent Articles

Google shares new tools to audit website user experience

By Paul D. Grant on August 12, 2021
3 min read

Google: Website content quality more important than quantity

By Paul D. Grant on August 10, 2021
3 min read

How long-tail keyword research can drive business

By Kevin Church on August 9, 2021
6 min read

ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for July 26, 2021

By Liz Moorehead on July 26, 2021
6 min read

How to optimize videos on your business website for search

By Liz Moorehead on July 23, 2021
4 min read

ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for July 19, 2021

By Liz Moorehead on July 19, 2021
6 min read

What the heck is going on with all the Google updates? (Content Lab, Ep. 54)

By Liz Moorehead on July 15, 2021
1 min read

ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for July 12, 2021

By Liz Moorehead on July 12, 2021
5 min read

Too many internal links in content can confuse Google about site structure

By Liz Moorehead on July 9, 2021
5 min read

Google July 2021 core update rolling out over next 2 weeks

By Liz Moorehead on July 2, 2021
4 min read

Inbound marketing help: My traffic and leads are down — what am I doing wrong?

By John Becker on June 28, 2021
5 min read

Finally, Google page experience core update is rolling out

By Liz Moorehead on June 18, 2021
3 min read

What is a featured snippet? [Definition + Examples]

By Kevin Church on June 10, 2021
4 min read

ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for June 7, 2021

By Liz Moorehead on June 7, 2021
6 min read

Google June 2021 core update live, July core update coming

By Liz Moorehead on June 4, 2021
3 min read

ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for May 24, 2021

By Liz Moorehead on May 24, 2021
6 min read

Google's June page experience core update will be mobile first, then desktop

By Liz Moorehead on May 21, 2021
3 min read

ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for May 17, 2021

By Liz Moorehead on May 17, 2021
5 min read

ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for May 10, 2021

By Liz Moorehead on May 10, 2021
6 min read

Google confirms demise of Q&A search feature, Question Hub lives on

By Liz Moorehead on April 26, 2021
1 min read

Big Google algorithm update moved to June with new performance report

By Liz Moorehead on April 21, 2021
4 min read

No, changing page publish dates won't increase Google search rankings

By Liz Moorehead on April 10, 2021
4 min read

Google: 'zero-click search' claims and data 'misleading'

By Liz Moorehead on April 5, 2021
6 min read

31 SEO statistics for 2021 and what they tell us (+ VIDEO)

By Jen Barrell on April 1, 2021
11 min read

3 quick SEO fixes that will increase your website rankings right away

By Hannah Woods on March 30, 2021
5 min read