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Twitter Poll Shows SEOs Are Divided On Headings Usage

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Many professional SEO agencies will agree that Headings (H1, H2, and so on) are an important aspect of SEO. However, there are different opinions about how these elements should be properly implemented. Recently, there has been a huge debate among SEO agencies on social media about the proper usage of Heading elements.

Google has already provided guidance on how to use headings, but despite their efforts, the SEO community still cannot agree about how to use headings.

An informal poll on Twitter with almost 2,000 votes shows that more than half of the SEO industry do not know how to use headings based on Google’s recommendations.

Google Recommendations Using Multiple Headings

The informal poll asked about Google’s guidance on using multiple H1 headings. A surprising 60 per cent of the respondents answered that the search engine company only recommends one H1 heading to a web page. But in fact, Google has never recommended using only one H1 heading.

In an office-hours hangout, John Mueller stated that publishers can use H1 headings as often as they want on their web pages and that there is no limit, whether upper or lower bound. He also added that websites would rank just fine, regardless of whether it has five H1 tags or zero H1 tags.

Because SEOs were divided on this idea, Google felt compelled to publish a video discussing that publishers should eliminate the idea that they are advising to use only one H1. In this video, Mueller said that their systems do not have any issues about web pages having multiple H1 headings. He also said that it is a common pattern on the Internet.

SEOs Disagree On Proper Use Of Headings

Using heading tags on web pages is a basic SEO task, but SEOs are so doubtful of Google’s recommendations that the topic discussion is extremely polarising.

There are a lot of online discussions in Facebook SEO groups that show a huge disagreement on heading usage. Some people believe that they should not use ideas that date back to the early 2000s, while others say that Mueller’s statements are not factual.

Others partly believe Mueller’s statement; that it is acceptable to use more than one H1. However, they will insist that the H1 element is more important than H2 or H3. This may be true in the early 2000s, but not anymore.

How It Was In The Early SEO Days

In the early 2000s, Google utilised headings to determine the web page’s topic.

Moreover, they gave more importance to the content found at the top of the web page because, just like headings, it also gave clues about the context of the web page. This Google algorithm worked perfectly well with writers back then as publishers often write about the most important details of their articles within the first paragraphs.

Google also used words written in italics, bold, and bigger fonts as vital clues to understanding what webpages were about. The search engine company included all these ranking factors in their PageRank research paper, which was published in 1998.

From 2001 to 2005, websites received rankings bonuses if they used relevant keywords in the heading tags of their pages. That was in the early 2000s, but for some reason, H1 headings are still given so much importance even though Google has progressed with Natural Language Processing and other AI tools.

In short, Google used headings and other elements as clues to know the web page context, but because their algorithm system had since advanced, they started turning away from using these old methods to understand a page topic in 2012.

In that year, Google announced that they would use a Knowledge Graph to gain a deeper understanding of web page content and completely move away from using clues in sequences of words or strings of data.

In their published article titled Introducing the Knowledge Graph: Things, Not Strings, they said that this new and better method involves the “collective intelligence of the web” to understand content the way people do.

After they announced the Google Hummingbird update in September 2013, the search engine company made a transition to using a more natural language style to understand search queries and content. However, the use of natural language processing happened eight years ago, and Google’s algorithm system has progressed dramatically over the years.

Now, Google is more than capable of understanding a page’s topic and relating it to a searcher’s query. They currently use a more sophisticated method than just matching keywords on heading elements to keywords found in a search query.

For these reasons, Mueller has been convincing SEOs that it does not matter if they use two or more H1s because its very purpose back then was to communicate to the search engine what the content is all about.

No Magic Ranking Power To H1 Tags

Mueller stated that websites would rank fine, whether they have five H1 tags or none at all. Although there is no ranking power associated with heading elements, Mueller did say that headings do still serve a purpose.

According to him, headings assist Google in knowing what a piece of content is about. With that said, he reminded everyone that headings are not some secret ingredient that will give a page better rankings.

Regardless of what SEO agencies may feel about the importance of headings, it is essential to create headings that accurately describe the topic of a page or a page’s section. That way, Google can get a better understanding of what the content is really about.

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