Are H1 Tags the Rice SEO’s Won’t Let Go Of?

File under “If you weren’t sure he’s losing it”.


Firstly some background.


Filipino monkey hunters have developed an efficient system for snaring the harmless creatures used over centuries.


They seek out trees that monkeys occupy.


Once the correct choice of trees is established the trappers:


  • Drill one hole in each coconut.
  • Fill each hard-shelled seed’s empty cavity with warm cooked rice.
  • Place the ancient style but effective “traps” along each tree’s base.


The anthropoid hunters will lie in wait, invisibly and patiently.


Sooner or later the monkeys begin coming down to examine yummy smelling rice.


One by one they will stick their hand into a coconut hole and grab the rice.

The monkey hunters will approach the now terrestrial monkeys who try to flee.

Their escape encounters friction while dragging a 2-pound coconut.

This is because they refuse to unfurl their fist, not letting go of the rice, making the passage too narrow for arm removal which makes capture inevatible.  


Monkey meat


This post began while attending Orbit Media’s monthly Wine and Web.



Andy (Crestodina) had taken a well-deserved “family” night off.


Laurel, Director of Digital Strategy at Orbit gave a phenomenal presentation about “The 10 Biggest Mistakes Marketers Make”.


Once again invaluable information flowing from Orbit Media.


At some point, we were talking technicalities like (H1 tags) and how they need to be used to help SEO for content.


I asked Laurel if she had heard that John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google had recently stated  “H1 Headings Are Useful but Not Critical


She had not.


I told the redhead with red Keds “I would send her the article”.


Catherine’s hair is Magenta, I never knew how many shades of red hair existed.


Catherine Tobsing with cat ears


On the 65-mile drive home back home to Lowell IN, the seven voices in my head thought that a blog about their stupid H1 was a great idea but they began arguing about which WordPress editor we would all use.


Mercifully tinnitus drowned them out.


The following day I was busy like “a one-legged man in a butt-kickin’ contest.”


But (pun intended) Amanda Gant from Orbit had already sent out the regular day after Wine and Web summary email.


She beat me to the punch (she probably rises much earlier than me).


Amada posted an article entitled “If Google says H1s don’t matter for rankings, why should you use them? Here’s why.


Which triggered my reaction, “I’m not letting you off the hook so easy Amanda”



What we have here is a high-level team member of one of the most prestigious web development agencies on the planet debating me, an angry old (hey kids get off my lawn) man using…



“We heard it on the Internet so it must be true” to invalidate what must be for some, counterintuitive information.



Me “Really”?



Later that night fueled by 6 K-cups of “Laughing Man” medium roast coffee (with real whipping cream on sale at Aldi) and perhaps some Kirkland 80 proof Scotch whiskey, like a musician “hearing” a song in his head, I began to knock out a draft.


How headings are designed to be used


The hierarchy of headings communicates what the content on a page is about as well as how ideas are grouped, making it easy for users to navigate the page. Applying multiple H1s or skipping headings altogether can create a muddled page structure and make a page harder to read.

Accessibility is also a significant reason to use headings. A point made even more salient now that the courts have ruled that websites fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act.



My response” I can control handicapped disability with off-the-shelf software from companies like Monsido that offer “Web Accessibility” with no coding.


I’m also an expert on pet bird disabilities.


“You need to do better than the “Americans with Disabilities Act” to save your precious H1 muchacho.”


With respect to H1 tags in SEO, one of the commenters made the point that after an hour of “deleting 200 H1 tags through a new developer that screwed up. At least the community can stop listening to John Mu on the issue”


H1 tag data




I say this is correlation/causation run amok.

Explain to me how on God’s green earth did nobody NOT catch a developer going into 200 individual blog posts and deleting 200 H1 tags?

Then the data is reported one hour later after this action.

SEO is so laden with anecdotal rubbish.


Here’s a client of mine with more than 1100 blog posts and zero H1 tags (I write the content)


semrush ranking results


“Take that Mr. Causation and Mr. Corellation”


(How ice cream caused polio – video)


My favorite is “SEO consultant Alan Bleiweiss pointed to a WebAIM survey that found 69% of screen readers use headings to navigate through a page and 52% find heading levels very useful.”


The reality is 74% of all statistics are made up on the spot.


A reality check question is “how will the lack of an H1 tag prevent Google and it’s 2000 math PhDs from figuring out what the posts are about with a title tag, a meta-description, a permalink, a slug, and the content’s body”?


The main difference between Title Tags and H1 Tags is where they appear: Title Tags: These are what show up in search engines. It is the hyperlink that searchers will click on. It also shows up in the title bar at the top of the web browser and is the default title used when someone bookmarks the page. More from monsido (the disability software folks)


So what Mr. Nguyen (Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.) is saying that John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google is wrong, when he wants John Muller to be wrong so he can write some content contradicting John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google.


Great search fodder – well played Mr. Nguyen.


All you boys need to let go of the rice.


The spoiler, “What Is A Bird-Safe Floor Cleaner To Use In The Home? (433 words) ended up on SERP 7, page 1 of Google 72 hours after deployment, without an H1 tag.


Read more at “Did Googles BERT Open The Gates For Short-Form Content?”


Your zygodactyl footnote.


Add SEOs and Associate Editors along with Oncologists, Surgeons, and Veterinarians to the list of professionals I feel compelled to debate day in and day out.


1055 Words

Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

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