are multiple h1 tags bad for seo?

Creating unique, engaging content for both the benefit of users and search engines is a must today. With such fierce competition and vast quantities of quality content being produced on almost every subject, having the edge and making content stand out should be every website owner’s goal.

When creating your in-depth content, there will undoubtedly be a number of questions that you will be asking, to help refine your written content and produce exceptional content that will rank in organic search.

One of the most common questions we are asked as an agency is: ‘Are Multiple H1 Tags Bad for SEO?’

What are H1 Tags?

Firstly, let’s take a look at what H1 tags actually are. A H1 tag is a type of heading tag. Heading tags are used in HTML (website code that browsers use to display a web page) to identify a heading in written content. This helps search engines to learn the structure of a page and better understand the topic and sub-sections of text.

Heading tags are designated H1 to H6, which is generally used to signify heading importance within a page. You will usually find that H1 headings are sized in order, with H1 tags being the largest. This isn’t essential, but makes for a better user experience and layout. H1 tags demonstrate a hierarchy within a page and show search engines which headings should be categorised as sub-headings for a given topic or section.

We’ve demonstrated a basic blog layout below, making use of H1 to H3 tags to show heading order, importance and sub-headings.

heading tags explainer graphic 2

Are multiple H1 tags bad for SEO?

To the important question: Are multiple H1 tags bad for SEO? The short answer is no. But it’s not quite that simple.

Previously it was considered bad SEO practice to include more than one H1 tag. These were used as a main page or post heading only, with H2 to H6 tags used to show a hierarchy throughout the page or post content. Many SEO tools will identify this as a technical SEO error, and flag this up for rectification.

However, Google’s John Mueller stated the following in a Google Search Central explainer video, posted in October 2019:

“Our systems don’t have a problem when it comes to multiple H1 headings on a page”

John Mueller – Webmaster Trends Analyst | Google

John goes on to say that Google uses headings to better understand the parts of a page. It’s also noted that much of the web isn’t semantically structured, so Google basically have to work with what’s there.

`Demonstrate Structure & Hierarchy with Heading Tags

As we mentioned above, it’s not quite as simple as being able to use multiple H1 tags. The page should still demonstrate a structure and hierarchy. For example, using a H1 heading tag for every heading because we know that multiple H1 tags are okay, isn’t what Google are looking for.

However you choose to use heading tags within a page or post, you must remember to show structure, which helps search engines to understand your topic and content.

While we consider our graphic above as best practice, you may choose find that you already have multiple H1 tags, but need to adapt this to better structure the page. Below is an example of heading tag structure when multiple H1 tags have been used. You’ll see that even though there are more than one H1 tag, the post still shows how subheadings are related to the heading above.

multiple h1 heading tags explainer graphic

For the purpose of the graphic above, we have used H4 heading tags for the sub headings. This isn’t for any particular reason and doesn’t matter so long as the structure and hierarchy is demonstrated. The point is, important or main headings are a lower number tag, while sub headings increase to a larger number heading tag.

Remember: H1 Tags are usually the largest headings, are main or important headings, and have the lowest number.

How many H1 tags Are appropriate on a single page?

It does not matter how many H1 tags you use on a single page, so long as they are not being added for the purpose or trying to increase search engine ranking. If you have six main headings, then six H1 heading tags are fine. It’s worth noting that more headings will not increase your chances of ranking for any given search term, so develop the content to be naturally written, structured and helpful. A obvious unbalanced ratio of headings to text could harm your SEO and organic ranking performance.

Are Duplicate H1 Tags bad for SEO?

Using exact duplicate headings will likely harm your SEO and ranking. There should be no need to have a heading more than once, even if that heading is used with different heading tags. Duplicate headings of any type should be avoided in favour of unique, helpful headings.

How Long should a H1 Heading be?

There’s no set answer for this. If you need a long heading do describe your page or sub-section, it’s ok to do so. It’s important to put yourself in the position of the user trying to find the information they require, and judge this sensibly. Longer headings stuffed with keywords will have little or no benefit to ranking in search, so where possible, use brief yet descriptive headings.

Are multiple H1 Tags bad for SEO? – Conclusion

In short, multiple H1 heading tags are not bad for SEO. But it’s important to remember that whichever tags you are using, they should help search engines understand your content.

Heading tags for SEO are a small part of the big picture, but getting this right can help when it comes to outranking competition with a similar quality or length of content. The most important thing to consider when writing content for your website, is to cover your topic as comprehensively as possible, answering the question that the user set out to find in the first place.

If you can demonstrate Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness within your content, you are halfway there, and will increase your chances of ranking in organic search results significantly.

We can help

Struggling with content for SEO, or need a complete solution for ranking your website higher in search?

We are SEO specialists, with a range of affordable solutions to getting found online. See our SEO Services, and feel free to contact us for any help or information.


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