What is an H1 Tag?
H1 is a specific piece of HTML code that is wrapped around a text to indicate its importance. Its original purpose was to enlarge the text to be the largest text on the page. When Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) were developed in 1998, web developers were able to modify the text within the H1 tag (color, typeface, font size), while still signifying its importance on the page.
Gone are the days where Google’s algorithm would simply crawl the H1 tags of a website and display results based solely on those. Nowadays it’s all about relevance. The content on the page and how relevant the page is to a searcher’s query is ultimately what determines the search engine results page (SERP). Google treats the prominent text on the page as an H1 tag, whether it has one or not.
Another important element the H1 serves is usability. Screen readers are necessary tools in many people’s lives, and Google tries its hardest to help them find relevant content. Almost every major screen reader has the capability to skip to the H1 tag on the page to tell that visitor what the page is about. If it’s missing, your site is not as usable and accessible as it could be. As Google places a higher importance than ever on usability, particularly mobile usability, this becomes more important.
As you can see, the H1 tag is no longer as important for SEO, usability, and accessibility. Ideally, you should have one clearly marked on each page of your site as a clear signal to Google about that page’s content. Remember, there can only be one.