The game of guessing what has an effect on a site’s search engine ranking is a favorite pastime of ours. Whether should have more than one H1 tag goes right in the mix.

Imagine you have a room full of ping pong balls. The brightest, shiniest one with tons of glitter is equivalent to your h1 tag. Then you have bright ones without glitter that are like you h2. As you get farther down the pecking order, you get to only dull, white balls. Is that visual enough for you?

According to  Mozilla’s interpretation of the HTML 5 specifications, you should not have more than one H1 tag on your page. but what does Google say?

The Google Analyst’s Take

In response to a tweet asking “How many h1 tags should be used on a single webpage,” John Mueller, an Analyst at Google, says you can have “as many as you want.”

The question then becomes, what does the search engine do with the rest of them? If per the specifications, you should only have one. And according to a Google analyst, you can have as many as you want – what happens to the rest of them?

Our Interpretation

After going through the specification ourselves, we have come to the conclusion they’re both right. The line that we are specifically looking at is found in Section 4.3.6.

These elements have a rank given by the number in their name. The h1 element is said to have the highest rank, the h6 element has the lowest rank, and two elements with the same name have equal rank.

How we read that is, we think, pretty simple. You can have more than one h1 tag, but by adding another, you decrease the ranking of them both. Say they each are 10% of the page’s rank. (We obviously don’t know what weight it actually carries.)

Back to our visualization. Having more than one of the bright, shiny ping pong balls with glitter takes away the magic. So, only have one of the best you can get!

By adding another h1 that doesn’t match the Page Title, you’ve now diluted the amount of influence you create when the Page Title and H1 tag match.

So is More Than One H1 Tag a Problem?

So no, having more than one isn’t a problem. The HTML5 specifications allow for it and consider it higher ranked than the h2-h6 tags. The issue then becomes, are you doing the most you can for optimizing the content for your users?

The reason the h1 tag has more rank than the others is that it should be used to denote what a page is about. When you have more than one h1 tag, it diminishes the value of the first one. This is especially true when the h1 tags that follow the first don’t match the page title or content.

Straight From Google’s Mouth

Here’s a video that the Google Webmasters team created to give a little more insight.

Bottom line: For search engine optimization, it’s best to keep it to one bright shiny ball and use one h1 tag per page. It should match the page title & keyword your page is about.

Check Your H1 Tags

Until now, we haven’t had a great way of helping you check your h1 tags. But now, we’re glad to announce our very own SEO tool to help with that.

Check Your H1 Tags