Is the heading H1 useful for Google?

Take a look at what John Mueller says about it.

Until a few days ago, our beliefs about heading writing were based on a strong assumption: a page must have a single H1, because Google and readers like it.

Then John Mueller arrived to surprise us with a statement during a hangout: Google does not consider heading H1 for site ranking and having a title, multiple or zero on the page is the same thing.

Sorry,  what??!!??

H1 is not an essential element for Google

A statement that has provoked reactions in a large part of the SEO community at an international level and that, let’s face it, also seems to be in contradiction with the field experience we have in the sector.

What are the headings for?

The Big G system uses “the headings to better understand the context of the different parts of the page”, and having “clear and semantically understandable” headings is useful for understanding each page served. But, according to Mueller, Google’s systems would not be demanding, and would simply work and interpret the HTML code in the way they find it.

The algorithm tries to interpret the content regardless of the heading and therefore, again according to John Mueller when dealing with the topic of the headings,

“SEO should not be your first thought: think first of your users”.

In other words, Mueller is saying that Google’s systems do not rely on a single, specific structure of titles to indicate the main focus of the page’s content, although for usability and best practices of SEO we should follow what is recommended.

How to manage the titles hierarchy?

The title hierarchy communicates the content of a page and how ideas are grouped, making it easier for users to navigate, understand and interpret information and the page itself.

In my opinion, following the best practices suggested so far, or structuring the site with just one H1, is always preferable regardless of SEO. The application of more H1s or the complete skipping of the headings can create a confusing page structure and make reading and user experience more difficult, as well as complicating access to resources.