Does the order of your <h> tags on a page make a difference when it comes to ranking in Google? Does something odd happen if Googlebot crawls a page and discovers that an <h3> tag comes before the <h1> and swap what each of those means?
The question came up in today’s Google webmaster office hours with John Mueller about whether there are any ranking issues with pages that utilize h tags in such a way that the <h1> tag might not come before other tags.
Here is what he said:
It doesn’t really matter. We use the headings to understand the context of the content on the page a little bit better and for that, we don’t need like a strict order of the heading tags.
Sometimes you have multiple h1, sometimes you have, I don’t know, the order is slightly different because of your template or something on your page and that’s perfectly fine.
While some SEOs will say H tags need to be in order for best practices, the reality is that many pages rank perfectly well with H tags in order and H tags not in order – or with a single H tag (or none at all).
He does continue on and say that having an h1 tag isn’t imperative to the page to rank better, and while the h1 tag might make a minute difference, Google does use other signals as well.
So if you have misordered <h> tags on a page, there is no real reason to make any changes, as long as you ensure the most important header is residing within the <h1> tags on the page.
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